Bael or wood apple also known as Bilva in Sanskrit, Bilva Pazham in Tamil, Bilva or Maredu Phalam in Telugu and Bengal Quince is a native to India, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Southeast Asian countries.
Bael that goes with the botanical name Aegle marmelos is a middle-sized tree, with slender branches, pale brown bark that often oozes an edible gum. The leaves of bael are quite unique, trifoliate in shape which means each leaf consists around 4 to 12 pairs of side veins adjoining at the margin.
Despite interchangeable – the word ‘Wood Apple’ should not be confused with another similar fruit Kaitha Bael in Hindi, Velaga Pandu in Telugu, Vilam Palam in Tamil that goes with the botanical name Limonia acidissima as these both fruits differ in taste, colour and properties.
The Bael fruits are globose in shape, with a hard exterior and it doesn’t split open even upon ripening. The raw fruits look greenish grey while the woody exterior turns yellow upon ripening. The ripened fruit contains aromatic pulp with around 10 to 15 seeds, enclosed in a sac filled with natural adhesive.
Bael tree also has a huge religious significance in Hindu scriptures. Believed as the favourite tree of Lord Maha Shiva, the goodness of this botanical wonder found a special mention in Rig Veda and is also believed as the residence of Goddess Lakshmi for wealth and prosperity. Bilva leaves, fruits form a major part while worshipping Lord Shiva.
Bael fruits are a power punch of various nutrients like beta-carotene, protein, riboflavin and vitamin C. It is loaded with vitamin B1 and B2, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, carotene and possesses good amounts of minerals like calcium, potassium, fiber and good fats.
These fruits are also popular for antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and laxative properties and it has been in use for its medicinal and therapeutic properties in Ayurveda, Siddha and other forms of alternate medicine for thousands of years.
And if you are wondering, how to include these hard-exterior fruits in your daily diet, the best way is to drink homemade bael sherbet. Popular in Odisha and West Bengal this sherbet serves as an instant body cooler and an energizer on a sunny day.
Bael fruits doesn’t split open even after getting ripened. Choose a pale yellow, sweet smelling fruit and try breaking the shell with a hard object. Scoop out the pulp to make this easy sherbet.
How To Make Bael Sherbet or Juice At Home:
Bael Sherbet is a traditional recipe, often found in the households of North Eastern India, especially during summers. This natural coolant not only quenches your thirst but also provides instant energy, thanks to its nutrients.
3-4 medium sized ripe Bael fruit
4 cups of chilled milk
1 cup of water
12 spoons of jaggery powder or as required
2 tbsp cardamom powder
1 tbsp black salt
Wash the fruits and use a rolling pin to hit the hard shell from all around.
Once it breaks, crack open and scoop out the pulp from within.
Take the pulp in a bowl and add water to it.
Mash the pulp till it softens and turns into semi-fluid consistency.
Strain the mixture to remove any solid particles or impurities.
Now add the remaining ingredients like chilled milk, cardamom powder, jaggery and black salt to the bael pulp.
People suffering from diabetes, can add chilled water instead of milk, black salt and cumin seed powder to the fruit pulp to get a healthy alternative to this sweet sherbet.
You can increase or decrease the consistency of the sherbet by adding water as desired.
Pour the sherbet in a glass and enjoy the yummy drink.
Nutritional Benefits of Bael Sherbet
The Bael Sherbet is a nutritious health drink as it is packed with various healthy ingredients.
The antioxidants present in this fruit cure gastric ulcer, aid in digestion, and treat diabetes. The laxative property prevents constipation and the anti-fungal components keep infections at bay.
Milk being a powerhouse of calcium helps in strengthening the bones and boosts your immunity and metabolism. Cold milk if used in the drink relieves from acidity and soothes the stomach and aids in weight loss.
Jaggery being the unrefined form of sugar and is a natural source of iron. It cleanses the body, reduces menstrual pain, prevents anemia, boosts immunity, aids in digestion, detoxifies liver and prevents constipation.
Cardamom, the aromatic Indian spice reduces high blood pressure, treats gastro intestinal disorders, prevents infections, reduces cavities and treats bad breath.
Bael (Wood Apple), Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 137 kcal
Carbohydrate 31.8 gm
Fat 0.3 g
Proteins 1.8 gm
Vitamin A 55 mcg
Vitamin C 60 mg
Thiamine 0.13 mg
Riboflavin 1.19 mg
Niacin 1.1 mg
Carotene 55 mcg
Calcium 85 mg
Potassium 600 mg
Fiber 2.9 gm
Water 61.5 g
* Source as Per USDA
Benefits of Bael
Bael is loaded with a myriad of nutrients which include vitamins A, B1, B2, C and minerals calcium, potassium and iron. The host of plant compounds in bael is beneficial in treating tuberculosis, hepatitis, ulcer and digestive problems. Furthermore, it is also a good source of tannins which aid in treating cholera.
