The health benefits of wood apple include relief from constipation, indigestion, peptic ulcer, piles, respiratory problems, diarrhea, and dysentery. It also boosts the immune system, fights off bacterial and viral infections, reduces inflammatory conditions, prevents cancer, increases milk production for nursing mothers, cures diabetes, improves ocular health, and helps prevent sexual dysfunctions.
What is Wood Apple?
The wood apple is an herb with the botanical name Limonia acidissima. It has other names like elephant apple, and monkey fruit. In some parts of the world, this fruit is called elephant apple because it is a favorite food of elephants, while in other areas, it gets the name wood apple because of its hard wooden shell. It is considered sacred by Hindus and is widely cultivated and eaten in India.
The wood apple tree is native to India but is also found in Sri Lanka, Thailand, and other regions in the southern part of Asia. The tree can grow up to 30 feet in height and the edible fruits are 5-9cm in diameter. Their shells are tough, and the inside consists of a brownish pulp and small white seeds. The pulp can be eaten raw, but it is popularly scooped out and frozen or made into jam. It can also be mixed with coconut milk for a delicious, healthy beverage or frozen into an ice cream.
Nutritional Value of Wood Apples
Health Benefits of Wood Apples
This fruit has great medicinal value for those who consume it. Let’s take a closer look at the extensive health benefits of this interesting fruit.
Aid in Digestion
Wood apple is great for digestion because it helps destroy worms in the intestine and is a good remedy for digestive disorders. It is also recommended as a remedy for chronic dysentery. The trunk and branches of wood apple trees contain a gum-like substance called ‘Feronia gum’. It is commonly used in curing diarrhea and dysentery. Wood apple fruit is also recommended for people with peptic ulcer or piles since wood apple tree leaves contain tannin, which is known to reduce inflammation. The laxative property of wood apple also helps to avoid constipation and the subsequent, pain, discomfort and associated health risks of that condition. These, combined with the antifungal and antiparasitic activities, make this fruit ideal for enhancing the digestive health.
Purify the Blood
As little as 50 mg of wood apple fruit juice mixed with warm water and sugar is recommended for blood purification and removal of toxins that cause extensive damage to the body. This reduces the strain on the liver and kidneys, which are the normal lines of defense against toxins.
Effective for Ear Aches
The root of the wood apple tree is integral to the management and treatment of ear conditions and pain.
Deficiency of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) causes scurvy, a potentially life-threatening condition. Since this fruit is rich in vitamin C, it can prevent the development of scurvy. This high level of vitamin C also increases the strength and potency of the immune system, thereby protecting people who consume wood apples from a variety of microbial and viral infections.
The ‘Feronia gum’, in the trunk and branches of the wood apple tree, counteracts diabetes by reducing the severity of the condition. It also helps in managing the flow, secretion, and balance of sugars in the bloodstream. By managing the insulin and glucose levels, it prevents the spikes and plunges that can be dangerous to diabetics.
Relieve Respiratory Problems
Leaves of the wood apple tree help people avoid chronic or recurring colds and related respiratory conditions. They also help in curing sore throat and treating cough. The leaves help in loosening phlegm and eliminating the build up in the respiratory system.
One hundred grams of wood apple pulp provides 140 calories, and the nutrients boost the organ activity and metabolic speed. The high protein content also means that your body can heal faster and the muscles can grow stronger, further boosting the energy.
Good for Kidney
Regular consumption of wood apple is recommended for people with kidney disorders. Considering the detoxifying powers of wood apples, the kidney can be protected from many diseases.
Protect Liver Health
As a good source of beta-carotene, wood apples cure liver problems. They contain thiamine and riboflavin, both of which are known as liver health boosters. This fruit also functions as an ingredient in cardiac tonics.
In Ayurvedic treatments, all parts of the wood apple plant are used to cure snakebites.
Protect Against Malaria
The pulp of wood apple fruits has also been used as a cosmetic component by women in the Thai-Myanmar border region. This area is frequently affected by dengue and malaria, and studies have suggested that applying the mixture of this pulp and repellents on the skin of pregnant women may be beneficial in protecting them against malaria.
Apart from the warm sensation upon application of this mix, the repellents are neutral and non-irritating. Studies are underway to ascertain the mechanisms behind the benefits of this mixture on malaria.
How to Select and Eat Wood Apples?
Wood apple can be consumed as ripe fruits or in the form of juice. A ripe wood apple is sweet and can be used for making a tasty drink known as wood apple milk. The ripe fruit is also consumed as custard with sugar or honey in certain cultures. The raw fruit is sour to taste and is used to make chutney, while the leaves of this tree are used as a salad ingredient.
Word of Caution: Like any other food/fruits, we have to take some precautions when consuming the wood apple. Excessive consumption of wood apple causes flatulence in the abdomen, so people with gastric troubles should be careful. Also, if you have never consumed wood apple before, try a small amount to check how your body reacts. Anything can be an allergen, so it is better to start small and work your way up to larger portions once you know that it compliments your body.