Turkey Berry Health Benefits

Turkey Berry, also known as “Sundakkai”, is a south Indian staple. It is grown under tropical conditions in backyards and used in a variety of cuisines. This tangy taste has gained popularity these days due to the many turkey berry health benefits.

For people suffering from low hemoglobin, turkey berries can be a lifesaver, as these berries can increase the production of blood and reduce anemia and other blood-related disorders. These berries also improve digestion and can solve many problems, like diarrhea, acidity, indigestion, and stomach pain.

Turkey berries can be added in many different ways, but one of the most popular ways is curry, with some spices like turmeric, curry leaves, and other herbs, which also boosts the benefits of turkey berry.

Also check out Turkey Berry Curry and Turkey Berry Stew (Susumba)!

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Turkey Berry Plant:

Turkey berry is basically an erect and slender perennial shrub 2-3 m tall. This plant can grow well in places with full sunlight but cannot survive in a closed forest canopy; this plant is adapted to a wide range of soils.

The roots of the turkey berry are deep and strong. Its woody taproot contains many woody laterals. The plants only start to flower and fruit when it reaches the height of 1.5 m. it can reach that height in a year but die after two years.

This plant can reproduce alone by seeds.

Turkey’s berry plant is also known as wild tomatoes, prickly Solanum, and devil fig. this plant is like a shrub with pea-sized berries, which can be found everywhere.

Turkey berry is an edible plant, from root to its fruit; it provides a bit tangy taste after washing properly. This berry was first introduced in Thai, Jamaican, and Indian cuisines to add a tangy taste to their soup, pastes, curries, and sauces.

There are several pieces of evidence (Xu Yang, 2014) of the usage of this berry as medicine for centuries.

Turkey berry tree


This plant is considered to be originated in South and Central America, where it can be found from Mexico to Peru and Brazil. It is also widespread in the Caribbean.

Although it originated in America, it has gained popularity as a useful plant throughout the tropics and subtropics. And now, it is a tropical plant weed cultivated as a small-scale vegetable in Asia.

Health Benefits of Turkey Berry

1-Manage Diabetes

Turkey berry contains rutin, caffeic acid, catechins, and gallic acid, which are bioactive phenolic compounds that help in reducing sugar levels.

Studies (Gopalsamy Rajiv, 2011) have shown the effect of these compounds on boosting insulin secretion. They were also found to reduce the effect of enzymes taking part in sugar metabolism and oxidative stress. These bioactive phenolic compounds can also protect the cells from harmful agents, known as a cytoprotective effect.

The best way to use turkey berry to control sugar is by drying out the turkey leaves and using their powder in cooking. Turkey berries can also be cooked and used to lower blood sugar.

2-Lower Blood Pressure

Almost 50% of adults suffer from high blood pressure in the United States, which is a major risk factor for many diseases like stroke and cardiovascular diseases.

Research (Mohan, 2009) has shown that compounds present in turkey berries can help in lowering blood pressure. As it is loaded with different unique compounds like ferulic acid, and gallic acid, which have shown antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties during studies.

This plant has many therapeutic properties. These berries also contain fructose which can increase blood pressure, but studies (Mohan, 2009) show that ethanolic extract present in turkey berries can help in preventing that fructose effect.

As these berries can reverse the metabolic alteration affected by fructose.

3-Fight Against Infection:

Turkey berry can reduce the growth of bacteria, which can cause several infections in the body. According to a study (Rodríguez-García, 2019), turkey berry can be very effective against certain bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, and Escherichia coli.

Turkey berries have also been very famous for treating skin infections. These berries contain certain bioactive compounds like torvoside A, torvoside H, and torvanol A, which fight against skin diseases like herpes simplex virus type 1. Hence turkey berry can also protect the body from viruses.

4-Can Reduce Oxidative Stress:

Turkey berry increases the antioxidant enzyme activity, which reduces oxidative stress. This process also protects the body against heavy metal toxicity. Several types of research (C. H. Ramamurthy, 2016) found the role of turkey berries in protecting the liver and kidney against heavy metals like cadmium.

Therefore, these berries can also help reduce oxidative stress caused by the induction of heavy metals. And works as functional foods.

5-Increase Immunity:

Turkey berries contain antimicrobial properties, which can increase the body’s immune function in many different ways. According to a study (Arthan, 2002), turkey berry can be very effective against the disease herpes simplex, which is a viral disease.

The antimicrobial properties of turkey berries are very useful in healing the cuts and ulcers and keeping the wound clean. Therefore, the turkey berry plant leaves were used to treat wounds in ancient times.

The leaves were dried and then crushed into the powder. This powder was mixed with water and then applied to the wound to keep the wound clean.

6-Can Treat Diarrhea and Indigestion:

Turkey berries are good for digestion and can help in reducing digestive problems like stomach, diarrhea, and indigestion. These berries can help Neutralize acids present in the stomach, which can further take part in healing the gastric ulcer.

Moreover, the antimicrobial properties of turkey berries can also help reduce gastric ulcers and heal intestinal wounds.

7-Prevents Intestinal Worms:

Regular intake of turkey berries can help reduce the formation of intestinal worms present in the intestine. These worms can cause significant health issues like tap worms present in the intestine can occur because of many diseases like blockage of the intestine or in the ducts of the intestine.

The larva of these worms can move out from the intestine and migrate toward other parts of the body. This larva can cause damage to some major organs like the liver and heart. So, try to eat healthy and properly cooked meals and, Use dried or powdered berries in gravies and eat for better results.

8-Can Help in Treating Anemia:

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies found worldwide. And anemia is a common condition that can be caused due to lower intake of iron. Fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath can be symptoms of this disease.

