Sesbania grandiflora, also known as Agathi Keerai or the vegetable hummingbird, is a small loosely branching tree belonging to the family Fabaceae and genus Sesbania. Agathi Keerai typically means the green leaves of the plant, a fast-growing tree which grows in a hot humid climate and the tree is indigenous to India, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and also widely grown in Mexico, South West USA.
The tree is clad by several vernacular names agathi in Tamil, avisa in Telugu, agase in Kannada. The humming bird tree is also called as Falmingo Bill, Katuday, Katurai, So Dua and Paloma in different parts of the globe.
The fruit looks like flat, long, thin green beans which can thrive under full exposure to sunlight and is frost-sensitive. The leaves are round, and flowers range from yellow, white, blue to red colour. The red and white flowers are used as vegetables while the yellow and blue are mostly used in medicines. The red group of leafy vegetables are more nutritious as it is loaded with phenolic compounds while the white flower greens are mostly preferred as it is less bitter.
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All parts of the Sesbania grandiflora tree is used for its indispensable medicinal properties in traditional Ayurvedic medicines. It is beneficial in treating diarrhea, dysentery microbial infections and inflammatory diseases. Agathi leaves are the best sources of vitamin A, calcium and phosphorus among all the green leafy vegetables. Ayurveda strongly vouches for this leaves as the best dietary way to promote bone health and immunity. Right from the pod, young flowers and seeds of Sesbania Grandiflora are edible and used extensively in several cuisines for its impressive nutrient profile.
Agathi flowers and leaves are loaded with a myriad of nutrients including protein, minerals and vitamins. Sesbania grandiflora are a good source of vitamin a, folate, thiamin, niacin, and vitamin c. flowers also render ample amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium. According to the National Institute of Nutrition, Agathi leaves contain 8 grams of protein imbued with all 8 essential amino acids, incredible amounts of calcium 1130mg. The seeds comprise powerful chemoprotective agents like leucocyanidin and cyanidin. Besides these, seeds also contain Saponins and Sesbanimide which possesses strong antibacterial and antimicrobial properties and detoxifies the system.
Agathi leaves have been used extensively in Ayurveda for treating several ailments including migraine, sinusitis, fever and respiratory woes. The leaves possess powerful anthelmintic, diuretic and laxative property. The flowers are valuable in curing headache, night blindness and cataracts. Apart from these, the bark of the tree is used to treat diarrhea, gonorrhea, malaria and smallpox. Agathi leaves are known to aggravate Pitta dosha, calms down aggravated Vata dosha and clears out excess Kapha dosha.
Wellness Benefits Of Agathi Leaves
Agathi leaves imbued with powerful antioxidants guards the cell membrane against free radical oxidation and scavenges against free hydroxy radicals and avert DNA damage. Evidence has revealed that agathi leaves can uplift the levels of zinc, selenium, and magnesium in the blood and decrease the harmful compounds like glutathione reductase, glutathione S transferase. Furthermore, agathi leaves disclosed immunomodulatory effect against hypersensitivity. Also Read: Herbal Teas That Boost Immunity
The richness of cysteine and cystin in agathi leaves are shown to exert antimicrobial and antioxidant effects which scavenge free radical damage. The antifungal effects of agathi leaves battle against Candida albicans and Aspergillus Niger. The leaves and flowers possess powerful antimicrobial effect against E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and roots have an anti-tuberculosis effect against Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Regular addition of this wonder leaves in the diet benefits all diabetes patients to repair the damaged cells of pancreas and control blood sugar spikes. Agathi leaves are also potent in bringing down the cholesterol, triglycerides levels and maintain lipid profile. Studies have also shown that addition of agathi leaves or leaves extract can remarkably stabilize the HbA1C level.
This incredible leaves with strong antioxidant properties prevent lipid peroxidation and hinder the growth of tumor cells. The flowers are well known to have apoptosis effect against lung cancer cells and also avert and treat colon cancer.
Immense amounts of calcium, iron and vitamins in agathi leaves are valuable in fortifying the bones and reduces the risk of osteoporosis and arthritis in older people. Regular addition of this nutrient-dense leaves prevent fragile bones, improves bone mineral density and support bone health. Also Read: World Osteoporosis Day: 5 Ways To Stay Healthy With Osteoporosis
Agathi leaves and flowers are bitter and astringent in taste and leaves are fibrous and crunchy in texture. The calyx and stamen are removed from the leaves while cooking as these elevate the bitterness. However excess intake may cause stomach upsets and it best to add garlic to counteract this effect. Adding grated coconut to agathi leaves or flowers helps to offset the bitter taste. Add these amazing greens in your regular diet to reap the wellness incentives.