To say the cherimoya fruit is one of the most delicious fruits known to mankind could be an understatement. As documented by food and fruit bloggers its creamy taste, the fact that it can be chilled and eaten with a spoon and its variety of flavors ranging from papaya, mango, banana to apple has overtime earned it the nickname ‘the ice cream fruit’. In addition to the delicious taste, it is packed with numerous health benefits that range from improving heart health, improving skin health, being used as medicine to fighting cancer.
History of Cherimoya
The name cherimoya originates from the Quechua word chirimuya which mean ‘cold seeds’. The term cold seeds come from the fact that the cherimoya plant grows at high altitudes. The fruit is of the genus Annona from the family Annonaceae and it is native to Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and Bolivia.
17 Health Benefits of Cherimoya
Rich in fiber
The cherimoya fruit is a rich source of soluble dietary fiber whereby an average sized cherimoya fruit gives about 5g of the recommended dietary allowance of fiber. Fiber is vital in the body as it adds bulk to food preventing constipation, lowers blood sugar levels aiding in preventing diabetes and it lowers absorption of cholesterol in the gut. Fiber also protects the mucosal lining of the colon from exposure to toxic substances by binding cancer causing chemicals to it as well as eliminating yeast and fungus out of our bodies preventing them from being excreted through the skin causing acne or rashes improving skin health.
Improves brain health
The cherimoya fruit is a rich source of vitamin B-6 otherwise called (pyridoxine). This particular vitamin protects against Parkinson’s disease and also controls the Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurochemical levels in the brain. High levels of GABA calm down tension, nerve irritability, depression and headache ailments. Pyridoxine also boosts metabolism and immunity.
Improved heart health
The cherimoya fruit is rich in compounds that lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise the good cholesterol (HDL), and this improves the blood flow in the heart, therefore, reducing chances of a heart attack, stroke, and hypertension. The fiber in the fruit also reduces absorption of cholesterol in the gut meaning there will be less fat deposition on the blood vessels hence consequently improving heart health.
The cherimoya fruit is beneficial in fighting against cancer as it has potent antioxidants in its flesh, peel and juices like bullatacin which have anti-cancer properties. They work by neutralizing effects of free radicals produced by oxidative stress. The stems and leaves of the cherimoya plant contain acetogenic, which helps in the treatment of cancer by interfering with the action of enzymes hence slowing down the development of cancer.
The cherimoya fruit is rich in vitamins in particular vitamin c. Vitamins are vital as they boost immunity. They act as natural antioxidants that help the body develop resistance against infectious disease causing agents. Vitamin C also helps eliminate free radicals from the body and this is a protective mechanism against diseases like common cold.
Calcium is a vital mineral required for bone heath.The cherimoya fruit is an important tool in fighting osteoporosis as it is rich in calcium. Osteoporosis is a medical condition that makes bones brittle and fragile from loss of tissue usually due to a deficiency of calcium or vitamin D. Vitamin D and calcium go hand in hand as vitamin D is needed in our bodies for maximum absorption of calcium.
Rich source of minerals
The cherimoya fruit is a rich source of minerals needed by the body for example magnesium which is vital for making protein muscle and general immune system health, zinc which is vital in making genetic material, normal fetal development and production of sperms and manganese which is an integral part of many enzymes that facilitate chemical and biological processes in the body. It, however, has low amounts of sodium and lacks cholesterol hence could be an effective tool for weight management.
Used as medicine
Due to the cherimoya fruit being rich in antioxidants, vitamins and other useful nutrients, over the years it has proven to be useful for curing ailments such as anemia, hypertension, and gastrointestinal problems and also reduces the effects of diabetes efficiently. This has worked effectively for patients who have used the fruit as a natural cure for the specific ailments as it has little to no side effects.
Most hair products are quite expensive hence for the individuals who have lice, the unripe cherimoya fruit can be dried and powdered and the powder mixed with grease. The mixture is then applied onto the hair. This will get rid of the lice menace. The powdered mixture has also been said to cure parasitic skin infections.
Rich source of antioxidants
The cherimoya fruit is rich in powerful antioxidants majorly found in the flesh, peel and juice of the fruit. These polyphenol antioxidants have anti-cancer properties as they work by limiting the damage to the cells by the harmful free radicals. The antioxidants also have anti-malarial properties and this aid in curbing the spread and effects of malaria on the body.
Prevents graying of hair
The cherimoya fruit has an abundant amount of copper which is a mineral responsible for maintaining hair color. The copper also prevents premature hair graying.
Prevents early aging
Consuming the cherimoya fruit on a regular basis will go a long way in reducing the signs of early aging for example wrinkles and various blemishes. With the presence of antioxidants, the fruit helps reverse pigmentation that is caused by the free radicals hence promoting general skin health.
Maintains good skin health
Vitamin C in cherimoya fruit plays a role in the formation of collagen which is a protein that provides elasticity to the skin. This helps maintain the integrity of the skin. The collagen is also important as it forms a large part of the scalp and hair.
Regimen for weight loss
The cherimoya fruit is recommended for weight loss as it has a low-fat content and the high potassium content helps to avoid liquid retention.
Anti – inflammatory properties
The cherimoya fruit has a high content of vitamin C which protects the body from damage by the inflammatory harmful free radicals.
Promotes hair growth
The cherimoya fruit is rich in numerous hair friendly nutrients like iron, zinc and vitamin C. all of these nutrients in one way or another contribute to long healthy and strong hair. The nutrients also ensure minimal breakage of hair and also minimal hair loss. Cherimoya seed oil also hydrates the scalp making hair shiny and lustrous.
Protection to cells
The extracts from the cherimoya fruit enhance the survival of cells in the system. This is done by decreasing release of lactate dehydrogenase from the body. When the levels of lactate dehydrogenase or LDH are high, they indicate that the cell has been damaged by disease or an injury, therefore their levels should be kept at a minimum.
Side Effects of cherimoya fruit
Atypical Parkinson’s disease
Studies have shown that cherimoyas contain a toxic chemical called annonacin which can result in occurrence of severe neurological damage and ‘atypical Parkinson’s’ disease.
Consuming the cherimoya fruit skin and the bark if injected into the body can lead to paralysis for 4 to 5 hours.
Cherimoya seeds have harmful components (toxic alkaloids) that make them proper candidates for use in manufacturing insecticides. They are therefore considered non-edible.
Consuming some parts of the cherimoya fruit can lead to allergic reactions for example itching, skin rashes and swelling of the face.
Contraindicated during pregnancy
Consuming cherimoya fruit has been deemed unsafe during pregnancy.
Fun Facts about Cherimoya
- The term cherimoya comes from the Quechua word ‘chirimuya’ which means cold seeds because the seeds grow in high attitudes.
- The cherimoya tree is evergreen and fast growing and it can grow very tall and can reach up to 30feet or more.
- Pollination on the cherimoya is by hand and it takes close to 6 to 8 hours. This is done because the male and female flowers mature at different times and few insects visit to carry on with the pollination process.
- The cherimoya fruit has various names in different parts of the globe. South Americans call it Chirimoya, Brazilians call it Graviolla, people from Belize call it Tukib while people from the pacific call it the Ice Cream Fruit.
- When cross breeding occurs between the cherimoya plant and the sugar apple, a new and distinct species called ‘atemoya’ is produced.
- Unlike other fruits, the best way to eat the fruit is by scooping the flesh with a spoon like ice cream in a bowl.
Nutritional value per 100g
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