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Thursday 29 October 2015

Health Benefits of African Star Apple (Udara)

White star apple, Agbalumo, Udara in Nigeria (Chrysophyllum albidum)

African Star Apple also known as Agbalumo(Yoruba) Udara(Igbo) Eastern Nigeria, is associated with the dry season and has been enjoyed over the years by Nigerians as a fruit.  But more studies are supporting its folklore use for treating/managing diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases and drug resistant bacteria

 The fruits are sub-spherical in shape, about 3cm in diameter, usually 5-celled and contain an edible, sweet pulp
Botanically called Chrysophyllum albidum, star apple belongs to the Sapotaceae family. It is distributed throughout the southern part of Nigeria. In Southwestern Nigeria, the fruit is called agbalumo and popularly referred to as udara in Southeastern Nigeria. Chrysophyllum albidum is a popular tropical fruit tree and widely distributed in the low land rain forest zones and frequently found in villages.

The fleshy pulp of the fruits is eaten especially as snack and its fruit has been found to have higher contents of ascorbic acid than oranges and guava. It is also reported as an excellent source of vitamins, irons, flavors to diets. The seeds are also used for local games or discarded.

Chrysophyllum albidum fruit is common in both urban and rural centres especially during the months of December to April. The fruits are not usually harvested from the trees, but left to drop naturally to the ground where they are picked.

A recent study by researchers  showed that the local cherry fruit, African star apple (Agbalumo, Udara) lowered blood sugar and cholesterol, and could be useful in preventing and treating heart diseases.
Previous studies indicate that the roots, barks and leaves of Chrysophyllum albidum have been employed in folk medicine for the treatment of diseases. The bark is used for the treatment of yellow fever and malaria, while the leaf is used as an emollient and for the treatment of skin eruption, stomachache and diarrhoea. The cotyledons from the seeds of Chrysophyllum albidum are used as ointments in the treatment of vaginal and dermatological infections in Western Nigeria.

The fruit pulp is rich in Vitamin C and iron.

It is also  an excellent source of raw material for industries. Tannins, flavonoids, terpenoids, proteins, carbohydates and resins are the phytochemicals that have been reported in Chrysophyllum albidum.
Eleagnine was found to be the main compound responsible for its antimicrobial activity. Eleagnine was further shown to exhibit anti-nociceptive, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities. The seed cotyledon has been reported to possess anti-hyperglycemic (lowers high blood sugar) and hypolipidemic (lower blood cholesterol)

Being a season fruit, it  is best to consume this nutritious fruits whenever it is in season i.e between December and March (The dry season)  loaded with vitamin C, mother nature knows why it is provided during the dry season , probably to boost our immune system.

It advised however to be consumed in moderation due to the acidic nature in the mouth, this quality will not qualify  it as  acid, since it is actually alkalizing when it gets into the body except on contact with our mouth and delicate stomach lining.  Have you ever wondered why the fruit slaps you, even on the mere sight of it without tasting yet.  This is a food for thought.


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