The fruit of the season is getting set to grace your taste buds, but there is one thing you fear; Risk. It’s certain that Agbalumo, African star apple is a seasonal fruit you should never buy with your shades on; and even with your eyes open, your discernment level for sweetness must be very sharp! But relax, there are more than enough reasons in the piece for you to consider eating at least two daily while it’s still in season.
Edible, chewable, fleshy body; Agbalumo ranges in colour from green (unripe) to yellow, then orange, bright orange or even burnt orange and hue red. This fruit is usually the centre of attraction when it’s in season; preparing the way for the arrival of cashews and mangoes. It is often called ‘African star apple’ because of how it is set in such a way that, when the fruit is cut in half, the seeds are clung together in a star formation.
Agbalumo, is the name given it in Yoruba, while Igbos name it Udara, and Hausas call it, Agwaluma. Just recently, I had told my friends that I wouldn’t buy the fruit until it rains like three times. But I broke my vow when I noticed a crowd selecting fresh Agbalumo fruits from the baskets of a fruit basket, and lo; I was tempted. Naturally, as a Yoruba woman, who visits markets often, seeing a large crowd buying this fruit simply meant the fruits were ripe and sweet. Oh, the taste of a ripe Agbalumo! Just like heavens! As a very inquisitive child, I had learnt that the sweetest of this fruit are either the ones that are allowed to fall off the trees themselves or are stung by bees. How do one even know that? Funnily enough, many of us believed these things and look out for signs whenever we are buying. Traditional perspectives, you could say.
On getting home that evening, alas, I was deceived! I had rejected the free fruit sample the woman offered me just because there was no water to wash it – I had trusted my instincts and eyes. But there are no two ways about this fruit; it’s either it is sweet or sour! Sometimes, the best-looking ones taste the worst, while the likely-trustable ones breed maggots. If you know Agbalumo and eat it well, you would know that it is not a fruit that is around for all seasons. Usually, you start seeing it around from December and till like March-April after which, some other fruits would have taken over.
According to the Nigeria Composition Table, 100g of African Star Apple, Agbalumo, contains 107kcal of energy and 74mg of Vitamin C. 100g of Agbalumo is just about two medium-sized Agbalumo. Now quickly, let’s take a walk down memory lane, remembering five things that could be done with chrysophyllum albidum, as Agbalumo is botanically called:
1. It’s flesh can be chewed till it turns to gum … hmmm; sweet memories of the good old days. With the soft skin of the seed and some fleshly back, you can perfectly make one small white, but strong gum.
2. Back in those days, the seeds could be gathered, washed and dried for arithmetic in class for little children just learning maths, to count figures.
3. Seeds could also be used for local games like Ayo or table soccer. Usually, Agbalumos contain three to five, or sometimes six inedible seeds that are fit for these games.4. The seeds are strung or threaded to make anklets for traditional ‘dancing’.5. Girls used the seeds for beautification, especially as earrings by cutting into halves, the inner whitish content of the seed.
Now, beyond the taste and games, let’s consider the nutritional benefits of this fruit to the human body:
1. Deficient in Ascorbic acid? African star apple is loaded with more Vitamin C than orange and guava, according to studies. This vitamin source is a good boost for your immune system. In fact, it’s been established that the vitamin content remains the same in both sweet and sour Agbalumo. The distinction is that the sweet ones are low in carbohydrates while the sour ones are high in carbohydrates.
2. Pregnant and afraid of throwing up at work? Sour Agbalumos have been said to help pregnant women resist the urgency to vomit when experiencing morning sickness. Meanwhile, the fruit has also be found out to improve blood flow to the placenta, which carries food from the mother to the baby.
3. Counting your calories? Agbalumo is a good snacking choice, as studies have shown that a serving of the fruit only contains 67 calories, which is considered good especially for people, who want to lose weight as they get fewer calories consuming it.
4. Having stomach troubles? It’s been said that eating some Agbalumo aids digestion, as it contains some anti-diarrheal and anti-hemorrhiodal (pile) qualities.
5. Finally, if you’re struggling with tooth ache or menstrual cramps, Agbalumo has been proven to be a reliable supply of calcium, giving 10% of what the body requires. Calcium strengthens bones and teeth and may also alleviate premenstrual syndrome symptoms, according to findings.