Though the Indian summer is quite harsh, some of the best fruits and vegetables are made available to the locals during this hot season. According to the Business Portal of India, a Government of India initiative, India is named as "the fruit and vegetable basket of the world." Primarily an agrarian economy, globally, the country ranks fifth in terms of areas under cultivation. Mangoes, grapes, black plums, Chinese hazelnut, watermelons, oranges and muskmelons are some of the major fruits grown in India. Vegetables include bitter gourd, ladies finger or okra, peas, pumpkin, mushrooms, mint and french beans.
Mango is a tropical, kidney-shaped fruit that weighs up to 24 oz. The fruit is termed "king of fruits" in India. Mangoes have rich pulp, which is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A and fiber. Even half a mango can satisfy daily requirements of vitamin A. Mango is exported on a large scale to different parts of the world, including the U.S. Official estimates suggest that India produces 41 percent of the world’s mangoes. Hapus, Langra, Dashehri, Lal Baug are few of the well-known varieties of mangoes available in India. The fruit is available only during summers in India.
Locally referred to as lychee, Chinese hazelnuts are tropical fruits grown extensively in India, China, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The fruit is covered by a reddish-pink protective skin and the insides are filled with soft and sweet flesh. Lychee is a rich source of vitamin C, containing 72 mg per 100 g of flesh. Nine litchis are able to meet the daily requirement of vitamin C in an average adult.
Bitter gourd, also known as karela, is a bitter vegetable that is consumed in the form of vegetable preparations, juices, dried or raw. The vegetable is known to possess medicinal properties. Bitter gourd is available in two varieties: one growing up to 8 inches, a cultivar, and the other up to 4 inches, which is an indigenous variety. Shaped like a cucumber, the vegetable fruit is covered with bumps. Bitter guard is well known for its nutritional value and as a good source of vitamins B1, B2 and B3. It is available in Central Asia and South America as well. Though disliked by some for its extremely bitter taste, bitter guard is ingested by diabetes sufferers weekly four to five times on an empty stomach to lower blood sugar levels.
The black plum or jambul is a small, fleshy fruit that is native to India, Japan and China. This deep-purple colored fruit is ovate and is available only during summers. Jambul helps in spleen enlargement, while its skin is used in treating diabetes in Ayurvedic medicine. The extract of this fruit is used for curing persistent cough and also the severe typhoid infection. These plums have a high content of vitamin C, A and potassium.
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