63. Nira-A Nutritious Beverage
Nira, the sweet unfermented fresh juice, either of cocoanut, date, palmyra or sago palm, has been a popular beverage in some parts of our country since times immemorial. On account of ignorance of its nutritive value the people have not yet realized its dietetic importance. On the contrary some of them belonging to the literate class, believing hearsay, consider nira to be a deleterious drink. Others having curious conceptions about intoxicating drinks dislike it and would not help to popularize it as a national drink. They confuse it with toddy which is decidedly intoxicating. They little realize that nira benefits the addict and the abstainer alike. The fresh juice of the sugarcane is a fashionable drink all over the country. But sugarcane juice can become fermented like nira. A comparison of nira with sugarcane juice from a nutritive point of view will help to remove misapprehensions about nira. No less an authority than the Director of Nutrition Research Laboratory, Indian Research Fund Association, (Coonoor S.I.), has made the following analysis of the two beverages:
From the analysis of the minerals the proportion of the following important mineral salts has been determined:
Medicinal Uses of Nira
In the Indian Materia Medica (By Shri K. M. Nadkarni), the following information is given about the nira of each kind of palm besides its valuable use as a raw material for gwr-making.
"The unfermented juice taken twice or thrice weekly during pregnancy is said to have marked effect on the colour of the infant : it is said to be born of a fair complexion; i.e. if of dark parents, comparatively fair; if of lighter coloured parents, the offspring generally assumes European complexion." (P. 231)
"The fresh juice is a cooling beverage." (Page 662).
"The palmyra juice is diuretic, cooling, stimulant and anti-phlogistic when fresh."
"The fresh saccharine juice obtained by excision of the spadix early in the morning is cooling, also acts as a laxative taken regularly for several mornings; it is useful for inflammatory affections and dropsy; also in gastric catarrh and to check hiccup; as diuretic it is useful in gonorrhoea."
Sago "The juice is internally nutritious and aphrodisiac; also laxative."