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Then Kani – "It might be the sweetest thing on the planet!”is what I thought when one of our patients gave us a seed to have a taste. The moment it slipped into my mouth my facial expression did not match my thoughts. It was the most bitter food I had ever tasted. And to my surprise I just had a mustard size piece of the seed and the bitterness was left lingering my tongue for about an hour with multiple failed attempts to neutralize the taste with sugar, jaggery and water.

The patient said that he has been having a full seed every morning as some random person told him that it would help alleviate his diabetes. Never heard of this seed before, I went straight on you collecting information about this unheard, unseen bitter piece of mystery. And here is what I found...

In Indian Medicine, this plant (Swietenia Macrophyla) has believed to have anti-diarrhoeal properties due to the presence of Petroleum Ether. Extracts containing triterpenoids and limonoids are known for its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties as well. The ethanol extract was found to have potent cytotoxic activity. Most of the experimental studies were on animals and the dosage was also not in accordance with the daily consumption that was advised. When the question is about the taste, the bitterness is mainly caused due to the presence of alkaloids in them.

“Anything that is bitter is good for diabetes" – is a common statement made by people, this seed is also no exception. When it comes to the effect of hyperglycemia, there is a mixed conclusions from studies made on them, compounds like fucosterol and beta-sitosterol are told to be the cause for this effect. A conclusive statement cannot be made and in the absence of human studies, we cannot even recommend, if it is fit for human consumption.

Dietary habits in diabetes is about - “What not to eat rather than what to eat”.

However let's be practical. Instead of swallowing down such a bitter pill for a lifestyle related condition like diabetes, it is better if people focus on changing their dietary habits and add in a few minutes of physical exercise and meditation or some mindfulness activities to keep themselves healthy. And it is worth to note that no one food can help control diabetes in isolation. A balanced diet with a good proportion of protein, fiber and healthy fats along with a judicious amount of complex carbohydrates can help decrease the sugar spikes. Always consult your doctor before for better informed strategies to help you.

Have you ever come across such foods or practices among your circle of friends and family? Or have you been consuming such foods in the past? If so discuss them in the comments section below

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