“the most delicious fruit known to men.”
Who doesn’t love the sweet white creamy texture of a custard apple? This sugar-rich fruit not only tastes great but is also rich in several minerals and vitamins and is also loaded with antioxidants like vitamin C. Also referred as ‘Cherimoya’, custard apple is a native to South America, West Indies and some Asian regions. This delectable fruit can be consumed by people who are allergic to dairy products as it offers more or less similar nutritional value. So, enjoy this creamy luscious fruit as it is or as part of desserts, ice-creams and smoothies.
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Interesting Facts About Custard Apple
- California is the largest custard apple producer in the United States
- The aromatic flowers of custard apple are used as a snuff in Jamaica
- The juice of an unripe custard apple is applied to cure infected insect bites in the Philippines
- The unripe fruit, roots as well as leaves can serve as insecticide and vermicide
- The powdered seeds are used as fish poison and an insecticide in India
- Pinks Mammoth, African Pride, Late Gold, Geffner and Hilary White are some varieties of custard apple.
Health Benefits & Uses of Custard Apple
1. Acts as an Anti-cancer agent
Custard apple contains Acetogenin and alkaloids that help in mitigating the risk of cancer and renal failure. Similarly, Asimicin and Bullatacin have been discovered to have anti-cancer and anti-helminths properties that fight the free radical effect therein preventing cancer. The abundant fibre contained in the fruit prevents toxic build up in the colon and shields the colon membrane besides also offering breast cancer protection.
A team of researchers led by Professor Jerry McLaughlin at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana have assessed the structure and anti-cancer efficacies of Acetogenins throughout the 1990s.
2. Supports Heart Health
The optimum ratio of sodium and potassium helps to regulate blood pressure anomalies in the body. The abundant amounts of magnesium in the fruit protect the heart from the possibility of a stroke.
Hole and others conducted a 2006 study which looked at the effects of Annona reticulata L. on heart disease in rats. The study concluded that chronic oral administration of Annona reticulata L. fruits100 and 200 mg/kg barred isoproterenol induced changes in lipid profile, marker enzyme activity as well as cellular degeneration where the outcomes were similar to captopril (a drug for heart failure treatment)
3. Lowers Bad Cholesterol
Custard apple has Niacin and fibre that reduces bad cholesterol while increasing the good cholesterol in the body. It also averts cholesterol absorption in the gut. The anti-oxidants contained in a custard apple prevent the disease-causing free radicals from damaging lipid thus enhancing heart health.
In a study (Gupta et al., 2005a), the pulp of sugar apple lowered total cholesterol level by 46% in normal rabbits and 32.4% in diabetic rabbits with enhanced HDL-cholesterol levels.
4. Promotes Good Eyesight
The riboflavin and vitamin C contained in a custard apple help in fighting against free radicals which can damage cells. This action might also promote good eyesight.
A paper “Sitaphal unexplored therapeutic potential” which was published in Asian Journal of Research in Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences 2015; 3(4): 129- 141. by Kaur R, Kaur K, Kaur P and Singh I discusses that custard apple is brilliant for the development of eyes of foetus during pregnancy.
5. Fights Fatigue
Custard apple is a rich source of energy and helps to counter exhaustion and weakness. The potassium content of custard apple also deals with muscle weakness.
A review article by Dr. Amit Kumar Dutta titled “Different Amazing Benefits and Uses of Custard Apples from the Tribal Area of Chhattisgarh” that appeared in European Journal of Biomedical And Pharmaceutical Sciences claims that the fruit helps in fighting tiredness and removes muscle weakness.
6. Promotes Brain Health
The B-complex vitamins of the custard apple regulate brain’s GABA neuron chemical levels. This helps to relieve mental disturbances like stress, irritability and depression and even Parkinson’s disease.
A review article by Dr. Amit Kumar Dutta titled “Different Amazing Benefits and Uses of Custard Apples from the Tribal Area of Chhattisgarh” that appeared in European Journal of Biomedical And Pharmaceutical Sciences supports the above claim.
7. Prevents Arthritis
The high magnesium content of custard apple regulates the water balance in the body and removes the accumulated acid from joints therein reducing the symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism. Also, the calcium content is significant in maintaining bone health.
The analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity of custard apple is comparable to pethidine sulphate and indomethacin. This was claimed in a paper titled “Pharmacological screening of combined extract of Annona squamosa and Nigella sativa” by S. Singh that appeared in. International Journal of Pharma and Bio Sciences 2,2, april/june 2011.
8. Counters Anemia
Custard apple fights anemia which can be attributed to its expectorant, catalyst and haematinic properties.
The haematinic action of custard apple has been mentioned in a research article titled Determination of Bioactive Components of Annona squamosa L Leaf by GC-MS Analysis that appeared in International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Drug Research 2011; 3 (4): 309-312.
9. Delays Signs of Aging
Custard apple consumption on a daily basis thickens and kindles the collagen to reduce wrinkles and fine lines. It enhances collagen accumulation and reduces the pace of its breakdown therein improving skin’s elasticity. The process of regeneration is hastened by the anti-oxidants of custard apple. These anti-oxidants delay the appearance of age spots and blemishes as well as protect the skin from harmful UV rays.
10. Enhances the Functioning of Digestive System
Custard apple removes toxins from the intestine and promote regulation of bowel movements. Digestive issues like heartburn, ulcer, acidity and gastritis can be effectively prevented by consumption of custard apple.
A paper “Sitaphal unexplored therapeutic potential” which was published in Asian Journal of the Research in Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences 2015; 3(4): 129- 141. by Kaur R, Kaur K, Kaur P and Singh I discusses that custard apple’s fibre amount adds bulk to faeces therein relieving constipation.
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Nutritional Value of Custard Apple
The table below gives the in -depth nutrient value per 100 g of Custard apple (Annona reticulata)
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.60 g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber||2.4 g||6%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.135 mg||2.5%|
|Vitamin A||33 IU||1%|
|Vitamin C||19.2 mg||32%|
Source: USDA National Nutrient data base
Risks While Consuming Custard Apple
- Toxic alkaloids are present in custard apple seeds and leaf parts and hence should not be eaten
- Chewing seeds of custard apple can release toxins
- Custard apple is considered a cold fruit by nature and should not be consumed in more than adequate amounts as one can fall ill.
- Do not consume seeds of custard apple as they are poisonous
- Diabetic patients are advised not to consume this fruit in more quantities as they are abundant in sugar.
How to Consume Custard Apple?
Tips While Purchasing Custard Apple
Press a custard apple gently with your hands. The fruit should feel firm but not hard as a hard surface means that the fruit is unripe. Do not buy soft and spongy custard apples as they are overripe. Avoid purchasing smaller fruits as they are immature.
The fruit should be brownish green or brown in colour.
Ways to Enjoy Custard Apple
1. As A fruit on its Own
You can enjoy the fruit by consuming the creamy white flesh using a spoon. Spit out the seeds while consuming the fruit. Mash the flesh and remove the seeds while feeding the fruit to kids.
2. In Smoothies
Remove the seeds of the custard apple. Mix the flesh with un-seeded dates. Add honey and mix again with low fat milk to come up with a sumptuous smoothie.
Enjoy creamy and grainy custard apple milkshake by blending custard apple with vanilla ice-cream and milk in a blender.
4. Custard Apple Ice-cream
Combine milk, milk powder, fresh cream, powdered sugar, vanilla essence till the sugar dissolves. Add the custard apple pulp and mix well. Pour the mixture in a shallow container and semi-set it by covering and freezing it. Churn the semi-set mixture in a blender till you get smooth and creamy ice-cream. Transfer into the container again and freeze till firmly set. Take out scoops and serve.
Fun Facts About Custard Apple
- There is a variety of custard apple which is a hybrid of custard apple and pineapple. Its outer cover is smoother and contiguous and the flesh is more succulent having a pineapple flavour.
- Fino de Jete is a type of custard apple that has been awarded the European PDO status
- Michelin starred celebrity chef Dani Garcia is a custard apple fan. According to him, custard apple’s unique characteristic and touch of sourness make it ideal for use in a number of recipes
- Custard apples were often depicted in the ceramic arts of Peru
- Many Mexican people have known the efficacy of custard apples in treating conditions like depression, stress and melancholy and have applied it in their homes since ancient times.
The sweet creamy custard apple not only tastes like nectar but also has numerous health benefits. It is loaded with many vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and Phyto-nutrients which aid in resolving and balancing many bodily ailments. Enjoy the divine taste of this fruit in many delectable forms sans its poisonous seeds!