By: Nutrition Expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.
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An ‘Oxalidaceae family’ member- Averrhoa carambola, well known as Star fruit, is an age old plant. Star fruit, is a star shaped tropical fruit with sweet and sour flavour. The Star fruit is about 2 to 6 inches in length. Major two distinct classes of Carambola, the Smaller with sour taste and the Larger with sweet taste.
The word Carambola comes from the Sanskrit word Karmaranga meaning “food appetizer”. Carambola as ripe used as a source of food, eaten out-of-hand, sliced and served in salads, or used as garnish on avocado or seafood. Carambola has many medicinal uses and also contains secondary metabolites which have various biological activities. In addition, the wood of Star fruit is used for construction and furniture.
It is believed to have originated in Ceylon and the Moluccas, but it has been cultivated in Southeast Asia and Malaysia for hundreds of years. It is commonly found in warmer parts of India, primarily in the southern states and along the west coast, extending from Kerala up to West Bengal.
Nutritional Value and General Health Benefits:
- Star fruit contains only 30 calories per fruit plus lots of fibre, it helps to lose weight.
- Flowers of the sweet star fruit are good for treating cough.
- Star fruit is a good source of vitamin B9 (folic acid), which help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Star fruit contain B-complex vitamin, which is essential for hair growth and help in keeping hair strong and healthy.
- Star fruit purifies the blood, helps in getting a glowing skin.
- Traditionally Star fruit is used as home remedy for hangovers and sunburns.
- Star fruit also helps to cure cough, fever, ulcers and sore throats.
- The leaves of star fruit can be used to treat stomach ulcers and also improves digestion.
- In India, the ripe fruit is administered to halt haemorrhages and to relieve bleeding haemorrhoids; and the dried fruit or the juice may be taken to counteract fevers.
- It has multifaceted medicinal properties like anti-inflammatory, analgesic, hypotensive, anthelmintic, antioxidant, anti-ulcer, Hypocholesterolaemic and hypolipidemic, antimicrobial and also show the anti-tumor activity.
- When the fruit is cut crosswise, it forms a perfect star.
- Star fruits do not need to be peeled or seeded – they can be eaten whole.
- Two varieties of star fruit are grown – tart and sweet.
- Early English travelers called the star fruit the “cucumber tree” when discovering the plant in Asia.
- Sheth A, K Ashok. The Herbs of Ayurveda, uses of carambola, Sheth publisher, 2005; (1):140.
- Chung KS, Paul PH, Kimura T. International collection of traditional and folk medicine. Northeast Asia. 1998, 75.
- Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research, Kualalampur. Compendium of Medicinal Plants used in Malaysia. 2002; (1):92.