Popularly known as Kokum in India, Garcinia Indica has been used for centuries in Asian countries for culinary purposes as a condiment and flavouring agent in place of tamarind or lemon. It’s used for juices, pickles and to add sourness to curries.
The Kokum tree is an evergreen tree predominantly grown in the tropical humid rainforests of Western Ghats. The fruits are green when raw and red to dark purple when ripe. Kokum is widely used as a beverage and has also been used as medicine in Ayurveda.
A myriad of health effects have been attributed to Garcinia, which range from anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory to anti-cancer and digestive benefits. Anti-obesity effects of Garcinia Indica come specifically from its Hydroxycitric Acid content and have been elucidated in several studies. However, there are controversial results regarding its efficacy and safety as an anti-obesity dietary supplement. Despite this, the market is flooded with over-the-counter slimming aids containing Garcinia & HCA.
A typical reduction of food appetite has been reported and increased availability of mood enhancing neuro-transmitter Serotonin observed in animal and human studies with Garcinia. Besides this, it helps to enhance fat oxidation and reduces the tendency to store fat. In other words, it suppresses fatty acid synthesis, formation of fat cells, food intake and induces weight loss.
Another useful component of Kokum is Garcinol, which has been found to be neuro-protective, contributing to brain health and preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s.
While it is clear that Kokum has a role to play in weight loss, it must be emphasised that there is no miracle about it. A carefully planned diet and exercise are key to obesity management. Fat burners can only be supportive. The wisdom would be to take any of these in a natural form as food. They must be taken as supplements only under supervision. A glass of Kokum juice is a cooling digestive beverage and certainly needs no prescription.
Author is a clinical nutritionist and founder of http://www.theweightmonitor.com and Whole Foods India