Jamun (Syzygium cumini L.) commonly known as Indian blackberry is a minor and under-utilized fruit of Indian subcontinent.It is also known as black plum, jambul, Java plum, etc. Jamun, Syzygium cumini Skeels, belongs to the family Myrtaceae and genus Eugenia which comprises about 1000 species of evergreen trees and shrubs. Some of the old-world Eugenia spp., are now placed in the genus Syzygium. The genus Syzygium is a multipurpose genus with many important species.
Jamun is a hardy crop and can be grown evenon neglected and marshy areas where other fruits trees cannot be grown successfully. In India it is cultivated in an unorganized manner, therefore, consolidated information regarding its area and production is not available. However, in a very recent report it is mentioned that India ranks second and contributes about 15.4% of total world production i.e. 13.5 Mt. Maharashtra is the largest jamun producing state followed by Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Assam and others.
Jamun is a non-climacteric fruit, delicious in taste and packed with good nutritional qualities. Fruit is fleshy, 3-4 cm long, oval shaped and containing a hard seed inside. Its appearance resembles with blueberry in shape and color. Because of its health benefits and limited availability, jamun fruits are sold at high price of Rs.150-250 per kilogram. As a fruit andfood, it has several uses, and is now widely used in processed form of sherbet, squash, ready-to-drink beverage, jam, jelly, wine., etc. ‘Jambava’, a distilled liquor made from jamun is said to be popular in some parts of the country. Jamun vinegar is now available in super-markets in India.
The results published based on clinical nutrition in the past twenty years indicate that jamun is an excellent source of several natural antioxidant compounds having great therapeutic properties. It has promising medicinal values due a variety of phytochemicals present in it such as tannins, alkaloids, steroids, flavonoids, terpenoids, fatty acids, phenols, minerals, carbohydrates and vitamins. It nutritionally rich, containing 19.7% carbohydrates, 0.7% proteins, 0.02% calcium, 0.1% fat, 0.01% phosphorous, 0.4% mineral matter, 0.1% iron and 0.9% fiber. Epidemiological studies report that dietary intake of fruits and vegetables in general and antioxidant-rich foods in particular reduces the risk ofseveral diseases like cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, cancer, etc. Jamun is being used in several ayurvedic formulation prescribed for management of diabetes. Jamun is one such fruit that has several health benefits, particularly seeds of jamun fruit are one of the most sought-after ingredients by several pharmaceutical companies. Different parts of the jamun tree like fruits, seeds, leaves, and bark are reported to have various therapeutic properties likethey are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuropsycho-phar- macological, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-HIV,antifugal, nitric oxide scavenging, free radical scavenging, anti-diarrheal, anti-infertility, anorexigenic, gastroprotective and anti-ulcerogenic and radio-protective. Jamun is used as an effective medicine against digestive problems andprevent liver troubles such as necrosis and fibrosis.
Most of the lifestyle diseases or non-infectious diseases are said to be originating from within the body due to imbalance in free radicals. Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) or free radicals as they are called, are produced as a consequence of normal aerobic metabolic process in our body. These free radicals are usually scavenged by a team of antioxidants present in our body, so that oxidative stress induced damage to the tissues is minimized. But when there is an imbalance or relative deficiency of antioxidants in the body’s defense system, it may lead to oxidative stress and cause damage to some of the tissues ultimately resulting in an ailment or disorder. The non-neutralized free radical roamed around in the body, causing disruption in cellular communication, damage DNA, oxidize polyunsaturated fatty acids (lipid peroxidation), oxidize amino acids in proteins and inactivate specific enzymes by oxidation of co-factors. Sometimes, even infectious diseases or pathogens also cause similar effects in the body. Therefore, to buffer the antioxidant capacity of the body, foods rich in antioxidants have to be consumed. Protective foods like jamun is said to bring about such a buffering in the body due to the presence of flavonoids (anthocyanins and anthocyanidins) like malvidine, petunidin, cyanidin, delphinidin, peonidin and other secondary metabolites. These compounds possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, cardioprotective, and neuroprotective effects.Jamunhelpsin preventing the cancer by inhibiting the formation of carcinogen induced, as well as oxidative DNA damage, inhibits tumorigenesis (induced by carcinogen), and modulates the signaling pathways which are involved in cellular proliferation, inflammation, and cell cycle arrest.
Due to its great commercial value, it has potential for increasing the farmers’ income and enrichingconsumer’s health. It can be extensively cultivated in the larger parts of India from the north Indo-gangetic plains to Tamil Nadu in south.However, jamun prefers tropical and subtropical climate but can also be grown in lower ranges of the Himalayas. Flowering and fruit setting stages require dry weather. Early rain at the time of fruit ripening is found beneficial for proper development of its size, colour and taste in subtropical regions. Jamun has no serious pest and diseases because of its hardy nature. Fruits are highly perishable, therefore, to regulate the marketing and increasegrowers remuneration, it is necessary to prolong shelf-life of fruits. It has great potential to contribute to the economy of the nation and economic upliftment of the farmers.