Neera, also known as palm nectar, is a sweet, translucent drink that has been gaining popularity because of its high nutritional value. It is widely consumed in countries like Africa, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar. It is a non-alcoholic drink produced by tapping palmyra palm, coconut palm or other palms. An incision is made on the spathes of these palms and the liquid that oozes out is collected in earthenware pots overnight. The extraction of Neera is usually done before sunrise because it is very susceptible to fermentation within a few hours of extraction. After neera is collected, it is filtered in order to get rid of foreign particles. Then it is pasteurized, chilled and stored at cool temperatures. The shelf life of Neera at room temperature is only about 2 months while under refrigerated conditions it can keep for about 4 to 6 months. Neera can be used to make several products such as jaggery, sweeteners, concentrated syrup etc.
How is Neera Beneficial to Health?
Neera is a nutritious drink that is amazingly rich in vitamins and minerals. It contains a good amount of minerals like potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc and phosphorus, in addition to vitamins like vitamin C and 12 of the essential B complex vitamins. Neera helps keeps your body hydrated while the nutrients in it nourishes your body and keeps you feeling energetic and refreshed.
Neera Helps Cure Liver Diseases
According to a study conducted by the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, neera is effective in curing liver diseases, especially the liver problems caused as a result of excessive alcohol consumption. Neera has the ability to get rid of acetaldehyde, which is the toxic metabolic product of alcohol that causes liver damage. It also helps in improving the functioning of the liver.
Neera is Ideal for Diabetic Patients
Glycemic Index or GI is a measure of how rapidly and how high a certain food item increases the level of blood sugar by releasing glucose into the blood stream. Neera has a low glycemic index and is therefore considered a safe and healthy drink for people suffering from diabetes. Unlike many traditional sweetening agents, the products made from Neera is capable of providing the same sweetness without causing spikes in blood sugar levels.
Neera Helps Normalize Blood Pressure
Hypertension is a common problem affecting billions of people all over the world. It is also an important risk factor for health problems like stroke, kidney damage and cardiovascular diseases. Studies indicate that coconut neera is effective in managing hypertension and associated complications without causing any side effects. This property of the drink can be attributed to the presence of active biological constituents in it. Coconut neera lowers blood pressure by normalizing the Nitric Oxide pathway and calcium channels, which helps improve endothelial dysfunction and increase peripheral resistance.
Neera helps in digestion.
Neera is a wholesome drink that is good for improving your overall health. Since neera is rich in vitamins and minerals, it can be used as a supplement. Neera contains high amounts of glutamic acid, which is an amino acid used by your body to build proteins. This amino acid is one of the most common neuro transmitter in the nervous system. The drink contains high amounts of vitamins and minerals that boost immune system and helps your body fight against various diseases.
Neera as body coolant
It regulates the body’s fluid balance and controls body temperature. The high amount of electrolytes in neera makes it a good post-operative care drink. It a natural detox drink that does not have any side effects. In addition to the above mentioned benefits, neera is also capable of delivering the following health benefits:
- According to various clinical studies, neera has applications for various health conditions including asthma, anemia, bronchial suffocation, tuberculosis, and piles.
- It is high in inositol, a naturally occurring nutrient, which is beneficial for the treatment of eczema, eye abnormalities, etc. It is also associated with the regulation of enzyme activity, nerve transmission, and transportation of fats within the body. Inositol is essential for hair growth and it also helps prevents hair fall and baldness to a great extent.
- It is a natural remedy for kidney stones as wells as urinary problems.
- Neera helps reduce high cholesterol levels in the blood.
- Neera contains inulin, which is believed to support gut health, prevent colon cancer, promote lipid metabolism, improve immunity, and prevent obesity and fatty liver disease.
- The low Glycemic Index of neera is helpful in preventing many lifestyle diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and even various types of cancers including breast, colon, pancreas and prostate cancers.
- Neera is a good source of antioxidants and therefore exhibits anti-aging properties.
Some Products Obtained from Neera
- Palm Syrup – Palm syrup is produced when fresh neera is heated and concentrated. It is used in Ayurveda and various other systems of medicines and also as a health and wellness drink in many countries.
- Palm Sugar – Palm sugar is crystalline sugar made from neera or palm gur. by deliming, filtering and boiling the juice.
- Palm Honey – It is a thick honey-like liquid syrup used as a sweetener in making items like ice creams. Palm honey is a rich source of iron and is therefore beneficial for anemic patients. It is mainly used in pharmaceuticals formulation.
- Palm Jaggery – Another value added product obtained from neera is palm jaggery, which is a solid or a semisolid crystalline mass. It is used as a sweetening agent.
- Neera is also used to make soft drinks, cookies, chocolate and many delicious sweets.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle by exercising and eating a healthy diet not only improves your bodily function but also helps you lead a disease-free life. In spite of its amazing health benefits, neera has not received the popularity and acceptance it really deserves. This may be due to the fact that it has a short shelf life and many people don’t like its smell. Neera is highly nutritious and delicious drink that can be used both as a health drink as well as a soft drink. So the next time you feel thirsty, instead of reaching for those artificial sugary drinks, drink a glass of neera. Not only does it quench your thirst, but it is also good for your health.