What Is The Nance Fruit And Is It Good For You?

Written by Varsha Patnaik , MSc (Biotechnology), Certified Diet & Nutrition Coach

The yellow cherry-like nance fruit is becoming popular in modern cuisines. Though it may seem like a new entrant into the American supermarkets, the fruit has been widely used in traditional foods, beverages, and medicines. Its distinct odor and flavor are also gaining attention and have got people polarized. But you have to try it to see if you love it or hate it. The interesting part is – the nance fruit is a powerhouse of nutrients and can offer you a plethora of health benefits. Let’s explore further in this article.

What Is The Nance Fruit?

Nance is a cherry-sized yellow or red berry that grows wild in the Central and Latin Americas and the Caribbean. It is also referred to as nanche, hogberry or yaca. It is sweet and pungent and has a big pit containing one to three seeds nestled within its whitish, creamy, and oily pulp. The fruit can sometimes taste acidic or bitter as well. What sets the nance fruit apart though is its distinctive smell. Some describe it as soapy, while others can’t quite describe it.

Nances grow on the nance tree (Byrsonima crassifolia), a flowering shrub that thrives in backyards, open forests, and savannas. Nances are used in jams, popsicles, preserves, desserts, beverages, and even savory dishes. You can even eat it straight off the tree. The nance is generally yellow, but you can find a red variety (commonly called guajacote) in Mexico and Costa Rica.

Now that you know what is a nance fruit, let’s take a detailed look at the nutrients it contains.

Nutritional Profile Of The Nance Fruit

You can cook with nances or eat them raw. Either way, the fruit has a lot to offer in terms of the macro- and micronutrients (1).

Nutritional Content Of Nance Fruit (112 g or 1 cup, without pits)
Energy81.8 kcalIron, Fe0.426 mg
Carbohydrate19 gMagnesium, Mg22.4  mg
Dietary Fiber8.4 gPhosphorus, P11.2  mg
Protein0.73gPotassium, K273   mg
Fat1.3gVitamin C104   mg
Sugar9.31gSodium, Na3.36  mg
Calcium, Ca      51.5  mgZinc, Zn0.101 mg
Carotene, beta      44.8  µgCopper, Cu0.046 mg
Carotene, alpha      3.36  µgManganese, Mn0.278 mg
Cryptoxanthin, beta5.6 µgSelenium, Se0.448 µg
Vitamin E1.4 mgFolate8.96  µg
Lutein + zeaxanthin637   µgThiamin0.017 mg
Vitamin K13.3  µgNiacin0.325 mg
Tocopherol, beta0.056 mgRiboflavin0.02  mg
Tocopherol, gamma2.11  mgPantothenic acid0.202 mg
Tocopherol, delta0.325 mgVitamin B-60.024 mg
Tocotrienol, alpha0.034 mgVitamin A, IU82.9  IU
Tocotrienol, gamma0.056 mgVitamin A, RAE4.48  µg

The nance fruit is loaded with vitamin C and dietary fiber. It is also replete with carotenoids and minerals. Its rich nutrient profile makes the nance fruit quite beneficial for human health. We discuss its health benefits in the following section.

5 Potential Health Benefits Of The Nance Fruit

1. May Promote Gut Health

The dietary fiber in nance may help treat irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, and chronic constipation. Half a cup of the nance fruit can offer 4 grams of dietary fiber. That is 16% of the daily value for a 2000 calorie diet as prescribed under the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2). Dietary fiber can do wonders for your intestinal environment as the friendly gut bacteria feed and thrive on it. Dietary fiber, especially from whole fruits, can also lower the risk of various diseases associated with the gastrointestinal tract (3).

2. May Help Maintain Skin Health

Have a cup of nance fruit and you are on top of your required vitamin C intake for the day. Vitamin C is linked with increased collagen production and helps reduce photo UV damage. It may help keep your skin youthful and resilient against environmental damage. The antioxidant-rich profile of nance fruit helps fight against free radicals and reduces the chances of premature skin aging (4).

Nances also contain vitamin E that is quite popular in the cosmetic industry. Vitamin E stabilizes the skin barrier and protects it from photodamage. Although further studies are required, vitamin E may help reduce the risk of skin cancer and UV damage (5). This vitamin also reduces inflammation and may help in the treatment of eczema or acne (6).

The combination of vitamin C and vitamin E is effective in reducing skin damage and regenerating healthy skin (7). While the effects of vitamins C and E have been well studied, further research on the nance fruit and its skin benefits is warranted.

3. May Reduce Risk Of Heart Disease

The dietary fiber in nances may help regulate blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and triglyceride levels (8).

Studies suggest that soluble fiber can reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) by obstructing its absorption. LDL cholesterol is responsible for high blood pressure and may also increase the risk of stroke (9). Another study has found that eating at least 25 grams of fruit with white flesh may reduce the risk of heart attack (or stroke) by 9 percent (10).

4. May Help Counter Lead Toxicity

Vitamin C in nances may help reduce the effects of lead accumulation in the body. Lead poisoning increases oxidative stress and disrupts bodily functions. In a study, exposed battery workers (with high blood lead levels) on vitamin C supplementation had reduced levels of oxidative stress and increased antioxidant status. While vitamin C may not lower blood lead levels, it may help reduce the associated oxidative stress (11).

