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What Are The Health Benefits Of The Ice Cream Bean Fruit?

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ice_cream_bean_jamaicaWhat Are The Health Benefits Of The Ice Cream Bean Fruit? | Image Source| L.A Times

By Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer

I have another gem for you… another unique fruit that we have found right here in Jamaica. It’s called the Ice Cream Bean fruit or scientifically Inga Edulis.

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It was introduced to us by Sir Thomas who migrated to Jamaica about 30 years ago and for the past 20 years has made it his duty to cultivate fruits. Currently, he has somewhere around 100 types of fruits. That’s impressive. During his interview with Wellesley, they dove deep into the numerous health benefits of the plant.

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The Ice Cream Bean fruit is believed to have originated from South and Central America, and for centuries has been revered not only for its exquisite flavour but also for its myriad health benefits and ecological significance.

In different cultures this fruit is used for many different reasons, none specific to us Jamaicans though as it is not a popular or well-known fruit here. In other cultures, it is used for ancient rituals and medicinal remedies. The bark and leaves for example are boiled to treat rheumatism, arthritis, and diarrhoea; the pulp, which is quite tasty, is eaten to treat coughs and lip sores. 

In addition to being delicious, Ice Cream Beans are a nutritious gem as they are full of fibre, protein, vitamins, and minerals. The dark brown beans within contain a wealth of health-promoting components and it's certainly a plus that the white almost cotton candy like pulp, taste almost like vanilla ice cream. 

Speaking of its rich nutritional value, let’s look at some of its health benefits. Here’s 10 of them.

  1. Combatting Inflammation: Rich in flavonoids and antioxidants, Ice Cream Beans combat inflammation, safeguarding against chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
  2. Regulating Blood Sugar: With soluble fibre content, Ice Cream Beans aid in blood sugar regulation, offering a steady energy supply and enhancing insulin sensitivity.
  3. Lowering Cholesterol: Dietary fibre and saponins in Ice Cream Beans contribute to cholesterol reduction, promoting heart health and longevity.
  4. Supporting Blood Pressure: Potassium-rich Ice Cream Beans help regulate blood pressure, mitigating the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular complications.
  5. Anticancer Properties: Phytochemicals like flavonoids exhibit potent anticancer properties, offering protective benefits against various forms of cancer.
  6. Enhancing Digestive Health: High fibre content in Ice Cream Beans supports digestive health by promoting regularity, preventing constipation, and supporting a healthy gut microbiome.
  7. Boosting Immune Function: Abundant in vitamin C and other antioxidants, Ice Cream Beans bolster immune function, helping the body fend off infections and diseases.
  8. Improving Bone Health: Rich in calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, Ice Cream Beans contribute to bone strength and density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
  9. Aiding Weight Management: Low in calories and fat, Ice Cream Beans can aid in weight management by promoting satiety and reducing calorie intake.
  10. Promoting Muscle Health: Protein-rich Ice Cream Beans support muscle growth and repair, making them an ideal addition to an active lifestyle.

Environmental Benefits

Ice Cream Bean trees play a vital role in ecosystem sustainability and biodiversity conservation. As nitrogen-fixers, they enrich the soil, promote plant growth, and enhance agricultural productivity in agroforestry systems. Taking it even further, these trees provide shade and habitat for diverse wildlife, fostering ecological resilience and preserving biodiversity. Integrating Ice Cream Bean trees into agricultural landscapes promotes soil health, mitigates climate change, and fosters sustainable land management practices.

How to have the fruit

Like most fruits, you can have Ice Cream Bean straight from the tree. Simply pop the pods open, eat the pulp and disregard the seeds. Feel free to add the fruit to refreshing smoothies and decadent desserts or even savoury stews and exotic sauces.

If nothing else, Ice Cream Beans are a prime example of nature's abundance, not only providing us with nutritional benefits but also improving the longevity of the plants around it. 

Check out the video below with of Sir Thomas and Wellesley enjoying the Ice Cream Bean Fruit.

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References & Sources For What Are The Health Benefits Of The Ice Cream Bean Fruit?

  1. S., & S. (2020, July 30). Ice Cream Bean facts and health benefits. Health Benefits | Health Benefits of Foods and Drinks. https://www.healthbenefitstimes.com/ice-cream-bean
  2. Blackwood, M. (2023, February 27). Ice Cream Bean (Inga Edulis) Benefits. Healthier Steps. https://healthiersteps.com/ice-cream-bean-inga-edulis-benefits/
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