Star apples are unlike the regular apples you come across. This delicate, sweet tropical fruit is widely consumed in summers. It has a ‘starburst’ core and vibrant purple and juicy flesh. The benefits of the star apple can be attributed to its nutrients. It is rich in dietary fiber, vitamin C, and polyphenols and may help lower blood sugar and promote gut health. Keep reading to learn more about the fruit, understand how it may contribute to your health, and ways to consume it.
In This Article
What Is Star Apple?
Star apple (Chrysophyllum cainito L.) is a tropical fruit native to the Caribbean and has now spread to Central American and South Asian countries. It is also known as cainito and caimito.
Nutritionist Lisa Richards says, “The tree grows quickly and produces fruit within just a few years, which is fast for any fruit. They are grown in the United States on farms in Florida, South Texas, and Hawaii as those climates are similar to its native location and can’t grow below 35°F.”
Star apples are available in two varieties: green and purple. They are named star apples because of their star-shaped core, which you can see once you cut a star apple sideways and remove the seeds.
The early civilizations used the tree and its fruit for medicinal purposes (1). Keep reading to learn more about its nutrient content.
Star Apple Nutritional Information
A hundred grams of edible star apple contains the following nutrients (1):
|Dietary Fiber||3 g|
|Vitamin C||3–15 mg|
|Total phenols||217–387 mg|
Richards continues, “Like most fruits, it is consumed for its sweet taste and dense nutrition. The fiber content in star apple makes it a fruit great for heart and gut health. It is also rich in vitamin C, making star apple great for immune support and as an anemia preventative.” Here are some ways star apples will benefit your health.
Potential Health Benefits Of Star Apples
1. Rich Source Of Antioxidants
Star apples are rich in polyphenolic antioxidants like catechin, epicatechin, and quercetin (2). They also contain vitamin C, another powerful antioxidant. Antioxidant-rich foods can reduce the damage caused by harmful free radicals and reduce inflammation. This reduces the risk of many diseases.
2. May Protect Gut Health
Star apples are effective against pathogens (bacteria and fungi) responsible for food poisoning, including species of Staphylococcus, Salmonella, Candida, and Penicillium. Thus, consuming them may help improve gut health and reduce the risk of intestinal infections (3).
3. May Manage Diabetes
Star apples contain many beneficial bioactive compounds, including alkaloids, flavonoids, polyphenols, triterpenoids, and steroids. These compounds can inhibit the glucosidase enzyme, which turns carbohydrates into glucose and spikes blood sugar levels. Consuming star apples may help control blood sugar levels (4).
4. May Lower Blood Pressure
Star apples are widely used in traditional herbal medicine for hypertension management. The alkaloids, tannins, and flavonoids in star apples can inhibit angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) activity (5). ACE constricts the blood vessels, which may raise blood pressure levels. Most hypertension drugs contain ACE inhibitors to manage hypertension.
5. May Promote Cardiovascular Health
Star apples are a good source of cardiac glycosides, used in folk medicine as heart tonics. Plant-derived cardiac glycosides can reduce blood pressure by removing salt (sodium) and water from the body. Therefore, star apples may help reduce the risk of heart problems and maintain cardiovascular health (3), (6).
6. May Reduce Inflammation
Star apples contain lupeol acetate, a bioactive compound that reduces inflammation. A study on rats showed that the fruit extract could reduce cell inflammation (7).
7. May Prevent Stomach Ulcers
Star apples contain bioactive antioxidants that may help prevent stomach ulcers. A rat study found that star apple juice and flour have gastroprotective properties(8).
8. May Have Anticancer Properties
A study found that polyphenols in star apple could inhibit the growth of cancerous cells (osteosarcoma) (9). Thus, star apple shows great promise as an anti-cancer agent. However, further studies are required to establish its potential for cancer treatment.
9. Promotes Skin Health
Star apple is rich in antioxidants like vitamin C and polyphenols, which help reduce free radical damage. An antioxidant-rich diet is crucial to reduce sun damage, wrinkles, and inflammation and maintain overall skin health (10).
10. Contributes To Bone Health
Although present in small amounts, these minerals are important for maintaining strong teeth and healthy bones. These minerals also assist in repairing and restoring bones (11).
Calcium absorption is assisted by vitamin C, an antioxidant that prevents oxidative damage to our bones. Vitamin C also promotes collagen formation, an important protein for maintaining bone structure (12).
Chef Jessica Randhawa says, “Star apples are full of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants, but I love them for their super sweet taste like a ripe persimmon crossed with a very ripe grape.” Below, we have shared tips and recipes for consuming this delectable fruit.
