The list of summer fruits is incomplete without mentioning the variety of berries available during this season. Berries like jambuls, karvanadas (wild cherry), boram and chunnam grow wild in the forests while strawberries and mulberries are cultivated.
Jambuls or zambllam as it is known in Goa are abundantly available in the markets during summer. The fruit is dark purple or nearly black in colour when ripened and has a sweet, mildly sour astringent flavour. The edible portion in jambuls form around 70 per cent of the entire fruit. Glucose and fructose are the principal sugars found in ripe jambuls. They are a fairly good source of vitamin C and iron and contain many different kinds of antioxidant compounds, including anthocyanins, flavonoids and polyphenols that help reduce oxidative stress and inhibit macromolecular oxidation thereby reducing the risk of degenerative disease. Jambul is an important medicinal plant in various traditional systems of medicine and has been found to be effective in the treatment of diabetes, inflammation, ulcers and diarrhoea. The seeds are a good source of protein and calcium and contain an alkaloid jambosine and glycoside jambolin which help lower blood sugar levels. The flowers are an important source of honey that is beneficial for respiratory problems.
Boram or ber, also known as Indian Jujube, is relished by many for it sweet-sour astringent taste. The fruit is of high nutritional value as it is a good source of vitamin C, beta carotene and vitamin B. It also contains minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, manganese, calcium, sodium, zinc, iron and copper. Galactose, fructose and glucose are the major sugars found in the fruit. It also contains phenolic compounds such as P-hydroxybenzoic, caffeic, ferulic and p-coumaric acids which have antioxidant properties and organic acids such as citric acid, malic acid and malonic acid.
Chunnam which is botanically known as zizyphus rugosa is another wild berry that is available during summer. The fruit has a pulpy white or pinkish colour and is mildly sweet to taste. It is a good source of vitamins and minerals.
Kanntam or karvanda (wild cherry) is another popular wild berry. The fruit has a sweet-sour tart taste and is a good source of vitamin C. It also contains reddish purple pigment called anthocyanins that have antioxidant properties. Kanntam are eaten fresh and are also made into a delicious pickle.
Strawberries are fiery red, juicy conical-shaped fruits that are prized for their characteristic aroma and sweet flavour. The fruit is consumed fresh or as ingredients in salads, ice creams, milkshakes, smoothies, yoghurts, chocolates and other desserts. Strawberry juice is used to prepare cocktails and mocktails. Strawberries have high water content and are low in calories. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese and contain fair amounts of folic acid, potassium and fibre. Strawberries are loaded with polyphenols and flavonoid compounds that have antioxidant properties and have been associated with reduced risk of many chronic diseases.
Mulberries are small fruits that are dark purple or black in colour and have a sweet, tart flavour. The fruit is eaten raw and is used to prepare jams, squashes, pie stuffing, etc. Mulberries are also dried and make a crunchy, delicious and nutritious snack. Fresh mulberries contain carbohydrates, mostly simple sugars such as glucose and fructose and are good sources of vitamin C and iron. They also contain potassium and vitamins E and K. Mulberries are rich in anthocyanin compounds that contribute to their colour and have beneficial effects on health such as reducing the risk of heart disease and cancers.
Lychee is another fruit that is available during summer. These are small oval-shaped fruits that consist of a hard seed which is surrounded by a whitish, juicy pulp that is sweet and tart to taste. It has an enticing floral fragrance and is covered by a pinkish red rough textured outer peel. Litchis are a good source of vitamin C, copper and potassium. Recent studies show that lychees have properties that protect one against breast cancer. Lychees taste best when eaten fresh.
(The writer is a consultant nutritionist with 18 years of experience, practising at Panaji and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org)