Chalta, an evergreen shrub that grows extensively in the wilderness of South-East Asia, in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand, confers numerous excellent benefits for health such as preventing kidney ailments, slowing down ageing and lowering blood pressure. Chalta being its Hindi name, it is commonly called Elephant Apple, since the delicious chalta fruit is hugely popular amongst the local wild elephants, being widely consumed by them. Its scientific name is Dillenia indica.
In India, chalta plants thrive in the swampy forests of the Himalayas, north-eastern states of Assam and Meghalaya, as well as in the woodlands across the country. The fruit that is large, oblong and greenish-yellow in colour, develops in the autumn and winter seasons between October and February. Both the ripe and unripe fruits are used in traditional northeastern cuisine, to prepare curries, pickles, jams, jellies and juices, due to their distinct sweet and sour taste, as well as refreshing aroma.
Chalta is an eternally green shrub, with the trees often grow up to a height of 15 m. The reddish-brown barks hold strong branches with broad serrated leaves. The flowers bloom in summer, being bright white with many petals and sprout into the tangy chalta fruit in colder climates.
An expansive array of useful plant constituents are present in chalta fruits, making them a prominent source of vital nutrients. They are inherently rich in vitamin C, vitamin B complex, vitamin E, potassium, healthy fats, amino acids and proteins, besides being low in cholesterol. Moreover, chalta abounds in beneficial phytochemicals namely tannins, saponins, flavonoids, triterpenoids and phenolics, which supply powerful anticancer, antibacterial and antioxidant characteristics.
Chalta, being naturally low in cholesterol apart from possessing ample potassium, is an ideal remedy for those with hypertension. Eating a small portion of chalta fruits with meals vastly lowers high blood pressure, regulates heartbeat, thereby promoting heart health and serving as a potent cardio-tonic.