VADODARA: Drumstick or ‘saragvo’, which grows in abundance in and around Vadodara, has spiced up sambars and avials in south India for years now.
But MS University scientists have discovered that the leaves of drumstick trees too have miraculous healing properties.
Daily dose of drumstick leaves can boost immunity, fight malnutrition and battle inflammatory disorders that could potentially cause cancer, heart ailments and diabetes – making it a super food.
What’s more. It can help government reduce spending on public healthcare incurred in the National Prophylaxis Programme against nutritional blindness caused due to Vitamin A deficiency.
In fact, the National Health Mission (NHM) in Gujarat has recommended that consumption of drumsticks fruits, leaves and bark should be promoted in the state to fight the menace of malnutrition.
Dr Gaurav Dahiya, mission director of NHM, Gujarat in a recent circular addressed to all the district health officials of district panchayats and health officials of municipal corporations has urged the bodies to start a public movement to promote consumption of drumsticks.
Clinical trials carried out by team of Department of Foods and Nutrition led by Dr Vanisha Nambiar threw up encouraging results.
“We found that drumstick leaves have a very high content of beta carotene, which is a precursor of vitamin A. Subsequent, clinical trials on the effect of vitamin A were carried out on rats, which showed a significant improvement in their nutritional levels.
“The trials proved that beta carotene extracted from drumstick leaves is equally effective as compared to synthetic doses which are otherwise recommended to those suffering from Vitamin A deficiency. So, it is much better, easier and cheaper to consume the leaves directly or in dried form instead of popping pills and tablets,” she said.
“These leaves are also rich in anti-oxidants like polyphenols, flavonoids and phenolic acid – all of which are proven to have properties to reduce inflammatory and non-communicable diseases like heart ailments, diabetes and cancer,” she said.
The team has been studying the nutritional potential of drumstick leaves for last 20 years.
Nambiar said just 20 grams of fresh leaves or 5 grams of dried powder can help improve immune system and reduce malnutrition. And that too, without any side-effects. Like turmeric, 2-5 grams of dried powder of drumsticks can be used while cooking ‘khichdi’ or ‘raab’ and you can even prepare all-time favourite Gujarati snack ‘thepla’!
NHM circular points out how consumption of drumsticks can increase the general immunity of human bodies, detoxify the body, helps diabetics and is full of amino acids which are otherwise available only in red meat or dairy products like cheese.
“Since drumsticks can be easily grown in Gujarat’s soil, the trees can be grown in premises of public health centres, school compounds and open grounds,” he said.
Dahiya said that the fight against malnutrition not only requires medical management but also dietary intervention.