If there is one weight loss supplement that has taken the world by storm in the last few years, then it is undoubtedly the Garcinia cambogia. This topical, fist-size fruit made a grand entry on to the stage of weight loss and fitness in the year 2012, thanks to the statement made by Dr. Oz, a celebrity doctor from the United States.
Promoting and vouching by the goodness of Garcinia, the doctor referred Garcinia cambogia’s extract as an “exciting breakthrough in natural weight loss.”
And voila! Ever since this statement was made, Garcinia cambogia (GC) remained the darling of those fighting obesity, intending to lose those extra kilos and stay fit.
Also known as Garcinia gummi-gutta, this plant native to Indonesia is closely related to Garcinia species and belongs to the plant family Clusiaceae. Vastly grown in Southeast Asia, West and Central Africa and in Karnataka, Kerala in India, it goes with several vernacular names like “Kudam Puli” in Tamil and Malayalam, “Goraka” in Hindi, “Uppage” in Kannada and “Malabaru Chinta” in Telugu and is also quite often referred to as Malabar Tamarind and brindle berry.
Though the endorsement made by a US doctor served as a major platform for GC to garner overnight popularity worldwide, we Indians are no stranger to this tangy fruit.
The Presence Of Garcinia cambogia In India:
Mostly found in the Western Ghats from Konkan region in Karnataka to Trivandrum in Kerala and in Ooty in Tamil Nadu at highest altitudes, the tree of Garcinia cambogia grows from small to medium size, with drooping branches. The tree being sturdy doesn’t require any special irrigation methods and is commonly found by the river banks and moist forests. The tree flowers in summer and the fruits ripen during monsoon, with each tree bearing hundreds of fruits and each fruit containing five to eight seeds.
The fruit with neatly arranged, thick and deep vertical lobes similar to pumpkin looks pale green in colour when raw but acquires yellowish tinge and then turns purple as it fully ripens.
Upon ripening, these fruits are harvested and then deseeded, in order to sun dry the rinds. Drying under the sun decreases the amount of water in the peel, thus preventing the growth of microbes. The process makes the rind turn black in colour and hard, increasing the shelf life.
The dried fruit or the skin of the fresh fruit is used in the preparation of chutneys and curries, in traditional cooking in the coastal regions of our country and is recommended for maintaining gut health.
Nutritional Content In Garcinia cambogia:
The rind of Garcinia is high in phytochemical content including hydroxycitric acid and other compounds like polyphenols, luteolin and kaempferol. Every 100 grams of rind approximately contains carbohydrate 17.2 gm, fat 0.5 g, proteins 2.3 gm, fiber 1.24 gm, 15.14 mg of iron, 250 mg of calcium, 10 mg of ascorbic acid and 18.10 mg of oxalic acid.
Though this juicy fruit became popular in recent years, the research on Garcinia cambogia started in the 1960s, after scientists discovered Hydroxycitric Acid or HCA an enzyme in the skin of the fruit, which can stop the sugar from turning into fat.
Ever since the scientists discovered the presence of HCA, there have been numerous studies and works describing the role of this enzyme, in contributing to weight loss. According to a study published by the Journal of Obesity, people on this weight loss supplement lost 2 pounds more than those who didn’t take it. Besides stimulating weight loss, the scientists claim that Garcinia cambogia can improve the levels of HDL or good cholesterol, aid in lowering sugars and triglycerides.
Garcinia cambogia In Ayurveda:
This popular weight loss supplement found mention in ancient Ayurvedic texts and is referred as Vrikshamla. Ayurvedic texts describe the fruit as a small, tangy, fruit with a sweet smell that can pacify Vata and Kapha doshas. Also Read: Introduction To Ayurveda: Learn About Vata, Pitta And Kapha Doshas
Traditional medical practitioners believe that regular intake of this fruit extract stimulates the taste buds, clears toxic buildup in the oral cavity and improves overall metabolism. It is also recommended for improving digestion, flushing out toxins, purifying the blood and also for cleaning the fat tissue, thus aiding in weight loss. Also Read: Lost Weight? Here Are Tips To Sustain It
How Garcinia cambogia Works:
Studies suggest that the extract of Garcinia cambogia suppresses the appetite by acting upon the liquid buildup in the cells. The main component in the fruit rind Hydroxycitric Acid or HCA can effectively block citrate lyase, an enzyme that is responsible for making fat. HCA provides energy, prevents lipogenesis, stimulates the amount of glycogen in the liver, lowers the production of bad or LDL cholesterol and fatty acids. Also Read: CHOLESTEROL: Is It Good Or Bad?
