Discover the “star” power of star fruit – how this emerging superfruit boosts health in 3 different ways
With a texture that manages to be both crunchy and juicy and a refreshing taste that ranges from mildly sour to pleasantly sweet, star fruit has a lot to offer - including health benefits. Once little known in the United States, the Southeast Asian delicacy known as star fruit is steadily growing more popular.
Botanically known as Averrhoa carambola and sometimes called cane apple, star fruit has been used in herbal medicine for millennia to treat ailments such as fevers, sore throat, asthma, and headaches. Let's explore some of the properties that make star fruit such a beneficial addition to the diet.
Star fruit may help protect the liver
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) currently affects an astonishing one-quarter of all American adults. Characterized by fat deposits in the liver, NAFLD is triggered by a combination of sedentary lifestyle and excessive caloric intake - and can have severe consequences if untreated. Early research shows that star fruit, which appears to have a "fat-reducing" effect, may help protect against NAFLD.
In one study, published in 2019 in Biomedicines, a star fruit extract prevented the accumulation of liver fat in rats fed a high-fat diet. It also reduced levels of lipids in the blood, decreased body mass index, and even reversed damage to liver tissue in rats with fatty liver disease. While this study was conducted on animals, many researchers believe that star fruit's beneficial "fat-burning" and liver-protective effects can extend to humans.
Support a healthy heart and calm mood with star fruit
Star fruit is an extremely heart-healthy food packed with antioxidants - including epicatechin, gallic acid, apigenin, and anthocyanidins. Its impressive cargo of potent antioxidants can help reduce the oxidative stress generated by harmful free radicals, increasing levels of other antioxidants already being produced by the body, such as glutathione and superoxide dismutase. There is even evidence that star fruit extracts may work against hyperlipidemia (or high total cholesterol), a primary factor in atherosclerosis and heart disease.
In addition, star fruit contains healthy amounts of the essential minerals calcium and potassium, which relax blood vessels and help to lower blood pressure. And, with a substantial 3 grams of fiber, one star fruit - at a mere 28 calories - is a satisfying snack that may help promote healthy weight. Finally, star fruit has anti-inflammatory qualities that may help combat the chronic inflammation at the root of many degenerative diseases, including heart disease.
So, it appears that eating star fruit can help support a happy heart. (Incidentally, apigenin - a beneficial compound also found in parsley and celery - in star fruit may even have mild sedative and calming effects!)
Promote healthy, hydrated skin with star fruit
The antioxidants in star fruit benefit far more than just the cardiovascular system. They also help to neutralize free radicals (resulting from exposure to ultraviolet light, environmental toxins, and smoke) before they can damage the skin.
In addition, star fruit contains almost a third of the recommended dietary amount of vitamin C, which is vital to collagen production. Some natural beauty experts believe that this protein, which is essential for supple, flexible, healthy skin, may help prevent or minimize the appearance of wrinkles. Finally, star fruit - composed of 91 percent water - can help achieve the hydration needed for healthy skin.
Star fruit adds piquant flavor and decorative appeal to dishes
When thoroughly ripe, star fruit is bright yellow or amber, with only limited patches of green. To prepare, simply rinse, cut into thin slices, discard the dark seeds at the center and enjoy.
When sliced, star fruit yields a visually appealing star shape that can be used as a whimsical garnish. But, of course, you can also enjoy sliced star fruit in salads and yogurt. Or, juice it or blend it into a smoothie - where it partners perfectly with the flavors of apples, mangoes, pineapples, citrus fruits, and ginger.
Star fruit can also be made into tasty syrups, jellies, and jams or used in stews, marinades, and curries to add an unexpected sweetness and tang. By the way, the citrusy taste of star fruit makes it particularly pleasing in seafood and shellfish recipes.
Important: Don't eat star fruit if you have kidney failure, chronic kidney disease, or susceptibility to kidney stones. With up to 95,800 ppm (parts per million) of oxalic acid in a 100-gram serving, star fruit could cause serious adverse health effects. Star fruit can also interact with prescription medications, so consult with your integrative doctor before eating star fruit if you take them.
Full of nutrients, low in calories, high in fiber, and packed with antioxidants, star fruit can be a fantastic addition to your healthy diet. Next time you crave a refreshing snack, why not "reach for the stars?"
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