For the lovers of new tropical fruits, cherimoya is an exotic and nutrient-dense option. It has great health benefits, which include its anti-aging properties, its ability to prevent cancer, maintain the blood pressure and many more. However, before adding any new type of fruit to your diet, it is best to understand where it comes from, what nutrients it contains, and the potential health benefits it can have.
What is Cherimoya?
Cherimoya is the name of the edible fruit borne of a tree with the same name. Scientifically known as Annona cherimola, this shrub or tree, which can grow up to 10 meters in height, is native to South America, specifically Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru. Although it has been naturalized in a number of other areas in the world, it is primarily found in tropical regions. The fruit of this tree, for which the plant is cultivated, is green when ripe and appears to be covered in overlapping scales. It is typically heart-shaped or round, and tends to be no larger than a grapefruit. The largest specimens may be up to 5-6 pounds, but this is quite rare.
The flesh of this fruit is creamy and white and has a unique blend of flavors that is compared to bananas, mangos, and pineapples. The consistency of cherimoya fruit is also quite unique and can be easily scooped out with a spoon when ripe. There are also quite a few black or brown seeds in the flesh of the fruit that should be avoided and spit out. Biting them open can release certain toxins that can be very dangerous. Earning its nickname as the “custard apple”, this delectable fruit is loved throughout South America and Central America and has been exported in larger numbers to non-tropical regions in recent years. Not only they are relatively easy to cultivate, but these fruits are also packed with nutrients and organic compounds that make it an excellent dietary addition.
Nutrition Facts of Cherimoya
Cherimoya has an impressive nutrient profile, including high levels of vitamin C and B vitamins, as well as copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and dietary fiber. There are a relatively low number of calories, at only 75 calories per 100-gram serving, as well as low levels of fat. Finally, there are also a number of polyphenolic antioxidants found in this fruit that have a powerful effect on your overall health.
Health Benefits of Cherimoya
Some of the most notable health benefits of cherimoya include its ability to improve the skin quality, strengthen the immune system, lower blood pressure, support bone health and stimulate cognition, among others.
With a high level of vitamin C, this fruit is ideal for helping the body produce more vitamin C, which is a critical element of collagen production. Collagen is required for the creation of every tissue, cell and muscle fiber in the body, including the skin. It can also stimulate the immune system to handle any skin irritation caused by infection or chronic diseases.
Has Anti-aging Properties
When it comes to the antioxidants present in cherimoya, they have been linked to reducing the concentration of free radicals in the body. This can reduce oxidative stress in the skin and other organ systems. Ultimately, you will see a reduction in the appearance of wrinkles, age spots, and other blemishes, helping you look younger for longer.
Lowers Blood Pressure
With a notable level of potassium in cherimoya, this fruit can help to naturally lower your blood pressure. Potassium is a vasodilator, meaning that it relaxes tension in the blood vessels and arteries, which reduces strain on the cardiovascular system.
Improves Bone Health
With a diverse range of minerals, cherimoya has been linked to improving the bone mineral density, particularly with its high level of copper, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. This can help delay the onset of osteoporosis and other age-related diseases.
Boosts Immune System
There are quite a few antioxidants found in cherimoya, in addition to vitamin C, which can stimulate the production of white blood cells in the body. This can function as the first line of defense for the body and can help to prevent both acute and chronic disease.
Vitamin B6 is closely linked to cognitive function, particularly in the prevention of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. With a significant concentration of vitamin B6 in cherimoya, this fruit has long been known as a brain booster.
Rich in fiber and antioxidants, cherimoya can help to prevent colon and liver cancer, as well as the spread of other cancerous growths and tumors.
Improves Heart Health
The healthy level of dietary fiber in cherimoya helps the body absorb less cholesterol from the food you consume, thus lowering your chances of atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke and coronary heart disease.
How to Eat Cherimoya?
The best way to eat cherimoya is raw, although it is commonly mixed in with ice creams and other sweet treats. Beginning with a ripe cherimoya, you can slice the fruit in half, revealing the milky flesh in the center, as well as the seeds embedded in it. You will notice that pieces of the flesh will easily break off. You can then spoon out chunks of the fruit with a spoon, similar to eating an avocado. The seeds should be easy to separate, either with the spoon or you can gulp the fruit around the seeds and then spit them out. Do not swallow these seeds, as they are poisonous.
If you don’t want to scoop out and eat the fruit raw, it is also a wonderful addition to fruit smoothies and salads.
Side Effects of Cherimoya
Despite the many health benefits of cherimoya, there are some potential health risks you should be aware of, including complications with pregnancy, allergic reactions, and possible toxicity. Provided you consume the right parts of the fruit in moderation, you should be able to avoid these side effects.
Toxicity – Some elements of cherimoya fruit do have toxic properties, such as the skin of the fruit and the seeds. Do not consume the skin or the seeds for any reason, due to the presence of toxic alkaloids. In severe cases, consumption can even cause paralysis.
Allergic Reactions – Some people experience allergic reactions to cherimoya, particularly in the form of skin rashes or irritation. If you experience this side effect or any swelling or inflammation in the mouth or throat, discontinue eating the fruit immediately.
Pregnancy – Some research has pointed to potential complications for pregnant women who eat this fruit, due to its stimulant nature. So consult a doctor before adding this exotic fruit to your pregnancy diet.