From time immemorial, certain fruits have been used and are still being used presently for treating certain diseases and for promoting the healthy functioning of our bodies. Interestingly, more medicinal and nutritious fruits are continuously gaining global attention these days primarily for health reasons and owing to the fact that most of them are easily accessible, highly suitable with our bodies and equally capable of boosting our immune systems. Again several studies have recommended the need to eat a healthy diet that contains at least 5-A-DAY (five portions of fruit and vegetables a day), especially those that are rich in natural antioxidants.
Moreover, increasing knowledge on the positive sides of these essential fruits are key to understanding how to use them effectively and efficiently for the proper functioning of our bodies. One of such fruits is the Averrhoa carambola, which is popularly known as starfruit, botanically known as Oxalidaceae and traditionally known as kamrakh. Just a little bit of background to what this fruit is all about; carambola (starfruit) is an oblong shaped fleshy fruit that is greenish in colour when immature but changes to orange or yellow colour when matured and ripe. Starfruit has a characteristic crispy and crunchy texture with a distinctive odor that is similar to an oxalic acid, which suggests where the botanical name is derived from.
Starfruit as the name suggests, is star shaped in appearance, which equally suggests why it is popularly known starfruit. It has a sour to slightly sweet taste with translucent flesh that is very juicy. Some types of starfruit may contain seeds while others have no seeds at all. The fruit is mainly cultivated in the Asian continent especially Vietnam, Bangladesh, Philippines, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Malaysia as well as the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean. Starfruit is oval in shape, characterised by five to eight conspicuous longitudinal ridges in between each sides and measures approximately 2 to 6 inches in length.
There are two major types of carambola namely; sweet starfruit and the small tart or sour ones. The sweet types have lesser oxalic acid unlike the sour types. Some sweet types include; demak, arkin, maha, dah pon and ma fueng while the sour types include; the thayer, the golden Star, star King and newcomb. This fruit is highly essential due to its edible, culinary, medicinal and therapeutic properties and below are some of the key reasons why this fruit is super duper important to us all.
18 Benefits of Averrhoa carambola (Starfruit)
1. Nutritional Values of Star Fruit
Starfruit is an excellent source of essential minerals and nutrients such as vitamin C, sodium, potassium, dietary fiber, magnesium, protein, gallic acid, epicatechin, L-ascorbic acid, oxalic acid, calcium, iron, lysine, phosphorus, riboflavin, methionine, carotene, tartaric acid, α-ketoglutaric acid, citric acid, thiamine, niacin and tryptophan.
2. Dermatological Purposes
Starfruit contains numerous essential minerals and nutrients thus highly recommended for tackling skin disease conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, pruritus, skin rashes and dry skin. Squeezed starfruit leaves or the shoots can be topically applied on the skin to treat ringworm and chickenpox. Starfruit bark can be prepared together with Alyxia sp. and sandalwood which is then topically applied on the skin for treating prickly heat.
3. Culinary Purposes
Ripe starfruit can be used for cooking assorted dishes such as stew, fish dishes, meat dishes, vegetable dishes, shrimp dishes, made into jams or pickled. Starfruit can be eaten fresh or dried. Unripe ones can also be used for preparing dips and sauces. It can also be used for preparing juice, sherbet, seasonings and drinks.
4. Treatment of Angina
Angina is a disease condition with a symptom of severe chest pain that often spreads to the arms, neck and shoulders due to the inadequate supply of blood to the heart. A decocted solution of starfruit leaves and shoots can be used for treating this challenging health condition.
5. Treatment of Stomatitis
Stomatitis is the disease condition caused as a result of the inflammation of the mucous membrane of the mouth. This can be treated using a decoction of boiled starfruit leaves.
6. Anti-tumour Properties
Clinical studies reveal that an alcoholic extract from the starfruit stems can fight against brain tumor cells while the leaves extract is also effective against liver carcinoma cells.
7. Emmenagogue Properties
Starfruit is emmenagogue in nature in the sense that it stimulates or increases menstrual flow. This factor can be triggered when women eat large quantities of this fruit. Moreover, the seeds can be crushed, decocted and taken as an emmenagogue.
8. Treatment of Spermatorrhea
Spermatorrhea is a male disease condition characterised by an involuntary and excessive ejaculation. Starfruit roots can be used for preparing herbal medicines for treating this disease condition.
9. Anti-oxidizing Properties
Carambola contains anti-oxidizing properties that act against reactive oxygen species.
10. Digestive Properties
Ripe starfruit possesses digestive properties thus very good for the digestive systems.
11. Appetite Stimulating Properties
Starfruit is an important natural appetite stimulant due to its stimulating properties.
12. Antimicrobial Properties of Starfruit
Clinical studies reveal that starfruit extracts have antimicrobial effects on Pseudomonas aeruginosa, E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella spp.
13. Increases Milk Production
Studies reveal that the starfruit is galactagogue in nature thus ideal for lactating mothers as it helps to increase milk production.
14. Anti-malarial Properties
Starfruit flowers can be boiled and used for treating malaria, malarial fever, malarial splenomegaly and vermifuge.
15. Acts as an Antidote
Starfruit roots can be crushed and mixed together with sugar and acts as an antidote for poison.
16. Ornamental Purposes
Starfruit trees and fruits are very colourful and brightly coloured in appearance thus very important for beautifying our environments.
17. Cleaning Purposes
The juice of sour acidic types of starfruit can be used for cleaning and getting rid of rusty surfaces and tarnished metals. The acidic juice can also be used as a caustic for dyeing.
18. Other Medicinal Uses of Starfruit
Starfruit leaves, fruits, stems and shoots can be used for preparing herbal medicines for treating individuals suffering from coughs, hemorrhoids, intermittent fever, worm infestations, mouth ulcer, headache, over-perspiration, vomiting, hangovers food poisoning, asthma, diabetes, oliguria, pyodermas, postpartum edema, boils, gastroenteritis, certain eye-related problems, hemorrhoids, throat inflammation, jaundice, indigestion, ulcer, gastritis, arthralgia, toothache, hiccups, colic, sunstroke. The fruit is also laxative, antidiarrheal, epitaxis, anti-pyretic, sialogogue, astringent, antiscorbutic and diuretic in nature.
Side Effects of Starfruit
Starfruit contains oxalic acid and caramboxin substances that can be harmful to people undergoing kidney dialysis, individuals suffering from kidney stones and kidney failure. These individuals are prone to have nausea, hiccups and vomiting if they consume starfruit. Starfruit can also interact with certain drugs thereby inhibiting the performance of such drugs such as statins, diazepam and benzodiazepines.
Having read this post, I encourage you to share your views about the starfruit in the comment section. Every opinion counts!!!
This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnostic and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
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