Toddy is a drink tapped from the sap of various palm tree species such as date palms, coconut palms, and Palmyra. It is common in most countries of Southeast Asia, especially India. Most west and central African countries consume palm toddy. In the West, palm toddy is harvested in Mexico and some Caribbean islands.
Toddy collected early in the morning has a sweetish taste and is non-alcoholic. Once it ferments, it turns sour and becomes an alcoholic drink, also called as palm wine. Palm toddy contains sugar, protein, carbohydrate, amino acid, vitamin C, yeast, potassium, zinc, magnesium, iron, vitamin B1, B2, B3 and B6.
Toddy contains the anti-oxidant vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which is also found in some fruits and vegetables. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is important in improving the eyesight.
Drinking moderate amounts of toddy reduces risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure. It contains potassium, which improves the functioning of the heart and reduces hypertension.
Palm toddy contains vitamin B2 (riboflavin), which is an anti-oxidant that fights against cancer causing free radicals.
The iron and vitamin B content found in palm toddy promote healthy skin, hair and nails. It helps in healing wounds by repairing the tissues and regeneration of healthy cells. Toddy is consumed in small quantities even by women to improve their skin tone and complexion.
In many parts of Africa, toddy is used by natural healers to increase breast milk production in lactating mothers. It is also consumed by the people to promote overall health and to keep diseases at bay.
Like any other alcoholic drink, excessive toddy drinking can damage the liver. Ethanol in toddy can affect lipid metabolism in pregnant women and accumulates fat in the liver affecting its functioning.
Drinking toddy in large quantities increases the risk of hypertension. It affects our body in the same way that other alcoholic drinks do.
Toddy may lead to neurological symptoms like affecting body rigidity and muscle contraction. It can also weaken our nervous system if consumed excessively.
To sum it up, like everything else in life, moderation is the key. Drinking fresh palm toddy before it ferments has numerous health benefits. Once it ferments, it becomes just another alcoholic drink and can harm our body. A simple test of taste will tell you if it is fermented or not – if the toddy is fresh, it will taste sweet. If not, it will taste sour and acidic. Also make sure that the toddy you drink is not adulterated.
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