MULBERRY: GREEN SUPERFOOD
DR. S. M. ALAM
Feb 13 - 19, 2012
The fruit of the mulberry, similar to the blackberry, is an aggregate fruit that is composed of many smaller fruits called drupes.
Therefore, botanically it is not a true berry. The skin is smooth and fragile, and the color changes from green to red to dark purple as it matures. There are also white mulberry varieties that exist. Mulberries have a stem that persists on the fruit when it is picked from the tree, distinguishing it from blackberries and raspberries.
Mulberry is a deciduous, fruit-bearing tree, which Latin name is Morus from the Moraceae family. It includes many species, the most popular ones being Morus alba, Morus nigra, and Morus rubra. Their names are derived from the color of the buds, not the fruits.
White mulberry is native to China. It grows well in almost any type of soil and tolerates drought and cold temperatures. It can be grown practically anywhere in the world.
Black and Red mulberries are more fastidious: they need warmer climatic conditions, more fertile soils (preferably a deep loam), and good drainage with timely watering, however. These trees need full sun and much space for their large crowns. At the same time, they are wind-tolerant. Black mulberry originates from western Asia (Armenia, Persia, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, etc.), while Morus rubra comes from the United States.
The fruit of a plant belongs to the Morus (Moraceae) family.
The black mulberry, the most common species, is a native of western Asia that spread westward in cultivation at an early period. Up to the 15th century, it was extensively grown in Italy for raising silkworms, but it has since been superseded by the white mulberry. Now an introduced species in North America, it is mainly cultivated for its large, juicy, purple-black fruits, which are superior in flavor to those of red mulberry.
The mulberry tree grows to about 20 m by 15 m. The trunk is light grey, dark grey, or grayish brown.
It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant).
The plant is self-fertile. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil, and can tolerate atmospheric pollution.
Mulberry fruit is a small berry, weighing 4-5 g maximum.
The fruit falls from the tree as soon as it is fully ripe. It is best, therefore, to grow the tree in short grass to cushion the fall of the fruit but to still make it possible to find and harvest. The fruit is up to 25 mm in diameter.
The mulberry has a long history of medicinal use in Chinese medicine. Almost all parts of the plant are used in one way or another. The leaves are collected after the first frosts of autumn and can be used fresh but are generally dried. The branches are harvested in late spring or early summer and are dried for later use. The roots are harvested in the winter and dried for later use.
Mulberry, found in subtropical regions, is a deciduous plant with good nutritional value. Its leaves are thin, glossy, and light green in color, while the fruit is an aggregate fruit which is composed of many smaller fruits called drupes.
The shape of the mulberry leaves could be quite different even on the same tree. Mulberry plants are fast-growing when young, but soon become slow-growing and rarely exceed 10-15 m height. The mulberry plants have been highly regarded in several traditional medicine systems. Regular intake of mulberry in any form would add nutritional value to one's body and enhance health. A ripened mulberry is dark purple to black, edible, and sweet with nice flavor.
NUTRITIONAL VALUE OF MULBERRY
* Carbohydrate (in the form of sugars, mainly glucose and fructose) - 7.8 to 9.2 per cent
* Protein (with essential amino acids) - 15 to 28 per cent
* Fatty acids like linoleic, stearic, and oleic acids - 0.4 to 0.5 per cent
* Malic acid, producing sour taste - 1.1 to1.9 per cent
* Fiber - 0.9 to1.4 per cent
* Calcium - 1.8 to 2.4 per cent
* Phosphorus - 0.14 to 0.24 per cent
* Potassium - 1.90 to 2.87 per cent in leaves, 1.33 to1.53 per cent in young stems
* Magnesium - 0.47 to 0.63 per cent in leaves, 0.26 to 0.35 per cent in young stems
HEALTH & NUTRITION BENEFITS OF EATING MULBERRY
* Mulberry can balance internal secretions and enhance immunity. It promotes proper body fluid production. People suffering from body fluid deficiency could take ten grams of mulberry daily with water.
* Mulberry is useful for the persons who use their eyes a lot during work. Regular consumption of mulberry strengthens eyesight.
* Presence of nutritious elements like minerals and vitamins in mulberry helps in curing chronic diseases.
* Mulberry is helpful for proper gastric juice secretion.
* Regular use of mulberry enhances appetite, and also improves the ability for digesting and assimilating.
* Mulberry could be used to fight problems like chronic gastritis and chronic hepatitis.
* Regular consumption of mulberry juice would be helpful in curing health problems like anemia, pallor, dizziness, heart-palpitations and insomnia.
* Persons with graying hair can also get benefited by regular intake of mulberry. Mulberry juice applied directly on head also promotes healthy growth of hair and blackening.
* Nutritious value of mulberry enriches the blood and in the process, soothes the nerves.
* Mulberry could be helpful in promoting the metabolism of alcohol.
* Mulberry helps in containing hypertension.
* Regular intake of mulberry strengthens body parts like liver and kidney.
* Mulberry is helpful in treating constipation.
* Mulberry is instrumental in eliminating abdominal distention.
* Intake of mulberry juice after any surgery is restorative.
* Mulberry is helpful in recuperating after long-time sickness.
* Consumption of mulberry after childbirth is good for women's health.
* Use of mulberry keeps low cholesterol level in the body.
* Mulberry can suppress mutagenesis of carcinogens.
* Regular use of mulberry prevents cancer of liver.
* Mulberry is helpful in reducing level of blood sugar.
The delicious mulberry was prized as a rare and often expensive treat. It was enjoyed by many ancient people including the ancient Romans. While the mulberry is no longer a luxury, it is a delicious superfruit with many health promoting benefits.
The mulberry fruit is enjoyed today by people all over the world. The mulberry is a naturally sweet fruit that looks quite a bit like a blackberry. The mulberry is a powerful superfood.