1. High on Carbs:
Bael being high on carbohydrates provides ample amounts of energy to the body for carrying out various bodily activities. Consumed in a limited quantity, it helps the brain cells to work better, aid in digestion and keeps a check on the cholesterol level.
2. Rich in Potassium:
The abundance of potassium in Bael makes it an appropriate fruit for people suffering from hypertension. It prevents the arteries from hardening, thus reducing strokes and preventing heart ailments. The richness of potassium in bael helps to eliminate sodium through urine and also eases the tension on the blood vessel walls which helps in lowering the blood pressure and treating the various symptoms of hypertension.
3. Loaded with Calcium:
Calcium being the second abundant element present in Bael is vital for bone health. It attributes to the strengthening of teeth, bones and prevents osteoporosis. It also plays a major role in in controlling loss of blood in case of injuries.
4. Iron Rich:
Bael being a rich source of iron acts as a natural blood purifier and increases red blood cell and hemoglobin count in blood. It is extremely beneficial for people suffering from anemia.
5. Abundance of Vitamins:
Bael being loaded with Vitamins has innumerable health benefits. It is a rich source of Vitamins A, B and C and the presence of these multivitamins make Bael the number one choice among fruits in the treatment of eye problems, digestive disorders, heart ailments, skin diseases and by preventing the body against infections and enhancing the overall immunity.
6. Powerhouse of Antioxidants:
The high content of phytochemicals such as flavonoids attribute to the antioxidative properties of Bael making it a potent fruit against heart and liver ailments, reduces high cholesterol and is also useful against various infections.
Therapeutic Benefits of Bael:
1. Bael for Management of Diarrhea and Cholera:
The anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic properties and the presence of tannins in Bael help in fighting against the infection called shigellosis which causes diarrhea and treats cholera. Studies show that people consuming ripe Bael in the form of juice or just pulp got cured of cholera and diarrhea.
2. Bael for Diabetes:
The active constituent “Feronia gum” present in the bark and branches of the bael tree have reportedly shown helpful properties in controlling diabetes. It regulates the production of insulin from the cells into the blood stream and low glycemic index of bael maintains the blood sugar level.
A glass of Bael juice (not on empty stomach) every morning has proven beneficial for people suffering from diabetes.
3. Bael for Digestion and Constipation:
Bael is an apt fruit for curing many digestive issues due to its anti- bacterial, anti- fungal properties. It is recommended for people suffering from stomach ulcers as the high content of tannin in its leaves reduces inflammation. The laxative properties of Bael help in cleaning the intestines and prevent constipation.
Regular consumption of Bael juice with a pinch of salt and pepper has been known to show wonders in treating constipation.
4. Bael for Scurvy:
Scurvy is a disease caused due to the deficiency of Vitamin C in the body resulting in sore arms and legs and weakness. Bael having a load of vitamin C acts as a boon for people suffering from Vitamin C deficiency and cures the disease in no time.
5. Bael for Earaches:
This is one of the least known benefits of Bael but holds much importance in getting effective results. The anti-bacterial properties of Bael help in treating infections and removing solidified wax from the ear, thus, preventing problems related to hearing.
6. Bael for Skin Problems:
Due to the presence of the anti-bacterial properties in Bael, it is highly effective against skin infections, cures many skin disorders and promotes skin health.
7. Other Medicinal Benefits:
Bael also plays a key role in lowering the levels of cholesterol of the blood. It is useful in treating heart, liver and kidney problems. Due to the high amount of potassium, it purifies the blood, removes toxins and boosts the overall immunity of the body.
Bael in Ayurveda
Bael or Bilva holds much significance in Ayurveda due to its wide range of benefits. Ancient Ayurvedic scriptures also mention Bael as one of the “Dashamoolas” i.e. roots having anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Each and every part of the tree has a therapeutic benefit.
The fruit has Katu (pungent), Tikta (bitter) and Kashaya (astringent) properties. It has Ushna Virya (hot potency) and Katu Vipaka (i.e. pungent metabolic property). It aggravates the Pitta doshas (digestion) and pacifies Vata (air) and Kapha (earth and water) doshas.
The fruit when taken unripe is very effective in improving digestion and preventing constipation.
The ripe fruit has Madhura ras (sweet taste) but aggravates all three doshas. However, it plays a key role in treating and curing diarrhea and cholera.
The roots of the plant prevent vomiting and nausea.
Churna from the leaves of the plant balances the three doshas and is effective in preventing abdominal colic pain, dyspepsia and gastritis.
