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Science Says India’s Traditional Kokum Can Help You Lose Weight, Control Cholesterol

Kokum is a versatile herb that can be consumed in many forms — as a sherbet, in rasam, and as a cooking ingredient, among others. But did you know that it also comes with a host of health benefits that can help weight loss, immunity building and plenty more?

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Kokum, or Garcinia indica, has been an integral part of several houses across the Western Ghats in Maharashtra, as well as neighbouring regions of Gujarat and Karnataka. The culinary legacy of kokum is versatile, and depending on one’s lifestyle habits, the plant can be consumed as a spice, medicine, or an appetiser. 

As a kitchen ingredient, kokum is known by various names — solkadi in Goa, malabar tamarind in Kerala, murgal in Tamil Nadu and punarpuli in Karnataka. 

Kokum sherbet makes for an effective summer and winter drink that keeps you protected from sun strokes and dehydration. Meanwhile, punarpuli rasam has medicinal properties to improve digestion. 

Sour in taste and soft in texture, the herb is packed with nutrients that can improve our health in many ways, especially during weight loss. This is one desi superfood that you can have without worrying about gaining extra pounds or compromising on essential nutrients.

Kokum also helps control cholesterol levels and much more. 

Let us decode the vital nutrients present inside kokum and how different parts of our body can benefit from it. 

  • Vitamins & Minerals 

Kokum contains Vitamin A, B complex and C, which help boost immunity

Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant that fights the free radicals caused due to pollution or biochemical reactions in the bodies. This helps cells remain healthy for a longer period.

B complex vitamins like niacin, folic acid and thiamine elevate energy levels, cell metabolism and brain functions. 

Kokum also has minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus that keeps bones and teeth healthy. 

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  • Hydroxycitric acid (HCA). 

The presence of hydroxycitric acid (HCA) in kokum is what aids weight loss in a healthy and safe way. 

HCA prevents fat accumulation and controls appetite. It first converts carbohydrates into fats, and then works on enzymes for synthesis of fatty acids. In converting sugars into triglycerides and lipids, HCA discourages fat formation. 

This process not only helps in controlling weight, but also LDL cholesterol levels, which are bad for the body. However, HCA improves HDL cholesterol, also known as good cholesterols. 

  • Garcinol 

Garcinol is a compound that is present in the rind of the fruit and has widely been used as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer function.

“Various biological activities of garcinol have been reported and most of them relate to its antioxidant nature. More recently, garcinol has generated considerable interest among cancer researchers, and emerging data suggests its ability to protect against chemically-induced carcinogenesis, as well as highlights its potential use as a chemopreventive agent,” reads a paper published in the Journal of Hematology and Oncology. 

These anti-inflammatory properties are also beneficial for treating sores, rashes or burns. Garcinal kills bacteria that cause ulcers. 

How to make kokum sherbet 

Ingredients for one glass:

  • Semi-dried kokums (2-3) 
  • Sugar (as per taste)
  • Roasted cumin powder 
  • Black salt (as per taste)

Process 

  1. Soak kokum in water for 30-45 minutes. 
  2. Rinse the kokum and store the kokum water. Grind the kokum in a mixture till it becomes liquid.
  3. Mix the stored kokum water with sugar and heat it on medium flame for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Once the mixture has cooled, blend it with the liquid kokum from step 2. 
  5. Add cumin powder and black salt. 
  6. While serving, dilute two spoons of the kokum sherbet with cold water. 

Edited by Divya Sethu

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