Star fruit — or carambola — is a sweet and sour fruit that has the shape of a five-point star.
The skin is edible and the flesh has a mild, sour flavor that makes it popular in a number of dishes.
The star fruit is yellow or green in color. It comes in two main types: a smaller, sour variety and a larger, sweeter one
Star Fruit Nutrition Facts
The star fruit is a decent source of several nutrients — especially fiber and vitamin C. Star fruit also contains other substances that make it even healthier.
It is an excellent source of healthy plant compounds, including quercetin, gallic acid, and epicatechin. These compounds have powerful antioxidant properties and various health benefits.
The plant compounds in star fruit have been shown to reduce fatty liver risk and cholesterol in mice. They’re also being studied for their ability to prevent liver cancer in mice.
What’s more, some evidence from animal studies suggests that the sugars in star fruit may reduce inflammation. However, research to confirm these potential benefits of star fruit in humans is lacking.
Safety and Side Effects
Star fruit may cause adverse effects in some people, mainly due to its high oxalate content. Therefore, people with kidney problems should avoid star fruit and its juice — or consult with a doctor before trying it. For people with kidney problems, eating star fruit regularly may lead to kidney damage as well as star fruit toxicity, which may cause neurological problems — such as confusion, seizures, and even death. People taking prescription drugs should also proceed with caution. Similarly to grapefruit, star fruit can alter the way a drug is broken down and used by your body.
You may be reluctant to try star fruit if you don’t know how to prepare it.
Here’s a simple way to prepare and eat star fruit:
Make sure it’s ripe — a ripe star fruit should be primarily yellow with only hints of green.
Rinse the fruit under water.
Cut off the ends.
Remove the seeds and enjoy.
The African star apple is a native fruit that grows in tropical countries of Africa like Nigeria and Uganda. It contains many nutrients that are beneficial for your health. Its scientific name is Chrysophyllum albidum, and it belongs to the Sapotaceae family. The African star apple trees bear ripe, yellow fruits from December to March.
In Nigeria, the African star apple is known as Agbalumo in the southwest and Udara in the southeast. African star apple fruits are sweet and sour and are enjoyed by people of all ages. They can be eaten fresh or stewed. They have a pink-colored pulp that is used to make juice, jams, syrup, marmalade, and soft drinks. The oil from African star apple seeds is used for medicinal purposes, as it is rich in nutrients and natural antioxidants.
What Are African Star Apple Health Benefits?
In Nigeria, African star apples are often used as a home remedy and herbal treatment. They are used in medicine because of their beneficial properties:
Antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help detoxify your body. They hunt for toxic molecules called free radicals, which can cause oxidative damage to your cells. African star apples contain antioxidants that get rid of free radicals and protect your organs from damage.
Anti-inflammatory properties. African star apple fruits are abundant in anti-inflammatory substances like alkaloids, flavonoids, and phenols. These reduce inflammation in your body and prevent long-term health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and heart problems.
Antimicrobial properties. Lab studies have shown that extracts from African star apple seeds have antibacterial and antifungal properties. However, more studies are required to determine dosage and effect on humans.
Furthermore, the African star apple:
- Improves heart health.African star apples are a rich source of natural antioxidants such as flavonoids and vitamin E, C, and A. They prevent oxidative damage of cells and promote heart health.
Studies have also shown that the African star apple contains glycosides. They are antioxidants that help fight heart disease. The fruit also contains low levels of sodium and high levels of potassium, which makes it a healthy snack for people with high blood pressure.
- Helps manage and control diabetes. Evidence suggests that African star apple pulp can lower blood sugar levelsand act as an effective dietary supplement to manage diabetes. The fruit contains high amounts of fiber, which lowers blood sugar. It also contains natural antioxidants that fight oxidative damage and prevent diabetes.
African star apple also lowers the levels of enzymes such as alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase, which break down carbohydrates and increase blood sugar levels. This suggests that the fruit can be consumed to help manage diabetes.
- Prevents cancer. A high-fiber and antioxidant-rich diet can prevent different types of cancer, such as colorectal cancer. Research shows that African star apples may play an important role in preventing the growth of cancerous cells. African star apples are rich in pectin, a type of fiber, and antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamin E. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help prevent cancer growth.
- Lowers bad cholesterol levels. High levels of bad cholesterolcan increase your risk of developing blockage in your arteries. This can lead to heart problems and stroke. Chrysophyllum albidumor African star apple fruits contain compounds called saponins. They bind to bad cholesterol and prevent it from entering your bloodstream. African star apples also have high levels of pectin or fiber, which improves good cholesterol levels.
Research also shows that vitamin C in food can increase the levels of good cholesterol. Snacking on African star apples can increase your vitamin C levels and, in turn, improve cholesterol levels.
- Helps cure and prevent diarrhea.Traditionally, African star apples are used to prevent diarrhea. They have high pectin and fiber content. Eating African star apples can treat diarrhea and improve your bowel movements.
- May improve memory and brain function. A recent animal study showed that African star apples improved memory and brain function in mice. Substances known as lipopolysaccharides can affect memory and cognitionby increasing oxidative damage, inflammatory molecules, and chemical activity in the brain. When mice were given a diet of Chrysophyllum albidumfruits, though, their memory and cognition improved. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of these fruits likely reverse the damage caused by lipopolysaccharides and restored brain function. However, human studies are required to confirm this medical benefit.
- Prevents obesity and aids in weight loss. Doctors recommend high-fiber diets to prevent obesityand aid in weight loss. Fiber makes you stay full for longer and reduces your appetite, thus helping you lose weight. African star apples have low calories and high fiber content. They can help you control your weight and prevent obesity.
- Other health benefits. Chrysophyllum albidumis a great source of micronutrients and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. Your body uses these minerals to maintain electrolyte balance, transmit brain signals, and build strong bones and teeth. Zincpresent in African star apples promotes the growth and maintenance of your body’s cells. The fruit also provides copper and manganese, which help activate proteins and enzymes in your body.
How to Include African Star Apple in Your Diet
African star apple fruits are a great source of essential nutrients and have many health benefits. They can be eaten as a healthy snack, or you can use them to add a sweet and sour flavor to your drinks and desserts.