Thursday, July 2, 2009

Health Benefits of Kokum (botanical name: Garcinia indica)

Kokum (botanical name: Garcinia indica), is a deep purple fruit that is very similar to Mangosteen. The tree is native to the Western Ghats and Konkan regions of India and the fruit is commonly used in west-Indian cuisines. Various parts of the tree such as the seeds and bark of the root are used in Ayurvedic preparations since they offer a myriad of health benefits.

Dried Kokum fruit rinds are widely used in cooking as they impart a sweetish-tangy flavor to the food. The fruits contain citric acid, acetic acid, malic acid, ascorbic acid, hydroxycitric acid and garcinol.

Medicinal Properties and Application:

· Kokum fruits contain rich amounts of anti-oxidants that bind with free radicals and prevent oxidative damage to body cells. They also promote cell regeneration and repair.

· Kokum juice is especially popular during scorching summer months as it has a cooling effect on the body and shields the body against dehydration and sunstroke. It also helps in bringing down fever and allergic reactions.

· Kokum seeds contain a high percentage of oil that freezes to form Kokum butter. Kokum butter is extensively used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry as it works wonders on dry, chapped, sensitive, irritated or burnt skin.

· Kokum butter is rapidly gaining popularity over cocoa butter as an intensive skin moisturizer.

· Due to its soothing and healing properties, it is also applied directly to wounds and infected areas on the skin.

· Kokum butter is rich in healthy fats like stearic and oleic acids and can also be used as edible oil.

· Extracts from the Kokum fruit are traditionally used to relieve gastric problems like acidity, flatulence, constipation and indigestion.

· Kokum juice is a healthier and far more refreshing option as compared to commercial bottled drinks. It acts as an appetite stimulant and also has anti-helmintic properties.

· Ayurvedic medicine also uses Kokum infusions to treat piles, dysentery and infections. Kokum is known to strengthen the cardio-vascular system and stabilize liver function.

· The hydroxycitric acid present in the fruit fights cholesterol and curbs lipogenesis, thus aiding weight loss.


Availability and Use:

Dried Kokum is easily available at most Indian food stores. The rinds may be soaked in hot water for a few hours to extract the juice which may be mixed with spices and consumed directly. Alternatively, you could add a few pieces of the dried rind to curries and gravies as a substitute for other souring agents like tamarind, vinegar and lemon juice.

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