5. May Reduce Cancer Risk

Vitamin C in nances may reduce the risk of lung, mouth, stomach, rectum, throat, and esophageal cancers (12). In a study, terminal cancer patients given supplemental vitamin C had improved quality of life and longer survival periods (13).

The dietary fiber in nance fruit may also reduce the risk of colon cancer. Dietary fiber may also decrease the risk of gastrointestinal cancers and cancers of the breast, ovary, and endometrium (14).

Nance fruit has not been studied individually as a potential anti-cancer food. But there is substantial evidence to suggest that the selenium and carotenoids in the fruit play a protective role in cancer prevention. Nances are rich in lutein and alpha- and beta-carotenes as well that may have anti-cancer potential (15), (1).

So how do you get all these benefits from nance?

How To Add The Nance Fruit To Your Diet

If you live in Central or Latin America or the Caribbean, chances are you will easily find fresh nance fruits. If not, you may always look at international or frozen food sections of your nearest supermarket. You can identify nances by their smooth and thin golden yellow, orange or red peel and a distinctly strong odor. You may eat them raw (discard the pit with seeds) or cook them to prepare delicious meals. Nances also do well in smoothies and fruit salads.

In Mexico, locals enjoy nances with a sprinkle of chili powder and a squeeze of lime. If you know how to make marmalade, you can prepare a batch with nances. Nances also work great as a vinegar pickle or jam. They are quite versatile as they are used in desserts and savory dishes. If you are looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, you can add sliced nances to a one-pot meal of chicken, olives, and rice.

Let’s check out one popular recipe using nances that you can prepare at home.

Popular Recipe Using Nances

There are many different ways to enjoy nances. Pesada de nance, a recipe from Panama, is quite popular among kids and adults. It is also easy to prepare.

Pesada De Nance

This is a traditional recipe that uses the pulp from tart nance fruits, water, cornstarch, and sugar. It is a smooth cream that can be served hot or cold with crumbly and salty fresh cheese on top.

Preparation Time

15 minutes

Cooking Time

12 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 cups of nance
  • 3 liters of water
  • 3/4thcup of water
  • 1 cup of cornstarch
  • Optional: 1 lime/a handful of pineapple chunks

Process

  1. Add the nance to a blender and pour water till it covers the top of the fruit.
  2. Blend for 5 to 10 seconds. Do it quickly so you do not break or blend the seeds.
  3. Sieve the puree through a colander, pressing gently with your hands to get all the creamy pulp and leave the seeds behind. Add a little water if required to get all of the juice out.
  4. Taste the pulpy juice you have collected. If it tastes bland, squeeze in some lime or add some sieved pineapple puree.
  5. Pour the juice into a pot and set it over medium-high heat.
  6. Add sugar and cornstarch and the remaining water (if any).
  7. Keep stirring for 7 to 12 minutes or until it thickens up to a consistency that you like.
  8. Serve it hot with feta, cottage cheese, or queso Blanco. If you want it cool, chill it in the fridge.

Now you know a delicious way to have the nance fruit. However, before you indulge in this cherry-like fruit, you must consider certain safety precautions.

Safety Precautions To Be Considered While Eating Nances

Nances have not been studied widely or extensively. Hence, not much is known about how these fruits may interact with medications or specific health conditions. You can consult your doctor if you are worried about including nances in your diet. In case you are allergic to acerola cherries, you may want to steer clear of nances (as the two belong to the same Malpighia plant family).

Summary

Nances are a lesser-explored fruit variety. They look like yellow cherries but have a distinctive odor and taste. They are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and carotenoids that make them a great fruit with various potential health benefits. You can find nances in bottles in local markets or in the frozen food section of your nearest supermarket. Nances add a unique flavor to desserts and savory dishes and you can enjoy them while fulfilling your nutritional requirements.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

What are the other names of the nance fruit in English?

The nance fruit is also called yellow cherry or golden spoon in English.

What do nances smell like?

Nances have a distinctive and strong odor that some claim to be soapy. This smell could be attributed to its high oil content.

How do you pronounce nance fruit?

You pronounce it nahn-say.

References:

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Nance Frozen Unsweetened
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167789/nutrients
  2. Position of the American Dietetic Association: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18953766/
  3. Whole Fruits and Fruit Fiber Emerging Health Effects
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6315720/
  4. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health
    https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/8/866/htm
  5. Vitamin E: Critical Review of Its Current Use in Cosmetic and Clinical Dermatology
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1524-4725.2005.31724
  6. Vitamin E in Dermatology
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4976416/
  7. UV photoprotection by combination topical antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin E
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12789176/
  8. A Prospective Study of Different Types of Dietary Fiber and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: Tehran Lipid and Glucose Study
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5133074/
  9. Dietary Fiber Is Beneficial for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5731843/
  10. Colors of Fruit and Vegetables and 10-Year Incidence of Stroke
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21921279/
  11. Effect of Vitamin C Supplementation on Blood Lead Level, Oxidative Stress and Antioxidant Status of Battery Manufacturing Workers of Western Maharashtra, India
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4866087/#b21
  12. Vitamin C in Disease Prevention and Cure: An Overview
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3783921/
  13. Prolongation of Survival Times of Terminal Cancer Patients by Administration of Large Doses of Ascorbate
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6811475
  14. Dietary Fiber and Cancer Prevention
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889858818304520
  15. Nutrition and Cancer: A Review of the Evidence for An Anti-Cancer Diet
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC526387/
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