In News: According to one theory by US researchers in a review paper published in 2022 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, the receptors for sour taste developed in fish which then evolved into terrestrial organisms.
- These ancient fish would most likely have had the receptors all over their bodies to judge the pH of the water (sourness would indicate acidity) in which they were venturing
- The hog plum is scientifically classified as a member of the Anacardiaceae family, sharing space with the cashewnut and mango.
- Its genus, Spondias, has a history of use going back at least as far as 6500 BC in the Tehuacán Valley of Mexico.
- The Spondias pinnata tree is deciduous and can reach a height of around 25 m. It is usually found in home gardens in tropical regions — it is not restricted to India and is common in countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Bali, where it is part of traditional food and medicine
- The hog plum, called ambara or amra in Hindi, is used as an important souring agent in several cuisines all across the country.
- For instance, in the Western Ghats, especially the Konkan area and Goa, the hog plum (called ambade or ambado in Konkani) provides a tangy taste to both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes like khatkhate, a mixed vegetable stew.
- It is also used to make a sweet and sour chutney in Goa and in West Bengal. In Kerala, the fruit is used to make a pickle.
- At first glance, the hog plum looks like a green unripe mango but small fruit has very little pulp and is more sour in taste than an unripe mango.
- The fruit is an important source of nutrients and even has medicinal properties.
- It is rich in phenolic compounds, natural antioxidants and minerals and has ascorbic acid, malic acid, calcium and phosphorus
- The fruit not only aids digestion, but is also said to possess antidiabetic properties.
- It could help in cancer treatment – used to extract to prepare hematite (iron ore) nanoparticles which were found to be quite successful in controlling mammalian cancer cells.
- Nanaoparticles are used to deliver medication to cancerous sites and lower the amount of drugs needed.
- Production of nanoparticles can be expensive, and the widely available hog plum could help lower the costs
- Mucositis (inflammation of the mucous membranes in the digestive tract) is common in people receiving chemotherapy.
- Hog plum extract can be used to decrease the burden of this condition in people undergoing the treatment
- The bark extract of the hog plum tree can also protect against oxidative and inflammatory changes that occur in the body during mucositis.
- Hog plum seeds contain compounds which help suppress parasites such as Plasmodium berghei, which causes malaria in certain rodents.
- As effective in treatment as metformin, a commonly used diabetes medicine,