The Western Ghats region of India is home to an incredible variety of plant species, each with its own unique story to tell. One such plant is Kokum, a tree that has captured the attention of many due to its dense canopy of green leaves and red-tinged tender emerging leaves. Its popularity as a culinary ingredient and its medicinal properties adds to its allure. In this article, we will take a closer look at Kokum, exploring its origins, uses, and benefits.
Kokum – Scientific name Garcinia Indica is a fruit tree native to certain regions of India. It is widely found in the Western Ghats; Kokan, Goa, Karnataka & North Malabar region of southern India & is most used in Maharashtra & Gujarat. It is a crop that grows well in humid and tropical regions, thriving in a range of conditions from extremely rocky to good lateritic soil, and can withstand both drought and water logging conditions. The fruit ripens from April to June and has a unique flavour that is both tart and sweet. Kokum has different name such as Vrikshamia, Amlabija, Amlashaka (Sanskrit), Bheranda, Kokambi, Ratamba (Marathi) Kaatampi (Malayalam)Murgina, Punarpuli (Kannada)Tintali (Oriya)
It has been used for its nutritional and medicinal properties for centuries. Kokum is low in calories and fat, making it an excellent source of fiber and a useful addition to a healthy diet.
In Ayurvedic medicine, Kokum is traditionally used to treat digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, and flatulence. Additionally, Kokum treats skin diseases, infections, and heat strokes. Its pharmacological properties, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticancer, and anti-obesity activities, have been demonstrated through modern research and clinical studies.
Kokum is a rich source of bioactive substances with potential applications in the food, pharmaceutical, and nutraceutical industries. The fruit is also an excellent digestive tonic and can improve skin health. Its nutritional value, health benefits, and traditional uses make it a promising ingredient for various applications. Therefore, further research is needed to explore the full potential of Kokum and its bioactive compounds for human health and well-being.
Nutritional value of Kokum:
Kokum is rich in nutrition. 100 gram of Kokum provides 60 calories of energy. Though Kokum is low in calories and fats, it is rich in fibre and provides around 2 grams of fibre per 100 grams of fruit. It also contains vitamin A, vitamin B3, vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and zinc
Therapeutic Properties and Benefits of Kokum
Kokum fruit has been gaining attention for its health benefits in recent times. Although Kokum has been used in India for centuries as a medicinal and therapeutic ingredient Kokum’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties make it an effective natural remedy for various ailments. Its main component, garcinol, has demonstrated therapeutic anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant potential. Kokum may also manage indigestion and enhance heart health. Studies have found that kokum has anti-obesity property as it contains a compound called HCA (hydroxy citric acid) which acts as an appetite suppressant & it also contains flavonoids and anthocyanins which contribute to increasing serotonin levels in the brain & reduces anxiety and depression. These therapeutic properties make kokum a valuable addition to diet and traditional medicine practices.
Its uses range from treating digestive problems to fever relief and even aiding weight loss. But what many people don’t know is that kokum can also be used to enhance food flavor. This is because it contains natural antioxidants, which help preserve the freshness of food products and enhance their flavor. Moreover, its therapeutic benefits lend it an ideal ingredient for health-conscious consumers who want healthy alternatives to regular food items. With its numerous health benefits, kokum is becoming increasingly popular as an ingredient in food products. This makes it a great choice for those looking to add some extra nutrition and flavor to their meals. Additionally, it relieves nausea and other digestive ailments like acidity and gas. These benefits make kokum a versatile ingredient in traditional Indian medicine.
Types of Products & their Application in the Food Industry
The shelf life of Kokum fruits under ambient temperature is 4 -5 days and it can be extended up to 28 days if properly stored at 13°C temperature and 86% relative humidity. Many products from Kokum are prepared which are commercialized.
Kokum syrup: Kokum fruit juice is sweet and sour in taste and is liked by many. Traditionally, the kokum rind is separated by removing the fruit pulp and seeds from the fruit. Equal quantities of sugar and kokum rind are mixed together in a wide-mouth vessel. This mixture of sugar and kokum is kept open for sun rays for up to eight to ten days. In this process, juice comes out of the kokum rind and sugar has already been mixed with juice. Juice is filtered and the rind is removed by passing it through cotton cloth. Clean Kokum Syrup is then filled in a clean glass bottle.
Kokum sharbat: Kokum is widely consumed in the form of sharbat in a western ghat of India. It is prepared using kokum syrup. Water is added to kokum syrup at 1:5 proportions and salt and cumin powder is added.
Kokum aamsul: Aamsul is manufactured from the Kokum fruit peel. For its sour taste, aamsul is a good addition to vegetarian dishes and even fish curries.
Kokum butter: Kokum butter is obtained from kokum seeds. It is a solid, hard butter that remains stable over time. It is used in cosmetics, bar soap, and skin lotions. The high triglyceride content of kokum butter, its low melting point & solid fat content makes it an excellent alternative to cocoa butter in the manufacture of chocolates.
Various studies indicated that kokum fat has good potential as a cocoa butter substitute when used at the level of 5-10% by weight in chocolate & it improved the taste and texture without significantly altering other characteristics such as melting point or hardness. Therefore, this by-product from Kokum can be a very important value-added product because of its food and non-food commercial applications.
Kokum beverages: Kokum extract has approximately 4% sugar which can be fermented to produce high-quality red wine. Kokum fruit extract can be converted into healthy beverages with sugar.
Application in cosmetic products: Kokum Butter is used as a natural moisturizer to keep skin supple and silky smooth. Effective for severely dry skin, ulcerations, and fissures on lips, hands, and feet and is also used in cosmetics, bar soaps, and skin lotions.
The demand and export of Kokum fruit and products are growing rapidly in the international market. This growth is driven by its unique flavours profile, health benefits, and its potential to be used in various culinary applications. From juices to jams, kokum is being used as an ingredient in a variety of products. As more people become aware of its nutritional value and culinary uses, the demand for kokum-based products will continue to increase. This presents an opportunity for farmers and producers looking to capitalize on this rising trend by exporting kokum fruits or manufacturing their own kokum-based products.
The global kokum butter market is expected to grow at a rapid pace in the coming years, with demand forecast to be valued at US $652.8 Million in 2022. This growth is predicted to continue at a CAGR of 6.1% until 2032, which will result in a value of US $1,180.1 Million. This anticipated growth in demand is primarily due to the increasing applications of kokum butter in consumer care and personal care products. Recently, there has been a surge in demand for kokum butter, which has seen a steady increase in market growth over the last five years. According to a recent report, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the kokum butter market from 2016-2021 was registered at 5.4%.
Therefore, this wonderful tropical fruit has many medicinal and nutritional properties as mentioned earlier. In addition to many traditional products some advanced processed products based on HCA, Garcinol, and Anthocyanins can be made which will help create demand locally and internationally for this unexploited plant. Its systematic plantation in the Western ghat areas like Konkan and coastal Karnataka will help generate employment in the region leading to change in the economic status of the locals.
- Research Papers
- Evaluation of bioactive constituents of Garcinia indica –www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0023643821021526
- World distribution of Garcinia species (native and exotic) www.researchgate.net
- International Society for Horticultural Science
- Future Market Insights
- National Library of Medicine
- Nourish by WebMD
- Book – Nutrition in Traditional Therapeutic Foods Vol.2 by Dr G Subbulakshmi & Dr M Subhadra