Star Apple was first documented by the Spanish explorer Cieza de Leon who discovered it growing in Peru in the 1500’s. Later it made its way to the Philippines, Panama, Guatemala, the Caribbean Islands, Zanzibar and the warmer parts of India. In the late 1800’s the United States Department of Agriculture acquired seeds from Jamaica and began growing the Star Apple first in Florida and then soon after in Hawaii. The Star Apple tree thrives in warm to hot tropical climates and is not very tolerant to cold and frost, particularly in young trees. Most commonly Star Apple trees are grown as home trees or in the wild and along roadsides. Commercial production is currently done on a small scale in southern Florida.
The Star Apple is of the family Sapotaceae and relative of the mamey sapote and the green sapote. They are known by a variety of different names such as golden-leaf tree, caimito maduraverde in Spain, caimite and caimitier in France and cainito and ajara in Portugal. There are two different varieties of Star Apples one with purple skin and one with green skin. Both varieties are tree ripened and unlike many tree fruits with not fall off thr tree when mature so must be picked by hand when ripe.
Star Apples are round and approximately two to four inches in diameter at maturity. Its skin is smooth, leathery and depending on variety either purple to red or yellow to green in color. The inner rind of the purple variety is dark purple and in green fruits white. This rind surrounds a soft, creamy, white pulp as well as six to eleven gelatinous seed cells. When the fruit is cut in half the gelatinous cells form a star shape, hence the name of the fruit. Some of the cells encase small, pointed, flat, black seeds. Fruits can contain anywhere between three and ten seeds, those with fewer seeds tend to have the best flavor. The pulp of the Star Apple is aromatic and has a tropical sweet flavor with nuances of apple, lychee and persimmon. Ripe Star Apples will be slightly wrinkled and dull in color with a soft give when squeezed. To fully ripen, keep at room temperature and once ripe store in the refrigerator.
The pulp of the Star Apple provides a fair amount of vitamin C, calcium and phosphorous. Its pulp has also been found to be rich in phytochemicals aka antioxidants, which have been shown to help to prevent certain cancers and support a healthy immune system. The pulp of the Star Apple has been used to treat sore throats and reduce the inflammation associated with pneumonia and laryngitis. When ground the seeds can be used as tonic and diuretic.
In some areas both a beverage made of the bark of the Star Apple tree and the pulp of the fruit are used to treat diarrhea and dysentery. If eaten in excess the Star Apple can cause constipation.
Star Apple are prized for the soft sweet pulp they contain, which is most often enjoyed raw as is but can be used in a number of dessert and beverage preparations as well. Both the skin and rind of the fruit are bitter and inedible, to prepare slice in half and use a spoon to remove the pulp. Aside for a new medicinal purposes typically the seeds are not consumed. Best when serve chilled the pulp of the fruit can be used in beverages, parfaits, sorbet and both green and fruit salads. Its flavor pair well with mango, oranges, condensed milk, coconut milk and whipping cream.
Star Apple scientifically known as Chrysophyllum cainito is a tropical evergreen tree of the family Sapotaceae. It is native to Greater Antilles in the Caribbean. It has spread to the lowlands of Cental America and is now throughout the tropics, including Southeast Asia. Apart from star Apple it is also known as Caimito, Golden Leaf Tree, Milk Fruit, Satin Leaf, Star apple, Star Plum, West Indian Star Apple, Abiaba, Cainito, pomme de lait, estrella and aguay.
Health Benefits of Star Apple
. Digestive Health
Fiber adds bulk to your bank, makes it soft and eliminates it easily through the intestines. Normalizing your bowel movements, fiber star apple helps to get rid of constipation as well as other digestive problems. It also helps prevent the most dangerous health problems such as cancer of the colon.
. Rich in Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a water soluble nutrient which is essential to support several important functions in the human body. This vitamin acts as an antioxidant and is responsible for the production of collagen, healing wounds, protecting the heart, improve immune health, enhance vision, and decrease blood sugar level in diabetic and more.
The antioxidant properties of vitamin C neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals and helps prevent many fatal diseases like cancer and heart disease. It also helps to delay the aging process. Since the human body cannot make vitamin C itself, it is important to consume this nutrient rich food.
