At this time of year, it’s important to stay hydrated and nourished with healthy foods that can help us cope with the heat and humidity. One such superfood that deserves more attention is kokum, a fruit native to India that has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine and culinary traditions. In this article, we’ll explore the many benefits of kokum and why you should consider adding it to your summer diet.
What is Kokum and How is it Used?
Kokum, also known as Garcinia indica, is a small, purple fruit that grows on evergreen trees in the Western Ghats region of India. The fruit is prized for its sour and tangy flavor, which makes it a popular ingredient in regional cuisines, such as Maharashtrian, Konkani, and Goan. Kokum is often used to add a refreshing acidity to dishes, such as curries, chutneys, and drinks.
Kokum is also known for its medicinal properties, as it contains various bioactive compounds, such as garcinol, hydroxycitric acid, and anthocyanins. These compounds have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anticancer effects, which can help improve various health conditions.
The Health Benefits of Kokum
- Boosts Digestion: Kokum is a natural digestive aid that can help stimulate the secretion of digestive enzymes, reduce inflammation in the gut, and prevent constipation, bloating, and other digestive issues. Kokum also contains pectin, a soluble fiber that can promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria and lower cholesterol levels.
- Regulates Blood Sugar: Kokum has a low glycemic index, which means it can help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent insulin resistance. This is especially important for people with diabetes or metabolic syndrome, who need to monitor their carbohydrate intake and avoid sugar spikes.
- Fights Inflammation: Kokum contains garcinol, a polyphenol that has been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory properties. Garcinol can inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and enzymes, such as TNF-alpha, COX-2, and iNOS, which can lead to chronic inflammation and various diseases, such as arthritis, heart disease, and cancer.
- Boosts Immunity: Kokum contains vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that can help strengthen the immune system and protect the body against infections and diseases. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb iron from plant-based foods, which is important for maintaining healthy blood cells and preventing anemia.
- Reduces Anxiety: Kokum contains hydroxycitric acid, a compound that has been shown to have anxiolytic effects and reduce stress and anxiety levels. This can help improve mood, sleep, and cognitive function, and reduce the risk of depression and other mental health disorders.
How to Incorporate Kokum into Your Diet
Kokum is available in various forms, such as dried rinds, syrups, concentrates, and supplements. Here are some ideas on how to use kokum in your summer diet:
- Add a few pieces of dried kokum to your water bottle or juice to add a refreshing and hydrating flavor.
- Make a kokum sherbet by boiling kokum rinds with sugar, water, and spices, and then cooling and straining the mixture. You can add mint, ginger, or lemon to enhance the flavor and nutrition.
- Use kokum concentrate as a souring agent in your curries, soups, and stews. You can also mix it with honey, salt, or chili powder to create a tangy dip