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HEALTH > DIET AND DIET REFORM > PART I > SECTION IV : GREEN LEAVES, ETC. > Need for care

 

29. Need for care

[Apropos of my reproduction of Dr. Aykroyd's letter on neem leaves and tamarind, the reader will appreciate the following further letter from the Director of Nutrition Research.

- M. K. G.]

"1. I think there is a certain danger in publishing small items of dietetic knowledge apart, as it were, from their scientific con­text. Ignorant readers are apt to make faulty interpretations. For example, on re-reading the paragraph in my letter of November 6th relating to neem leaves, which you wish to publish in your paper, I think it might possibly give the impression that everyone should consume great quantities of this vegetable as a cure for all human ills. Actually, the small series of analyses we have carried out to date show neem leaves to be somewhat richer in certain food factors than a number of other leafy vegetables, but it is only a question of degree. In a word, it would be better, or purposes of popular education, to stress the value of all green leafy veg­etables rather than to single out one particular vegetable for special commendation. I should therefore prefer the paragraph, which refers to the bitter variety of neem leaves (Azadirachta Indica) to read as follows :

Question : What is the nutritive value of neem leaves?

Answer: 'Neem leaves resemble other green leafy vegetables in composition. Both mature and tender leaves are richer in protein, calcium, iron and carotene than amaranth leaves, corriander leaves, drumstick leaves, lettuce, murraya leaves, and spinach. Their com­position makes them valuable as a supplement to a diet largely composed of cereals, and in this respect they resemble the leafy vegetables in general.'

I append a table giving, as requested, the chemical composition of neem leaves, as far as we have studied it.

COMPOSITION OF NEEM LEAVES (AZADIRACHTA INDICA)

 

Thick and mature leaves
grammes per 100 grammes

Very tender leaves
grammes per 100 grammes

Moisture

59.44

59.36

Crude proteins

7.09

11.56

Ether extractives
(commonly designated fat)

1.04

2.97

Mineral matter

3.36

2.61

Carbohydrates (by difference)

29.07

23.50

Calcium

1.07

0.127

Phosphorus

0.056

0.189

Iron

0.039

0.030

Caloric value per 100 grammes

154.0 calories

167.0 calories

Carotene content

45.6* per gram

 

2. The paragraph relating to tamarind and lemon might be modified as follows:

COMPOSITION OF TAMARIND AS COMPARED TO THAT OF LEMON

With regard to vitamin content tamarind and lemon are roughly similar except that the latter is richer in the anti­scorbutic vitamin C. Tamarind pulp, unlike lemon, contains a good deal of tartaric acid - about 14 per cent; the chief acid in lemon is citric acid. Fresh tamarind, which is more solid than fresh lemon contains a somewhat higher percentage of protein, carbohydrate, and minerals than lemon; in the dried state tamarind yields about 3 per cent protein and 73.00 per cent carbohydrate (by difference). Tamarind is stated to con­tain a laxative principle. I can offer nothing in support of the popular belief that it induces fever and rheumatism.

3. Calocasia                   in Hindi       =        Arbi

          do Perennial         in Hindi       =        Bathu

Amaranth Gangeticus       in Hindi       =        Palack

Prickly amaranth             in Hindi       =        Karund

The botanical name of non-bitter flavouring neem is Murraya konigii. In Urdu = Karepak."

Harijan, 30-11-1935


1 gamma ( ) = .001 milligram or 1 millionth of a grame.