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Is it good for diabetics?

K.V. Prasad

Jamun vendors make a killing in the shopping hubs of Coimbatore


The flesh of the rejects is crushed and sold as jamun syrup Many people come from Kerala to buy the seeds At least 10 kg of jamun is required to get one-and-a-half kg of jamun seed powder that costs Rs.400



SWEET OR SOUR: The Jamun fruit that is touted to control diabetes. - PHOTO: S. SIVA SARAVANAN

COIMBATORE: It may not match the stature of the mango as the king of fruits. One may even shun it for the purple stain it leaves on the tongue. But, the naval fruit (also called jamun or Indian black berry) is turning out to be more expensive than the mango at Rs.35 for just 250 gm. Reason? It is touted as a fruit that can control diabetes.

On that count, even the sweetest mango can leave a sour taste in diabetic's mouth while the sour jamun (eugenia jambolana) can be sweet news for diabetics keen on avoiding insulin shots. Ask any vendor on the city roads why the jamun costs so much and he will say: "good to control diabetes".

In June and July, jamun vendors make a killing in the shopping hubs of Coimbatore. "I make Rs.2,000 a day," says, M. Shivakumar, who makes brisk business on busy Cross Cut Road. No, he does not run a fruit stall. His five ft long and three ft wide pushcart has three varieties of the fruit, selling at a minimum of Rs.25 per 250 gm and a maximum of Rs.35.

The fruit is also sold at exclusive fruit and vegetable stalls. But, the ability of the vendors on the street to make brisk business that turns the focus on the Unique Selling Proposition of the fruit: controls diabetes.

Shivakumar says his day begins at 7 a.m. "We begin by removing even the slightly decomposed ones," he says. The flesh of the rejects is crushed and sold as jamun syrup. And, the seeds are the most sought after. They are powdered and sold to units producing alternative medicine such as ayurveda. "Many people come from Kerala to buy the seeds. According to Shivakumar, at least 10 kg of jamun is required to get one-and-a-half kg of jamun seed powder that costs Rs.400.

Diabetologists play it down. "It is no substitute for conventional treatment," says V. Rajendran, diabetologist. "There is no standardisation of dose; that 50 gm of jamun brings down the sugar level by so much per cent. Extensive studies have been done. It may help in controlling diabetes but only a much as much as high-fibre green". Dr. Rajendran asks: "Why look for a miracle cure and overdo (eating large quantity of jamun).

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