Turkey berry, the green, rounded fruit of the Solanum torvum plant, is quite tiny in size but offers immense merits for overall wellbeing. Besides being a proven cure for a host of gut problems ranging from indigestion to abdominal cramps, these little berries also resolve iron deficiency conditions, keep blood sugar levels in check and prevent the onset of cardiac ailments. Also Read: Iron: Functions, Food Sources, Supplements, Deficiency and Toxicity

For agriculture and gardening purposes, the turkey berry crop, scientifically termed Solanum torvum and belonging to the nightshade botanical family, is generally employed as foundation stock for eggplant. This is due to their excellent ability to combat several root diseases, often plaguing plants that thrive for a couple of years or more.
turkey berry

The Solanum Torvum Plant:

The turkey berry shrub is native to the warmer regions of North, Central and South America, such as Florida in the USA, West Indies, Brazil. Moreover, it is also propagated and cultivated in the tropical parts of Africa, Australia, as well as Asia, namely Thailand, Malaysia and India.

Solanum torvum or turkey berry is a slender, erect shrub, having a perennial growth pattern and reaching heights of up to 2 – 3 meters. With a soft-wooded, branched stem, it holds broad, oval-shaped leaves covered with fine hairs and dispersed prickles along the veins. The plant blooms with bright white or cream-hued flowers, which upon budding, develop into the turkey berry fruit. Although the leaves and flowers also contain therapeutic potential, it is the minute berries that are extensively used for culinary and medicinal purposes.

The teensy turkey berry fruits come in the form of smooth, spherical discs, which are rough, vibrant green in the unripe state and become yellowish-green upon maturing. Once the soft exterior skin is opened, the berries reveal a juicy interior housing few to many flat, circular, reddish seeds. The ripe berries have an intrinsically piquant, bitter taste.

The other common names of turkey berry are wild eggplant, prickly nightshade, shoo shoo bush, susumber, devil’s fig and pea eggplant. In India, this minuscule pod goes by numerous local vernacular designations such as “Bhukat” or “Bhankatiya” in Hindi, “Brihati Marathi Marang” in Sanskrit, “Sundakkai” in Tamil and “Kundanekayi” in Kannada. It is, in fact, renowned for its valuable properties, particularly in healing stomach aches and for efficiently breaking a fast, enhancing digestion, being widely documented in traditional Indian medical systems, in ancient Ayurveda and Siddha manuscripts.

Turkey Berry Nutrition Facts:

The miniature turkey berry fruits portray a rather remarkable nutritional profile, being densely packed with high-quality proteins, dietary fibres, apart from vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is also naturally low in carbs, calories, fats, making it ideal to incorporate in weight loss diets.

Rich in vitamin A and carotenoids, turkey berry improves eyesight, skin texture and averts chronic disorders. It holds ample quantities of vitamin C, for bolstering immunity and flushing out harmful free radicals from the system. Turkey berry comprises vast reserves of vital trace mineral iron, for improving red blood cell synthesis, in addition to calcium for strong bones. The key elements for maintaining electrolyte balance in the body, sodium and potassium, are also supplied in generous amounts by turkey berries.

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Turkey berry is abundant in unique phytonutrients such as sapogenin steroids, alkaloids, flavonoids, torvosides, glycosides, chlorogenins, tannins and phenols. These confer beneficial anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant and antidiuretic traits, for effectively remedying numerous illnesses, including pancreatic ulcers, arthritis and gout, diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease.

In fact, in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the verdant sundakkai is soaked in buttermilk, sun-dried and prepared as dried turkey berry or sundakkai vathal. It is even commercially packaged and sold in this shrivelled form and consumed as such, as a digestive aid, or cooked with an intense tamarind base as sundakkai vathakuzhambu. Dried turkey berry contains equally amazing advantages for overall health and can be easily incorporated into traditional desi dishes and recipes of soups, dals, shorbas, curries and sambars.
sundakkai vathakuzhambu

Fantastic Health Benefits Of Turkey Berry:

Promotes Digestion

The ample antioxidant content in turkey berry, of phenols and chlorogenins, help to neutralize stomach acids in situations of intestinal gastritis or pancreatic ulcers. Moreover, the massive fibre content facilitates smooth digestion of food, accelerates weight loss and maintains normal appetite.

Treats Anaemia

Turkey berry is bestowed with iron, which is a mineral crucial for the healthy synthesis of red blood cells in the body. Eating turkey berry as part of meals supplies sufficient iron, for rectifying deficiency disorders anaemia and stimulating blood circulation to transport nutrients to all organs in the system.

Manages Diabetes

Instilled with glycoside antioxidants, turkey berry control insulin production and glucose absorption in the body. It is, hence, a wonderful solution for lowering sudden spikes in blood sugar levels, which occurs following consuming food and is an ideal addition to the diabetic diet, effectively alleviating high blood glucose symptoms. Also Read: Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Regulates Menstruation

Turkey berry contains a distinct steroid called sapogenin, which possesses the ability to control hormonal secretions and regulate metabolism in the body. Hence, chewing on some dried turkey berries ensures timely menstrual cycles in women, which are often disrupted due to hormonal imbalance.

Heart Wellness

The high protein content in turkey berry, comprising essential amino acids, is very advantageous for heart health. It reinforces cardiac muscles, thus guaranteeing normal heartbeat, pulse, heart rate, besides pumping blood with oxygen and nutrients to other bodily organs, tissues. Consuming turkey berry also averts heart disease and hypertension, thanks to its potent antioxidant constituents.

Effectively Combats Fever

Consuming turkey berries ripened as part of dals, curries or in the form of dried powder significantly lowers high body temperature, relieves fever, soothes cough, sore throat and runny nose. Packed with polyphenol antioxidants that display useful expectorant properties, turkey berries help in eliminating phlegm, mucus from the nasal passages, lungs, thereby mending instances of asthma, respiratory problems.

Promotes Kidney Functions

Encompassing the goodness of potent antioxidants, turkey berries are a proven remedy for healing renal disorders such as kidney stones and remedying obstruction of glomerular structures. Incorporating a small portion of turkey berries in routine meals supplies tremendous incentives for detoxifying the kidneys, facilitating smooth bowel, bladder movement and uplifting renal health.

Uplifts Immunity

Turkey berries comprise ample quantities of vitamin C, the key nutrient for building resistance, to shield the body from allergies, chronic illnesses like diabetes, hypertension and seasonal infections such as the flu. Drinking some soup, taking herbal concoctions infused with turkey berry extracts vastly augments the internal defence mechanism and bolsters the immune system.


Turkey berry is indeed a powerhouse of essential nutrients, including antioxidants, proteins, fibres, vitamins and minerals. It can be used in cooking many dishes such as soups, curries, dals, and also consumed as the dried berry seasoned with salt and spices.

Add the tiny turkey berries to your regular diet, to reap the superb wellness incentives it offers, for optimal digestion and total healthcare.