Fruits & Vegetables

Ice Cream Bean(Inga edulis)

Botanical Name: Inga edulis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Clade: Mimosoideae
Genus: Inga
Species: I. edulis

Common Names: Ice-cream-bean,(This name originates from the sweet flavor and smooth texture of the fruitpulp.) Joaquiniquil, Monkey Tamarind, Cuaniquil, Guama or Guaba

Ice Cream Bean is native to South America. It grows in the Forests on the riverine flood plains. Moist, wet, or sometimes rather dry forest, or in open places at elevations below 1,500 metres. Thickets and wooded swamps at elevations of 110 – 540 metres in Peru in Northern and western S. America – Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas

It is widely grown, especially by indigenous Amazonians, for shade, food, timber, medicine, and production of the alcoholic beverage cachiri. It is popular in Peru, Ecuador, Pernambuco-Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia. The name inga is derived from its name with the Tupí people of South America.

Inga edulis is an evergreen Tree growing to 18 m (59ft) by 18 m (59ft) at a fast rate. A mature trees reach 30 m (98 ft) high and 60 cm (2.0 ft) diameter at breast height, usually branching from below 3 m (9.8 ft). The branches form a broad, flat, moderately dense canopy. Inga edulis can be evergreen in tropical regions or deciduous when planted in colder regions. The tree has a pale grey coloured trunk. The stems and young twigs can be sparsely to densely haired. The leaves are alternate, evenly pinnate, 10–30 cm long with 4–6 pairs of opposite, dark-green, membranous, slightly pubescent, oval leaflets. The terminal leaflets can grow up to 18 cm long by 11 cm wide in comparison to the basal ones. Extrafloral nectaries are placed on petioles and stipules can be either inconspicuous, absent, or caduceus. It is known that Inga species are in symbiosis with ants (eg. Pheidoles spp.), which get the nectar of the extrafloral nectaries. In exchange the ants will patrol over the Inga plant to protect it against herbivores. There are certain insects such as Riodinid caterpillars which excrete sugary honeydew from their tentacle nectaries. The ants will form a symbiosis with the caterpillars by letting them feed on the tree and in favour of getting sugary honeydew from them. Flowers are fragrant, sessile, pentamerous and are arranged in dense axillary spikes. The flower has a calyx tube with five puberulent, striate lobes, corolla with five silky, villous petals. These are around 14–20 mm long and contain numerous white stamens. The fruits are longitudinally ribbed, cylindrical indehiscent leguminous pods which can be straight, curved or often spirally twisted up. They are pendant and up to 1 m long and yellowish brown to greenly coloured. The amount of ovoid seeds can vary from 10–20, which are purplish-black to olive colored. These are embedded in the sweet, cottony, white arillus which gives it the name Icecream bean, since they taste sweet.


Edible Uses:
It is popular in South America for its edible fruits. The long pod fruits have sweet flavor, white, translucent, jelly-like pulp. Leaf decoctions are used against cough and lip sores. The plant is also planted as shade tree in coffee and cacao plantations. The wood is moderately hard, not very heavy, very durable, and used for making packing cases and piles, and for fuel.

The pulp surrounding the seeds in the seedpod is white, translucent and jelly-like with a sweet, perfumed flavour. Much esteemed in Ecuador, some forms have a slight cinnamon flavour. The seedpod is up to 100cm long. The seedpod can vary considerably in size and in the quantity of pulp it contains. The best forms are found in S. America.

Health benefits & Medicinal Uses:
Ice cream bean fruit tastes wonderful! It has a sweet taste and its seeds and leaves are edible too. They are rich in many vitamins, proteins and fiber. Having ice cream bean fruits on regular basis will improve your immunity and help to fight against many diseases and infections. Here are some reasons why you should include these in your diet.

Ice cream bean fruits are excellent for treating rheumatism with its anti-inflammatory properties. It is good for bone health. It helps in keeping bones strong and healthy.

Ice cream beans is rich in antioxidants which means they are effective in neutralizing free radicals which cause many chronic diseases.

*Weight Loss
This fruit has a flavor quite similar to vanilla ice-cream. It is often used as a flavoring agent for a variety of desserts by weight conscious people. It helps in weight loss as unlike ice cream it is calorie free.

*Anti Inflammatory
They are popular for their anti-inflammatory properties. Regular consumption of these bean fruits offers relief from inflammation caused due to infections of any kind.

*Prevents Cancer
Ice Cream Bean fruits contain compounds like flavonol quercetin, gallic acid and epicatechin which are anti-cancer. Include these fruits in your diet to reduce risks of cancer.

Ice cream bean fruits help in digestion with the presence of trypsin and chymotrypsin which work to convert proteins into amino acids. Thus, nutritional benefit of foods are easily extracted.

*Cures Headache
Ice Cream Bean fruits offer relief from immense headache which includes migraine pain. The leaves can be eaten everyday as a treatment for migraine or tension headache.

*Prevents Gas or Flatulence
With the presence of chymotrypsin in this fruit all risks of gas or flatulence is reduced. Having these on a regular basis helps in getting rid of chronic gas problems.

*Treats Dysentery
The seeds of the fruit are highly nutritious. They work as an excellent health remedy for people suffering from dysentery. The seeds can be extracted and cooked.

*Immunity Booster
The fruit is rich in antioxidants which means it helps the body fight against many infections and diseases. It is a strong immunity booster.

*Mood Enhancer
Consuming the fruit on a regular basis helps in reducing stress and anxiety being rich in antioxidants. It brings about positivity and high energy.

*Cure For Nerve Problems
Ice Cream bean leaves help in treating nerve problems without any side effects which happens in case of medicines.

Ice Cream bean fruit helps in reducing high cholesterol. This is a great item to include in your diet when you are looking forward to reduce saturated fats or high cholesterol foods from your diet.

*Removes Toxins
Ice Cream bean fruits helps in removing toxins from the body with its antioxidant properties. Having 8 glasses of water throughout the day helps in removing toxins easily.

*Cures Depression
Ice Cream bean fruits are highly recommended for people suffering from anxiety. Antioxidants present in this fruit helps in secretion of ‘feel good’ hormones which help in curing depression in the long run.

Other Uses:
Agroforestry Uses: Commonly planted as a shade tree in coffee and cacao plantations, since it is fast-growing, fixes atmospheric nitrogen, has a well spreading crown and produces large quantities of leaves which cover the ground and add considerable quantities of organic matter to the soil. In trial experiments on cultivated slopes, a mulch from this tree reduced soil erosion to levels almost equal to those in secondary forests. The leaf litter is high in nitrogen, lignins and polyphenols. It is slow to decompose, but provides a long-term build up of organic nitrogen and effective weed control. Weed biomass decreased considerably in all agroforestry trials with this species, much more than with other leguminous species. Existing trials are too new to ascertain whether the species can maintain or improve soil fertility on acid sites in the long term, but results so far are promising. Other Uses: The heartwood is light brown with dark stripes; the sapwood is pale yellow or almost white. The texture is coarse; the grain straight to interlocked; lustre is medium; there is no distinctive taste or aroma. The wood is not very heavy; hard to moderately hard. It is said to be very durable, even in water, though another report says it has low durability and is susceptible to blue stain. It is easy to cut, saws slightly woolly and is liable to split in drying. It is used for making packing cases, and especially for making piles. The wood is used for fuel. A popular source of firewood, the wood has a high calorific value and burns with little smoke.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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