7 Wonderful Benefits of Ackee Fruit

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

The most important health benefits of ackee fruit may include its ability to lower blood pressure, boost energy levels, support healing, and growth, aid in digestion, lower cholesterol, build strong bones, improve the immune system, and increase circulation.

What is Ackee Fruit?

Ackee is a colorful and delicious fruit that is a popular addition to many exotic dishes and has become a mainstay in Caribbean cuisine, both for its flavor and its beneficial properties. Scientifically known as Blighia sapida [1]this fruit is actually native to many of the nations of West Africa, not Jamaica, but it was likely exported there on a slave ship in the 18th century, where it became internationally known.

The tree on which ackee grows is an evergreen, and the fruit itself resembles a pear. It is green in its unripened state, but it gradually turns to a yellow, orange, and then reddish fruit that is very recognizable. The fruit eventually splits to reveal three large black seeds surrounded by spongy flesh called the aril, which is the edible part of the fruit.

Most famously, ackee is the complementary part of saltfish and ackee, the national dish of Jamaica, and is beloved in almost every shop and street of that Caribbean island. More important than its flavor and availability, this fruit is packed with vitamins, nutrients, and organic components that make it a useful dietary tool for a number of health conditions.

Close-up of Jamaican ackees with their pods on a wooden table

Jamaican ackees are a delicious fruit that’s a popular addition to many exotic dishes. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Health Benefits of Ackee Fruit

Now, let’s take a closer look at the many health benefits of ackee.

May Aid in Digestion

The possibly rich fiber content of ackee makes it an ideal digestive aid, given that dietary fiber helps bulk up the stool, as well as eliminate constipation, by inducing peristaltic motion in the gut. This may help move food along, preventing bloating, cramping, constipation, and even inflammation of the colon. Dietary fiber can also help lower cholesterol and boost heart health! [2]

May Lower Blood Pressure

The possibly high potassium content of ackee acts as a vasodilator, reducing the strain on your cardiovascular system, thereby lowering your chances of hypertension and atherosclerosis. [3]

May Improve Heart Health

Ackee boasts an impressive range of beneficial fatty acids, including stearic, linoleic, and palmitic acids. Those particular acids are unsaturated fats, which is the type of fat that you want to improve your heart health and lower dangerous cholesterol levels. Probably by eliminating the most unhealthy saturated fats from your diet, you protect yourself against atherosclerosis. [4]

May Boost Protein Power

One of the key ingredients in a healthy diet is protein, and getting it from a delicious fruit like ackee is even smarter! Protein is essentially the building block of cells, muscle tissue, and other important aspects of our body that needs to be continually replenished. Ackee isn’t always praised for its high protein content, but it may be possibly high for a fruit. [5]

May Increase Bone Strength

There are a number of essential minerals found in ackee, including calcium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc, all of which may contribute to healthier bones and help prevent bone loss and demineralization. Having a consistently high intake of minerals may slow, stop, or reverse the effects of osteoporosis as we age, leaving us stronger for longer! [6]

May Boost Immunity

One of the most common vitamins found in fruits and vegetables is vitamin C, and ackee is no exception. With a rich ascorbic acid content, ackee may help boost our immune system by promoting the development of white blood cells and contributing some of its antioxidant powers to preventing chronic diseases and cellular mutation. Furthermore, vitamin C is an integral part of collagen, which is required by the body to make muscles, blood vessels, and tissues. [7]

May Regulate Circulation

If you suffer from anemia, it means you may have a lack of iron in your diet. Ackee’s iron content may solve that problem perfectly, perhaps ensuring that you avoid the side effects of anemia such as weakness, cognitive disorders, lightheadedness, and digestive distress. Iron is a key component of hemoglobin, which is necessary to produce RBC (red blood cells). [8]

Word of Caution: Despite the many benefits of this fruit, it is highly toxic when eaten before it ripens. Never consume an ackee fruit until it opens naturally; that is when you know it is safe. Prior to that, it can cause “Jamaican vomiting sickness”, and in the most extreme cases, coma and death. In other words, be careful where you get your ackee for that saltfish dish! [9]

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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