Decoction of the stem or bark of the plant plays a key role in treating heart related ailments, improves digestion and treats rheumatoid arthritis.
The wonder fruit can be used in various forms:
Kapiva Bilwadi Churna/ Kapiva Bael Sunth Churna:
This potent Churna or powder of the dried bael fruit or leaves of the plant possess anti- bacterial, carminative and anti-inflammatory properties and play a significant role in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery, aid in digestion and prevent constipation.
Apart from the active ingredient Bilva, the powder also contains saunf (fennel), hing (asafetida), dhania (coriander) and sonth (ginger), that contribute to body’s metabolism and aid in bioavailability of the nutrients in the food.
How To Make Bilva Churna at home:
2 kgs of bael fruit pulp
Place the pulp of the bael fruit under direct sunlight for 2-3 days till it dries completely.
Grind the sun-dried pulp into a fine powder.
Sieve it to remove any solid particles or impurities.
Store it in an air tight container for later use.
The same steps can be repeated using Bael leaves as well.
With your doctor or physician’s consultation, the churna can be consumed regularly with water to get the desired benefits.
Bilva Tail (Bilva Oil)
The roots of this magic plant can be used to prepare an oil which is highly effective in curing ear diseases.
Ayurveda also suggests the use of this potent fruit in the form of gutika or tablets for the treatment of insect bites and fever.
The goodness of Bael is also available to us nowadays in the form of tablets and capsules which benefits our body by curing diarrhea and dysentery, improves our digestion and treats various gastro intestinal disorders.
Bael is an amazing fruit which is very common in the Indian kitchens throughout the summer season. Due to its extensive nutritional benefits, it can be relished in the form of juices, smoothies, pickles and jam etc.
We bring you two super easy and yummy recipes to enjoy this summer:
Bael Panna/ Bael Smoothie
200 gms of ripe Bael fruit pulp
2 mashed ripe bananas
4 tbsp yogurt
3-4 tbsp mango pulp
4-5 tbsp sugar
2 cups of chilled water
1 cup grated coconut
2-3 tbsp mango ginger powder
1tbsp cardamom powder
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp black salt
Add water to the Bael pulp and mash until it becomes soft.
In a large bowl, pour all the ingredients viz. banana, yogurt, mango pulp, mango ginger powder, cardamom powder, sugar, pepper and black salt and keep on stirring until it achieves a smooth texture.
Add the Bael puree to it and blend the mixture.
Strain the entire mixture to remove any hard particles.
Pour it in a glass and garnish the smoothie with grated coconut on top.
Refrigerate and enjoy the delicious smoothie.
The highly nutritious and healthy blend of bael, mango, banana and yogurt sprinkled with pepper and rock salt makes this smoothie useful to beat the excessive summer heat. It soothes the stomach, aids in digestion and also satiates your hunger by giving a feeling of fullness.
Bael Chutney or Bael Pickle
3 ripe bael fruit pulp
½ tsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp chana dal
1 ½ tbsp urad dal
9-10 dry red chilli
8-9 curry leaves
½ cup water
½ tsp asafoetida
1 tbsp jaggery
1 tbsp oil
salt as needed
Scoop out the bael pulp and mash with a little water to soften it.
Heat oil in a cooking pan and add the mustard seeds.
Once the seeds crackle, add chana dal and urad dal in the pan and saute the ingredients till they turn brown.
Add the red chillies, asafoetida, salt and jaggery and saute for a few more minutes.
Reduce the flame and add the mashed bael pulp and curry leaves to the sauted spices and dal.
Cook for a few minutes to mix all the spices and the bael pulp together under low heat.
Once the cooking is over, keep aside and cool it down.
Blend the entire thing in a blender by adding little water to make a thick paste.
Add salt, sugar and water to get the desired taste and consistency of the chutney.
Refrigerate and enjoy the sweet and sour chutney.
Since all the spices are sauted, the pickle can be enjoyed for a week. The nutritional benefits of Bael aids in digestion while addition of curry leaves to the pickle eliminates bacteria and prevents diarrhea, dysentery and constipation. Relish the tasty pickle with idli or dosa, spread it on bread or chapati or enjoy it as a side dish with rice.
Adverse effects of Bael
Like any other Fruit, Bael too exhibits certain side effects.
Since the fruit is useful to lower diabetes, over consumption of bael along with other diabetes supplements may cause your blood sugar level to drop too low.
As the fruit is high on tannins, excessive consumption of it over a prolonged time period without doctor’s consultation may cause your body to exhibit carcinogenic properties.
Extract or powder of the leaves are believed to be extremely harmful for pregnant women. So, consult a doctor if you are pregnant or breast feeding.
Bael aids in digestion but being loaded with carbohydrates it may cause stomach problems and constipation.