Desi Superfoods Food

The summer-friendly goodness of jamun

Among the treats that summer has in store for us, we have the jamun, or naval pazham, if you prefer. Its botanical name is Syzygium Cumini, with the centre of origin being India, from where it has spread to various tropical countries, sometimes courtesy the Indian indentured immigrants, and sometimes through colonisers such as the Portuguese. This can only be a measure of its worth.

The black plum, as the deep-purple ripe fruit is called, is eminently summer-friendly, given its nutritional profile: 100 g of jamun contains 84.75 g of water. Combined with minerals comprising 35 mg of magnesium, 15mg of phosphorus, 26.2 mg of sodium, it makes jamun laced with rock salt a perfect snack for a sweltering hot day, all the more so, given the sweet, sour and astringent tastes of the berry.

As per Ayurveda, jamun — fruit, leaves, bark and seeds included — has many therapeutic properties. The fruit is a coolant, increases vatta, balances pitta and improves digestion; the leaves too contribute to digestive as well as oral health; triggering constipation, they are effective in the treatment of diarrhoea. As for the seeds, they are star performers in the control of diabetes, converting sugar into energy.

Coming back to the nutritional content of the fruit and various parts of the plant, we see that the leaves, the bark and the seeds are a good source of malic and oxalic acids, in addition to tannins, which are anti-malarial, anti-bacterial and gastro-protective. The fruit packs in 15 mg of calcium, 1.41 mg of iron, 18 mg of vitamin C, a certain amount of vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6, all of which are beneficial for bodily functions and building immunity. Besides these, the polyphenol compounds of jamun are effective against cancer, heart diseases, asthma and arthritis.

The vinegar made from the fruit is equally full of benefits; it is high in vitamins A and C, two important elements promoting immunity, bone health and good vision. In traditional medicine, the vinegar is prescribed for digestive problems as well as spleen and liver health. Moreover, it is considered to be a blood thinner, and therefore, good for circulation, while its iron content ensures oxygen supply to the blood, thereby purifying it. Being diuretic, it helps people suffering from water retention ailments.

From the cosmetic angle too, the vinegar is deemed effective for both hair and skin, especially oily skin, given its astringent property, which does wonders to control acne, the bane of many a teenager.

This fruit, laden as it is with goodness, is unfortunately available only for a brief period during summer; one can enjoy them, as such, or in a raita to which rock salt has been added, or even, as some innovative chefs have done, in the form of ice-cream.

The good news, however, is that, to stretch its usage beyond its season, human ingenuity has found various solutions. Of course, there is the vinegar, which means a wine too can be made. Jamun juice and syrup are also available. The pulp of the fruit can be canned or processed into jams and sauces.

Let us ensure the availability of this amazing endemic tree to future generations by planting some Jambu trees in the monsoon and truly earn our mythical pseudonym Jambudvipa, the Land of the Jambu tree, a symbol of the terrestrial world as per Hindu, Buddhist and Jain cosmologies.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 9:19:29 PM |

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