. Control Diabetes
Another important benefit of star apple is that it helps control sugar levels in the blood and thus is an ideal food for people suffering from diabetes. It was found that the star apple fiber helps keep the blood sugar under control. This fruit is also rich in antioxidants that protect the body against health problems like diabetes, cancer and heart problems.
. Prevent Iron Deficiency Anemia
Iron deficiency anemia is a common type of anemia that occurs due to insufficient amounts of mineral iron in the body. Iron is essential for your body to produce hemoglobin, a protein molecule in red blood cells which is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. Iron deficiency anemia is frequently characterized by symptoms like fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, headache, dizziness and loss of appetite. This condition can be corrected by taking iron supplements or consuming foods with high iron content like star apple, green leafy vegetables etc.
. Lose Weight
Furthermore, the high amount of dietary fiber in fruit improves its satiety and makes you feel more complete for long periods of time. This help prevent over-eating, which is very important when you are trying to lose weight.
Calcium and phosphorus are two very important minerals necessary for the development of strong teeth and bones. A proper balance of these minerals is needed by the body to maintain good bone health and to prevent numerous bone diseases.
. Medicinal Drugs
In fruit, other plant parts such as seeds, leaves and bark are also used as natural remedies for the treatment of various diseases. The cooking of the leaves or bark is used in thePhilippines to treat dysentery and diarrhea. According to a survey, the shell of the star apple tree has traditionally been used to treat malaria and yellow fever. The leaves have emollient properties and are used for the trearment of stomach pain, diarrhea and skin rash.
According to a survey, the star apple consists of an alkaloid known as eleagnine, which shows a powerful antimicrobial activity. This compound has also been found to possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. The star apple seeds have been used in the preparation of ointments that are designed to fight infections. Researchers also found that the star apple tree leaves exhibit strong antibacterial activity against common bacteria.
Traditional uses and Benefits of Star Apple
. Ripe fruit is consumed to treat inflammation in laryngitis, pneumonia and hemorrhage or is cooked and used as antipyretic in traditional folkloric medicine in tropical America and the Caribbean.
. It is taken as a remedy for diabetes mellitus, and a decoction in gargled relieve angina.
. Decoction of the fruit rind, or of the leaves, is taken as a pectoral.
. Undersides of leaves are grated and applied as a poultice to a wound and a leaf decoction is taken orally for hypoglycaemia.
. Bark, latex and seeds have medicinal uses.
. Decoction of the tannin rich, astringent bark is taken as a tonic and stimulant, and is drunk to stop diarrhea, dysentery and hemorrhage, and also used as a treatment for gonorrhea. And “catarrh of the bladder”.
. Bitter pulverized seed is combined in water and consumed as a tonic, diuretic and febrifuge.
. Latex of the tree is applied on abscesses and, it is utilized as a potent vermifuge
. It is taken as a diuretic, febrifuge and remedy for dysentery.
. Decoction of the bark is given for dysentery in Mexico.
. Infusion of bark is tonic and refreshing in Costa Rica.
. Dried latex is used as antihelminthic.
. In certain countries fruit is used for diabetes.
. Bitter seed sometime used as tonic, for diarrhea and fevers.
. Fruit is eaten for inflammation in laryngitis and pneumonia.
. Decoction of leaves used for hypertention in Ivory Costa.
. Leaf decoction is used for diabetes.
. Unripe fruit is used for intestinal problems in Venezuela.
Decoction of bark is ised as tonic and stimulant: use for diarrhea, dystery, hemorrhages and treatment of gonorrhea.
. Cubans in Miame stated to use the leaf decoction for cancer treatment.
. Poultice of grated leaves applied to wounds.
. Leaf decoction used for hypoglycemic.
. Fruit is used for treating fever and hemorrhage.
. Reddish-brown wood is appropriate for general indoor construction purposes, such as planking, light framing, flooring, interior trim, cladding, paneling lining, shelving, balustrades and partitioning.
. It is also appropriate for inlaying, carving, joinery, moldings, light tool handles, furniture and cabinet making.
. Good-quality veneer and plywood can be obtained from the tree.
. The mature branches are used as a medium to grow orchids.
. The tree is extensively appreciated as an ornamental.
. The bark also yields tannin.
. Latex from the bark has been used as an adulterant of gutta percha.
Reference: specialtyproduce.com / healthbenefitstime.com