Turkey berry is a rich source of iron and can be used to treat anemia. These berries can increase the production of red blood cells. But studies (Agbemafle, 2019) show that the higher concentration of iron in turkey berry cannot be absorbed through the digestive tract unless it is paired with vitamin C-rich food like strawberry, bell pepper, and other citrus fruits, which can increase the absorption of plant-based iron.

9-Prevent Cough and Cold:

When added to a soup, Berries can help prevent and heal the symptoms of cough and cold. Turkey berries are also used to get rid of mucus and Belgium. Dried and powdered berries can also help in drying up the mucus. Moreover, the powder of these berries can also be used for treating asthma, coughing, and lung inflammation.

10-As a treatment For Kidney Disease and Cancer:

Many types of research show the medical importance of turkey berry. Some say that it can treat skin diseases, and some say it is good for a patient suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure. Turkey berries are also said to be anti-inflammatory and reduce kidney problems. Berries can also reverse tubular necrosis and congestion in the kidney.

Moreover, turkey berries’ antibacterial and antifungal properties can reduce excessive cell growth and prevent cancer. Turkey berries are also said to be beneficial for lung cancer.

11-Reduce Cardiovascular Diseases:

Turkey berries contain many antioxidants like alkaloids, tannins, glycosides, flavonoids, torvosides, and saponins, which can be very effective against cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and stroke. The dried and powdered berry also helps reduce blood pressure, which can be a risk factor for heart diseases.

12-Regulate Menstruation:

Consumption of turkey berry regularly can help in regulating Menstruation in women. It can also be very helpful in irregular menstrual periods. Moreover, the high amount of iron present in these berries can also be helpful during Menstruation.

So, anyone facing menstrual problems can add turkey berries to their diet to solve all the problems related to periods.

13. Reduce Pain and Symptoms of Gout:

Berries can help flush out uric acid and prevent pain, redness, and gout symptoms. Moreover, the turkey berry leaves contain soasoline, anti-inflammatory agents, and natural steroids. Which can be very helpful for arthritis, lower back pain, swelling, and general pain.

Turkey berries contain anti-inflammatory properties and can be very important for overall health because all diseases are related to inflammation.

Some Other Traditional Uses and Benefits of Turkey Berry

  • Different parts of the turkey berry plant have been used for medical purposes and are considered anti-rheumatic, antiphlogistic, diuretic, and anti-infectious.
  • Ancient Mexico used this plant to treat rheumatism, infections, and vaginal bleeding rather than the menstrual cycle.
  • Young fruits of this plant are used for improving eyesight. And young leaves are used for the treatment of skin diseases like sores and pimples.
  • In India, the plant is used as an antidote for snakebite, the powder of dried leaves is used as medicine for diabetic patients, and the fruits to relieve stomach pain.
  • In the Philippines, the dried roots of turkey berries are processed into syrup or alcohol and used as a treatment for indigestion, stomach ache, amenorrhea, rheumatism, and gastric pain.
  • In Malaysia, the pounded roots are used for cracking soles. And the seeds are smoked for the treatment of toothache.
  • In China, this plant is used to relieve pain and also to disperse extravasated blood. It is also used in many ayurvedic treatments as an ayurvedic herb.
  • The fruit of this plant is given to children for the treatment of cough and also to treat the sore throat in Sierra Leone.
  • The people of West Bengal used to cook the leaves of turkey berry with dry fish and eat it with warm rice as a treatment for rheumatic pain.
  • In Cameroonian, this plant is also used to treat wounds and fever and manage pain and inflammation as well.
  • Turkey’s berries have been very famous in central America and India for their antimicrobial properties. Gabon people also used it for healing their wounds.
  • The juice of turkey berries is a drink to reduce body heat, especially in summer in Tamil Nadu.

How To Add Turkey Berry to Diet?

Turkey berry might sound like something sweet and delicious, which you can enjoy as a snack or on a breakfast table. But turkey berries are not like other berries.

These are bitter and pungent in taste. But this bitterness can be taken out by sautéing the berries on medium flame until their color turns to change. Then, these can easily be added to any favorite seasoning.

You can also add garlic, onion, and methi seeds, in hot oil while sautéing the berries, which will give them a different taste. Always choose fresh, thin-skinned, and green turkey berries which are clustered together tightly.

 In order to clean turkey berries properly, first cut them into halves, then immerse them into the water to remove the seeds and reduce the bitterness; repeat the process 2 to 3 times.

Although these berries have a bitter taste, they can still be used in various dishes if cooked properly. Turkey berries are also used for herbal teas. This tea is highly nutritious and contains iron. Turkey berry fruits are dried and then processed into tea bags.  

Bottom Line:

Turkey berries are small tropical green berries with a bitter taste but a lot of health benefits. These berries are packed with multiple nutrients, especially vitamin A, C, and iron, in large quantities. Consuming a small amount of these berries on a regular basis can be a great choice for people suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes, and anemia.

These berries are also rich in antioxidants, reducing oxidative stress and other related disorders. Turkey’s berry is used in many different countries of the world for different medical purposes and treatments. But the excess amount of this fruit can cause nausea and dizziness. So, always consult your doctor before adding anything to your diet.

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Turkey berries in wooden bowl

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  1. I use the juice from both the fruit and leaves boiled together in a earthware pot to treat cough and cold. It is a blood tonic too.

  2. Depending on where you live, this plant can be considered an unwanted, invasive species. Interesting to read about the medicinal uses – would love to see your sources for the claims above, rather than just references to “Many types of research”, etc.

        1. You’re very welcome! I’m glad you found the information on the health benefits of turkey berry valuable. It’s always a great idea to explore the nutritional aspects of different foods, and turkey berry certainly has some interesting properties.

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