I was doing my Christmas shopping the other day at the local market when I sighted one of my favourite fruits– African Star Apple aka Agbalumo by the Yorubas or Udara in Igbo. My joy knew no bounds, people. Yes, it’s Agbalumo season, yay!
Everything about the fruit, I love. The way the delicious milky juice and seed escapes from its confines and seeps into your waiting mouth when it is pressed and how your teeth goes to work on the red pulp inside is pure bliss. I remember as a child, I would chew and chew the red parts until it became sticky and passed for chewing gum. Erm, I still do that. I can take up to six at a go; that is how much I love this fruit.
The African star apple (Chrysophyllum Albidum) is common in the tropics. It has up to 5 or 6 seeds in it and they form a star-like shape, hence its name. It is usually orange in colour. I prefer the ones that are deep orange because they are sweeter. You should have this in mind when next you are buying some. I’m sure you’d thank me later. In Nigeria, the season of Agbalumo usually falls between December and March. It is very cheap; you can get one for as low as 10 naira. Surprisingly, this fruit has many amazing health benefits that would interest you. Here are some of them.
- Low in calories and High in Fibre: Because of the fibre present in this fruit, you get satiated easily. It is thus a good choice for those on a diet. 1 portion of the fruit contains about 67 calories and about 3g of fibre.
- Good source of Vitamin C: The red pulp is rich in Vit. C and A. African star apple contains more Vit. C than Oranges and Guava. It provides about 5% of the daily recommended value. Vitamin C is needed to fight scurvy and prevent gum diseases.
- Natural Anti-Oxidant: Antioxidants protect the cells in your body against the effects of free radicals that could cause illnesses such as heart attack and cancer. Agbalumo contains antioxidants that fight against these diseases and promote heart health.
- Lowers cholesterol and blood sugar: The whitish covering of the seed possess anti-hyperglycemic and hypolipidemic effect that lowers cholesterol and blood sugar respectively. It is therefore ideal for elderly people.
- Treatment of malaria and yellow fever: In traditional medicine, it is believed that the roots, barks and leaves of the Agbalumo tree are effective for treating yellow fever and malaria.
- Helps in the management of Diabetes: According to the research conducted by the “African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology” 2009 edition, “Agbalumo leaves may reduce glucose levels in diabetic rabbits, the same function that insulin serves”.
Other health benefits include treatment of heart problems, hypertension, constipation, toothache, diarrhea etc. There is a widespread belief that when the fruit is plucked from the tree, it tastes sour and acidic, hence it should be allowed to fall naturally to the ground. This is when it’s fully ripe, sweet and ready to eat. Agbalumo could be included when next you are making your desert, cocktail or smoothie. What do you think?
Till next time, Ciao!