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     Volume 7 Issue 26 | June 27, 2008 |

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The Best Thing
About Summer

The most coveted part of our long, hot summer is the abundance of tropical fruits that it has to offer, each one having a distinctive taste and texture. But it is not the exotic taste or vibrant colours that make our fruits so important but also the health benefits associated with these wonderful gifts of Nature.

Take mangoes, almost everyone's favourite fruit. Apart from tasting absolutely divine whether sweet or sour, the mango is loaded with nutrients. It is high in iron and so great for expectant mothers and people who are anaemic. It is also rich in Vitamin A (beta-carotene), E and something called Selenium which helps to protect against heart disease. Mangoes are good for reducing acidity, fever, constipation and kidney problems. These lovely fruits also have powerful antioxidants and anti-cancer abilities.

Of course mangoes are also high in sugar and diabetics or people trying to lose weight should not consume ripe mangoes in high amounts.

Jaam or Jambolan is another unique fruit that come to the market for a brief period but never fails to leave it's sweet and sour, slightly acrid taste, not to mention its purplish stain, on our tongues before its sudden departure. The Jaam fruit, which looks like blackberry or blueberry, has amazing health benefits. Jaam is used for diabetes and diseases of the pancreas. It is a species of cloves used in Ayurvedic medicine. Jambolan is used to treat diabetes because it quickly reduces blood sugar. Ayurvedic practitioners infact, say that the pulp of the Jaam can lower blood sugar levels in approximately 30 minutes while the seed can lower blood sugar levels in approximately 24 hours (http://fitlivindia.com).

Then we have good old jackfruit, alternatively referred to as the poor man's fruit, as almost every part of the fruit is eaten, including the seeds. Kathaler echor with raw jackfruit is one of the most delicious Bangali dishes as is bhorta made of jackfruit seeds. Ripe jackfruit of course is a hot favourite of most Bangalis and popular for its sweetness and ability to fill the stomach. But this great fruit also contains many vitamins and minerals, and offers numerous health benefits. The fruit's isoflavones, antioxidants, and phytonutrients mean that jackfruit has cancer-fighting properties.

That's not all. The seeds are a rich source of complex carbohydrate, dietary fibre, vitamins like vitamin A, C and certain B vitamins, and minerals like calcium, zinc, and phosphorous. They contain phytonutrients and their health benefits are wide-ranging from anti-cancer to antihypertensive, anti-ageing, antioxidant, anti-ulcer, etc. Jackfruit seed powder has the ability to relieve discomfort due to indigestion.

There are many other indigenous fruits that will make their appearance this summer. There is lotkon which has an elusive sweet and sour taste and of course guavas which are rich in vitamin C , just the rind of a guava has a lot more of this vitamin than the flesh of a whole orange, they say. So before reaching out for the foreign fruits at the bazaar, check out the local fruits which have hidden benefits geared to fight particular ailments associated with the season.

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