How To Add Star Apple To Your Diet: Popular Recipes
You can consume raw star apples. Cut around the fruit and twist to halve it (just like cutting avocados). Scoop the flesh and enjoy! You can also prepare sweet treats and desserts with star apples. Scroll down and get inspired by the star apple recipes below.
1. Star Apple Ice Cream
What You Need
- 1 cup star apple (deseeded and mashed)
- ¼ cup banana (mashed)
- 500 g heavy whipping cream
- 250 mL condensed milk
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated)
- Salt, as needed
How To Prepare
- Beat heavy cream in a bowl until soft peaks form (mixer works best).
- Add all ingredients and combine.
- Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and freeze for 6 hours or until solid. Enjoy!
2. Star Apple Smoothie
What You Need
- 1 banana (sliced)
- 1½ cups star apples
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup pineapple juice
- 1 tablespoon almonds (sliced)
- 1 teaspoon flax seeds
How To Prepare
Blend all ingredients until you get a smooth mixture. Enjoy!
Star apples perish fast due to their sugar and water content. You can follow these tips to store them properly and enjoy them for several days.
Tips To Store Star Apples
Star apples can be stored for a few days if preserved properly. You can store whole fruits in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Refrigerate chopped fruit in airtight plastic bags, and they will stay for a week. Chef Jessica adds, “Ripe star apple is best stored in a refrigerator, but unripened star apple should be left on the counter to ripen and then stored in the fridge once ripe.”
You can preserve star apples for a longer period by making jams and ice creams with them. While star apples have amazing health benefits, they might not be for everyone. Read on to find out why.
Side Effects Of Star Apples
The star apple peel contains natural latex, which is a potential allergen. If you are allergic to natural rubber latex, you may avoid the fruit. While star apple allergies are rare, eating them may trigger symptoms of the latex-fruit syndrome, which include runny nose, hives, itching, wheezing, and breathlessness. Although the data about the allergens that trigger the syndrome is unclear, seek medical advice if you experience the symptoms (3), (13).
Star apple’s benefits are numerous. These benefits can be attributed to its rich nutrients. You can include it in your regular diet as this fruit can combat the harmful action of free radicals and fight inflammation. It also protects the gut, cardiovascular, skin, and bone health and lowers blood pressure. In addition, this fruit prevents stomach ulcers and has anti-cancer properties. But if you have a natural latex allergy, you should avoid this fruit as its peel has latex in it. Having it in moderate amounts helps you reap its benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is star apple good for the kidney?
Possibly. Star apple is rich in antioxidants that may help reduce oxidative stress. Studies have shown that these antioxidants may help improve kidney function (14).
Is star apple good for acid reflux?
Possibly. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the calcium, potassium, and magnesium in star apples may help relieve acid reflux symptoms due to their ability to counteract excess stomach acid.
Can star apples cause constipation?
Possibly. Anecdotal evidence suggests that star apples, if consumed in excess, may cause constipation and other related gastrointestinal troubles.
Are star apples poisonous?
No. It is, however, advisable not to consume the star apple skin or seeds, as both are inedible.
- Star apples are tropical fruits native to the Caribbean with a purple, starburst-shaped core.
- The fruit is loaded with fiber, vitamins C, and polyphenols and is suitable for smoothies, ice cream, and fruit bowls.
- The rich nutritional composition of star apple provides gut health benefits and helps lower blood sugar levels.
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- Chrysophyllum cainito: A Tropical Fruit with Multiple Health Benefits
- Polyphenolic Antioxidants from the Fruits of Chrysophyllum cainito L. (Star Apple)
- Antimicrobial activities and chemical compositions of Chrysophyllum cainito (star apple) fruit
- Antioxidant and α-glucosidase Inhibitory Activities of Four Types of Chrysophyllum cainito L. Fruit
- In vitro ex vivo and in vivo anti-hypertensive activity of Chrysophyllum cainito L. extract
- Plant-derived cardiac glycosides: Role in heart ailments and cancer management
- Anti-inflammatory effects of Chrysophyllum cainito fruit extract in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated mouse peritoneal macrophages
- Chrysophyllum cainito (apple-star): a fruit with gastroprotective activity in experimental ulcer models
- Polyphenolic fraction of Chrysophyllum cainito extract induces cell death in osteosarcoma cells
- Systemic antioxidants and skin health
- Calcium Phosphorus and Human Bone Development
- Vitamin C and Bone Health: Evidence from Cell Animal and Human Studies
- The latex-fruit syndrome
- Modulatory effects of Chrysophyllum cainito L. extract on gamma radiation induced oxidative stress in rats