In fact, doctors believe that the presence of HCA works effectively in those suffering from eating disorders like binge eating, anxious, stressed and would slow down the negative thought process. In other words, this component provides a calming effect that is similar to eating food.
It reduces lipid amounts, a hormone that can regulate food cravings and sends signals to the body when the stomach feels ‘full.’
In addition, it also stimulates Serotonin, a hormone that can curb appetite.
Health Benefits of Garcinia cambogia:
1. Aids in Weight Loss:
The extract of the fruit is hugely promoted as a super weight loss supplement. Besides reducing hunger pangs and making you feel full, this wonder fruit also increases the levels of the hormone serotonin, a major appetite suppressant. Also Checkout: Top 5 Super Foods To Achieve Weight Loss - Infographic
2. Reduces Belly Fat:
If you are wary of fat around belly and buttocks, regular intake of Garcinia cambogia supplements could help in reducing in fat levels. Studies reveal that this super sour fruit works wonders in reducing oxidative stress on the body and prevents the overaccumulation of fats around the belly.
Researchers revealed that Garcinia cambogia, by preventing an enzyme called citrate lyase can prevent the production of new fats in the body. According to PubMed Central, if you are taking 2,800 mg of the supplement daily for eight weeks, it can yield the following results.
The total cholesterol gets lowered by 6.3% while increasing good cholesterol or HDL by 10.7%.
It can bring down bad cholesterol or LDL by 12.3% and blood triglycerides by 8.6%.
It is also revealed that fat metabolites are excreted between 125 to 258% more in the urine.
3. Fights Free Radicals:
Studies reveal that concentrated syrup extracted from Garcinia cambogia is loaded with antioxidants that can effectively fight free radicals that can damage DNA, lipids, biomolecules and protein. Dilute the syrup in cold or hot water to derive its benefits.
4. Controls Blood Sugars:
The rind of Garcinia cambogia plays an effective role in controlling blood sugar levels in the patients suffering from type-2 diabetes mellitus. It aids in improving insulin sensitivity, facilitates the flow of glucose to the cells, muscles and reduces the concentration of glucose in the blood. The HCA reduces the levels of oxidative stress in the pancreas and decreases the levels of high plasma glucose levels.
5. Promotes Heart Health:
Numerous studies reveal that Garcinia cambogia plays an important role in bringing down the levels of bad or LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Regular consumption of the fruit rind prevents the accumulation of fat in the liver, intestine and adipose tissue. Also Read: World Heart Day: 5 Simple Ways To Care For Your Heart
6. Diuretic Properties:
Edema is a condition in which water gets accumulated in the body. Consuming Garcinia cambogia works as a diuretic thus increasing the urine output and clears extra water and electrolytes.
7. Natural Antacid:
This fruit is highly recommended for those battling gut issues. It works as a natural antacid and facilitates proper digestion. Ayurvedic health experts suggest consuming fruit rind mixed with fresh curd and salt for instant relief from gastric ulcers and burning sensation in the tummy.
8. Relief From Rheumatoid Arthritis:
Applying the paste made from the rind of Garcinia cambogia provides relief from the pain caused due to arthritis. It is highly recommended for inflammation of the joints, bones and other rheumatic pains. Also Read: Arthritis Management - It's in your hands - take action
Garcinia cambogia’s Other Medicinal Uses:
Both the leaves and rind of Garcinia cambogia are known to have antifungal, astringent, thermogenic and digestive properties. The juice or sherbet made from the rind of this fruit is recommended for those suffering from digestive issues, colic, diarrhea, infections of the ear, hemorrhoids and ulcers.
