9 Surprising Benefits of Lulo

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

The important health benefits of lulo may include its potential ability to improve the immune system, build strong bones, boost vision, regulate digestion, relieve stress, provide skincare, promote sleep, lower cholesterol, increase circulation, and detoxify the body.

What is Lulo?

Lulo is a citrus-like fruit that grows on a small shrub or tree. It is native to the northwest region of South America and has several names by which it is known. In Colombia, lulo is the accepted name, but in Panama and Ecuador (and parts of the United States), this delicious, tangy little fruit is called Naranjilla (it is also nicknamed as Colombian fruit). The scientific name of lulo is Solanum quitoense and the flavor is very distinctive and tart. