Nutrition

Phalsa: Nutrition, Benefits and Precautions

Shweta kumari

June 18, 2023

Phalsa is a small fruit-bearing shrub that produces tiny purple-black berries. The fruit is renowned for its tangy and sweet flavour, making it a popular choice for refreshing summer treats and beverages. The fruit is often referred to as “false blackcurrant” due to its resemblance to blackcurrants, but it has its own unique flavour profile and nutritional benefits. Phalsa is commonly consumed in the form of juices, sherbets, jams, and desserts. 

Phalsa holds cultural, medicinal, and economic significance in the regions where it is grown. It has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for its various therapeutic properties. Additionally, its unique taste and nutritional benefits have made it popular among food enthusiasts and health-conscious individuals. As a result, Phalsa has gained recognition as a versatile fruit with immense potential for culinary innovation and overall well-being.

Nutritional Profile Of Phalsa 

Phalsa fruit is not only delicious but also packed with various nutrients that contribute to its health benefits. Here are some key nutritional components found in Phalsa:

As per NIN 100 grams of Phalsa has

Calcium(mg)-153

Carbohydrates(gms)-15.09

Energy(Kcal)-71.46

Fats(gms)-0.14

TotalFolicAcid(mcg)-22.56

Iron(mg)-2.01

Potassium(mg)-362

Protein(gms)-1.66

VitaminB2Riboflavin(mg)-0.06

Sodium(mg)-1.99

BetaCarotene(mcg)-396

VitaminB6(mg)-0.03

TotalDietaryFibre(gms)-4.54

VitaminC(mg)-5.11

Zinc(mg)-0.48

  1. Vitamins: Research shows that phalsa is a good source of vitamins, particularly vitamin C. It contains higher levels of vitamin C compared to many other fruits, making it an excellent natural antioxidant. According to studies vitamin C is essential for boosting the immune system, promoting collagen synthesis, and protecting the body against free radicals.
  1. Minerals: Phalsa contains important minerals such as calcium, potassium, and iron. Calcium is crucial for maintaining strong bones and teeth, while studies by the American Heart Association say that potassium helps regulate blood pressure and supports proper heart function. Furthermore, scientific findings suggest that iron is essential for the production of red blood cells and for preventing iron deficiency anaemia.
  1. Fibre: Phalsa fruit is rich in dietary fibre, which aids in digestion and promotes healthy bowel movements. Additionally, research shows that fibre also helps in maintaining satiety, preventing overeating, and regulating blood sugar levels.
  1. Antioxidants: Phalsa is known for its high antioxidant content, including anthocyanins, polyphenols, and flavonoids. As per studies, these antioxidants help combat oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, and protect the body against chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
  1. Water Content: Phalsa has a high water content, which helps in keeping the body hydrated and maintain optimal bodily functions. It is an excellent choice for quenching thirst and replenishing fluids during hot weather.
  1. Low in Calories: Phalsa fruit is relatively low in calories, making it a suitable option for those watching their calorie intake. It can be enjoyed as a guilt-free snack or incorporated into various recipes without significantly adding to the overall calorie count.

Health Benefits of Phalsa

Rich Source of Antioxidants 

Phalsa fruit is a rich source of antioxidants, including anthocyanins, polyphenols, and flavonoids. These powerful compounds help protect the body against oxidative stress and damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants play a crucial role in maintaining cellular health and reducing the risk of chronic diseases. The high antioxidant content in Phalsa contributes to the following health benefits:

  1. Protection against Heart Disease: Antioxidants in Phalsa help prevent the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, reducing the risk of plaque formation in arteries and improving heart health. They also help maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
  1. Anti-ageing Effects: By neutralizing free radicals, Phalsa’s antioxidants help slow down the ageing process and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and other signs of ageing.
  1. Skin Health: The antioxidants in Phalsa contribute to skin health by protecting it against damage caused by environmental pollutants and harmful UV rays. They promote a healthy complexion and may help alleviate skin conditions such as acne and inflammation.
  1. Eye Health: Phalsa’s antioxidants, particularly flavonoids and anthocyanins, support eye health and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

Potential Anti-inflammatory Properties

Phalsa has been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties. The bioactive compounds found in Phalsa exhibit anti-inflammatory effects, which can benefit the body in several ways:

  1. Reduced Joint Pain and Arthritis: Phalsa may help alleviate joint pain and stiffness associated with inflammatory conditions like arthritis. The anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce inflammation in the joints and improve mobility.
  1. Management of Inflammatory Bowel Disease: The anti-inflammatory effects of Phalsa may provide relief from symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
  1. Alleviation of Respiratory Inflammation: Phalsa’s anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce inflammation in the respiratory tract, providing relief from conditions like asthma and bronchitis.

Aid in Digestion and Gut Health 

Phalsa fruit contains dietary fibre, which plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy digestive system:

  1. Improved Digestion: The fibre content in Phalsa promotes healthy digestion by adding bulk to the stool, preventing constipation, and promoting regular bowel movements.
  1. Enhanced Gut Health: The fibre in Phalsa acts as a prebiotic, providing nourishment to beneficial gut bacteria. This helps maintain a healthy balance of gut flora, which is essential for digestion, nutrient absorption, and overall immune function.

Boosts Immunity 

Phalsa is a rich source of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant known for its immune-boosting properties:

  1. Stronger Immune Response: Vitamin C supports the production and function of white blood cells, which are vital for fighting off infections and diseases. Regular consumption of Phalsa can help strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of illnesses.
  1. Faster Wound Healing: Vitamin C plays a key role in collagen synthesis, which is essential for wound healing. Adequate vitamin C intake from fruits like Phalsa can promote faster healing of wounds and injuries.

Potential Anti-cancer Properties 

Preliminary studies suggest that Phalsa fruit may possess anti-cancer properties. The presence of antioxidants and bioactive compounds in Phalsa may contribute to the following potential benefits:

  1. Inhibition of Cancer Cell Growth: Some research indicates that Phalsa’s compounds may help inhibit the growth and proliferation of cancer cells, reducing the risk of certain types of cancer.
  1. Protection against DNA Damage: The antioxidants in Phalsa can help protect DNA from oxidative damage, which is a crucial factor in the development of cancer. It is important to note that further research is needed to fully understand and confirm the extent of Phalsa’s anti-cancer properties.

Other Health Benefits of Phalsa

  1. Hydration: Phalsa fruit has a high water content, making it an excellent choice for staying hydrated, particularly during hot weather or physical activity.
  1. Weight Management: With its low-calorie and high-fibre content, Phalsa can be a satisfying snack for those watching their weight. The fibre promotes feelings of fullness, helping control appetite and manage calorie intake.
  1. Heart Health: The antioxidants in Phalsa help reduce oxidative stress and protect against cardiovascular diseases. They prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, reduce inflammation in blood vessels, and promote healthy blood pressure levels.
  1. Nutrient Profile: Phalsa contains essential nutrients like vitamins A, B-complex, and minerals like calcium, potassium, and iron, contributing to overall health and well-being.

Summary

Phalsa fruit offers a multitude of health benefits due to its rich antioxidant content. It protects against heart disease, slows down the ageing process, promotes skin health, and supports eye health. Additionally, Phalsa exhibits potential anti-inflammatory properties, aiding in joint pain relief, managing inflammatory bowel diseases, and alleviating respiratory inflammation. The fruit’s dietary fibre content aids digestion and enhances gut health. Phalsa boosts immunity, accelerates wound healing, and shows potential anti-cancer properties by inhibiting cancer cell growth and protecting DNA. Other benefits include hydration, weight management, heart health support, and its nutrient-rich profile.

Culinary Uses of Phalsa

Traditional Uses of Phalsa in Culinary Practices 

Phalsa has a long history of culinary use in traditional practices, particularly in the Indian subcontinent. Some traditional uses of Phalsa include:

  1. Sherbet: Phalsa sherbet is a popular traditional beverage made by blending Phalsa pulp with water, sugar, and sometimes a hint of spices like black salt or roasted cumin powder. It is a refreshing drink enjoyed during hot summers.
  2. Chutney: Phalsa chutney is made by combining Phalsa pulp with spices, herbs, and sometimes tamarind or jaggery. It is used as a condiment or accompaniment to various savoury dishes.
  3. Ayurvedic Medicinal Preparations: In Ayurvedic medicine, Phalsa is used in various herbal formulations and tonics to promote digestion, treat gastrointestinal disorders, and cool the body during hot weather.

Phalsa as a Flavoring Agent in Beverages and Desserts 

The unique tangy-sweet flavour of Phalsa makes it a versatile ingredient in a variety of beverages and desserts. Some popular uses include:

  1. Phalsa Juice: Phalsa berries are blended with water, sugar, and sometimes lemon juice to make a refreshing and nutritious beverage. The juice can be enjoyed as is or mixed with other fruit juices for added flavour.
  2. Phalsa Lassi: Phalsa pulp is blended with yoghurt, sugar, and a touch of cardamom to create a creamy and cooling yoghurt-based drink.
  3. Phalsa Ice Cream or Sorbet: Phalsa can be incorporated into homemade ice creams or sorbets to add a unique fruity flavour. It can be enjoyed on its own or combined with other complementary flavours.

Phalsa in Jams, Jellies, and Syrups 

Phalsa’s tangy flavour and natural pectin content make it suitable for making jams, jellies, and syrups. These preparations can be used in various ways:

  1. Phalsa Jam: Phalsa berries are cooked with sugar and lemon juice to make a thick and flavorful jam that can be spread on toast, used as a filling in pastries, or enjoyed with cheese.
  2. Phalsa Jelly: Phalsa juice is cooked with sugar and pectin to create a translucent and fruity jelly that can be enjoyed on its own or as a topping for pancakes or desserts.
  3. Phalsa Syrup: Phalsa syrup is made by simmering Phalsa berries with sugar and water. It can be used as a sweetener and flavouring agent in beverages, cocktails, or drizzled over desserts.

Innovative Recipes Incorporating 

Phalsa Chefs and culinary enthusiasts have been experimenting with Phalsa in various innovative recipes. Some examples include:

  1. Phalsa Salad: Phalsa berries are added to fresh salad greens, along with other fruits, nuts, and a tangy dressing, to create a refreshing and unique salad.
  2. Phalsa Salsa: Phalsa berries are combined with diced onions, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, and spices to create a tangy and flavorful salsa that pairs well with chips or as a topping for grilled meats or fish.
  3. Phalsa Popsicles: Phalsa juice is frozen into popsicle moulds with added chunks of fruit for a delicious and cooling summer treat.
  4. Phalsa Yogurt Parfait: Layered with yoghurt, granola, and Phalsa berries, this parfait makes for a nutritious and visually appealing breakfast or dessert option.

Precautions and Considerations 

  1. Allergies: Some individuals may be allergic to Phalsa fruit. If you have a known allergy to berries or have experienced allergic reactions to similar fruits, it is best to avoid consuming Phalsa or consult with a healthcare professional before doing so.
  1. Pesticide Residues: Like many fruits, Phalsa may be treated with pesticides during cultivation. It is advisable to wash the fruit thoroughly before consuming it to minimize potential pesticide residues. Alternatively, you can opt for organic or pesticide-free Phalsa, if available.
  1. Oxalate Content: Phalsa contains oxalates, which can contribute to the formation of kidney stones in susceptible individuals. If you have a history of kidney stones or are prone to them, it is advisable to moderate your intake of Phalsa and consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance.
  1. Interactions with Medications: If you are taking any medications or have an underlying medical condition, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider before incorporating Phalsa into your diet. Certain medications may interact with the compounds present in Phalsa, affecting their efficacy or causing adverse effects.
  1. Individual Variations: Each person’s response to Phalsa may vary. Some individuals may experience digestive discomfort or other adverse effects after consuming Phalsa. If you notice any unusual symptoms or reactions, it is advisable to discontinue consumption and consult with a healthcare professional.

HealthifyMe Suggestion 

Phalsa fruit is rich in carbohydrates, fibres, proteins, vitamins A, B3, and C, and minerals like potassium, calcium, iron, and phosphorus. Anthocyanins, tannins, phenols, and flavonoids are among the phytochemicals found in Phalsa fruit. Phalsa can be eaten in a variety of ways and is a versatile fruit that can be utilised in a variety of cuisines. Its acidic flavour and several health advantages make it a favourite summer beverage.

Enjoy a nutritious salad with phalsa, mango, onion, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, mint, and black salt.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Phalsa is a fruit with numerous health benefits and versatile culinary uses. Its rich antioxidant content provides protection against heart disease, promotes skin health, supports eye health, and exhibits potential anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Phalsa also aids in digestion, boosts immunity, and offers hydration and weight management benefits. However, precautions should be taken, such as considering allergies, pesticide residues, oxalate content, medication interactions, and individual variations. By incorporating Phalsa into a balanced diet and considering these precautions, individuals can enjoy its flavorful and nutritious qualities. As with any dietary changes, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance. Embracing Phalsa as part of a healthy lifestyle can contribute to overall well-being and enhance culinary experiences.

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information please contact our certified nutritionists Here

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is Phalsa a blueberry? 

No, Phalsa is not a blueberry. Phalsa (Grewia asiatica) is a fruit native to South Asia, while blueberries belong to the genus Vaccinium and are native to North America. Although they may share a similar appearance, Phalsa and blueberries are distinct fruits with different botanical classifications.

Q. How do you eat Phalsa fruit? 

Phalsa fruit is typically consumed fresh. To eat Phalsa, you can simply remove the outer skin or squeeze the fruit gently to extract the juicy pulp. The seeds are usually small and can be eaten along with the pulp, although some people prefer to spit them out.

Q. What does Phalsa fruit do for the stomach? 

Phalsa fruit has beneficial effects on the stomach due to its dietary fibre content. The fibre in Phalsa helps add bulk to the stool, promotes regular bowel movements, and prevents constipation. Additionally, the fibre acts as a prebiotic, nourishing beneficial gut bacteria and supporting a healthy balance in the gut, which is important for digestion and overall gut health.

Q. Is Phalsa fruit good for the liver?

There is limited scientific research specifically investigating the effects of Phalsa fruit on liver health. However, Phalsa’s antioxidant properties and nutrient content may contribute to overall health, including liver health. Antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress and protect liver cells from damage. Nonetheless, if you have existing liver conditions, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

Q. Is Phalsa good for diabetics? 

Phalsa fruit has a relatively low glycemic index and contains dietary fibre, which can help regulate blood sugar levels. However, it is important for individuals with diabetes to consume Phalsa in moderation and monitor their blood sugar levels accordingly. Consulting with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian is recommended to determine the most suitable dietary choices and portion sizes for managing diabetes effectively.

Reference Links 

  1. Bioactive compounds and processed products of phalsa (Grewia subinaequalis L.) fruit: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/275330739_Bioactive_compounds_and_processed_products_of_phalsa_Grewia_subinaequalis_L_fruit
  1. Vitamin C in Disease Prevention and Cure: An Overview: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3783921/
  1. How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/how-potassium-can-help-control-high-blood-pressure
  1. Iron Deficiency Anemia: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448065/#:~:text=Iron%20is%20essential%20for%20the,arise%20from%20occult%20gastrointestinal%20bleeding.
  1. Fiber: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/
  1. Interaction of Polyphenols as Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Compounds in Brain–Liver–Gut Axis: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7465954/

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