Applying the juice also heals skin sores, hydrates the skin from within, reduces wrinkles, increases elasticity and fights signs of aging.
Culinary Uses Of Garcinia cambogia:
The fruit is extremely sour to taste, and it is not possible to eat directly. However, the rind is a staple ingredient in kitchens of Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra and Goa. It is served as a cool drink during hot summers, while in Goa the rind is used in the preparation of wine.
In Kerala, the rind is used in coconut-based curries and in certain fish and prawn curries. Chutneys, pickles and vegetarian dishes made from the fruit rind are quite common in India.
Here are two amazing Garcinia cambogia recipes:
Garcinia cambogia Sherbet
5 Dry Garcinia cambogia fruit (Kudampuli)
1 tsp Ginger crushed
1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
3 tsp jaggery powder
Wash and soak dried Garcinia cambogia in warm water, overnight.
In the morning, add jaggery water, ginger to the soaked fruit.
In a saucepan, simmer it on high heat till the fruit gets soft.
Switch off the stove and let the concoction cool down.
Strain the mixture through a sieve. Store the extract in a glass bottle.
In a glass, add 1 tsp of extract, apple cider vinegar, ice cubes and water.
Give a stir and serve chilled.
This extract stays fresh for at least 3 months, if refrigerated.
GC is known for its appetite suppressing properties and other major health benefits while apple cider vinegar too is a popular weight loss ingredient. Jaggery is loaded with iron and is a rich source of Vitamins B12, B6, folate, calcium, iron, phosphorous, magnesium, selenium and manganese.
Watermelon Kudampuli Rasam:
2 cups Watermelon juice
1 cup Kudampuli Juice (Malabar Tamarind extract)
200 grams toor dal
4 garlic cloves crushed
1 tsp rasam Powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1 tsp jeera
1/4 tsp asafoetida (hing)
Curry and coriander leaves
2 tsp ghee
Salt to taste
Cut watermelon into pieces and remove seeds. In a blender, puree it and extract the juice.
Soak Kudampuli in warm water and extract the juice.
Pressure cook toor dal and mash it.
In a heavy-bottomed vessel, mix watermelon juice and Kudampuli extract.
Add turmeric, rasam powder and salt.
Put it on the stove, and bring it to a boil
In a kadhai, heat ghee. Add mustard, jeera, curry leaves and hing.
Add it to the boiling rasam and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice.
Watermelon is a low on calorie fruit and cools the body from within. Toor dal is an amazing source of protein and potassium that provides instant energy. Turmeric is a natural antiseptic, antiviral and serves as an antibiotic. The spices like mustard, jeera, coriander, hing aid in digestion and regulate digestive system. Adding ghee to the rasam not only provides it with rich flavour but also gives ample amounts of good fat, Vitamin A, Vitamin E. Kudampuli extract is known for improving gut health and to keep the digestive tract functioning well.
- Certain Garcinia cambogia supplements may be prepared at high doses and could be very potent and toxic for the digestive system. Hence, they must be consumed with caution.
- As GC supplements are generally recommended to be taken before meals, they might cause nausea and vomiting.
- In people with health conditions such as diabetes or gastrointestinal issues, it is advised to only take low doses of GC supplements, to prevent liver complications and stomach pain.
- Since there is insufficient scientific evidence to support the use of Garcinia cambogia by pregnant women, it is recommended for those expecting to avoid the same.
Garcinia cambogia or the Malabar Tamarind as it is popularly known in southern parts of India, has been used extensively since time immemorial in both, food and medicine. In recent times, its effectiveness in suppressing appetite has made it a global phenomenon and it is being consumed widely as a weight loss supplement. Moreover, it holds significant advantages in improving digestion, promoting heart function, alleviating arthritic joint pain and as a powerful antioxidant, in eliminating harmful free radicals from the body. It is important to keep in mind the side effects and pregnancy risks, in order to avoid any health complications and reap the marvellous wellness incentives of Garcinia cambogia.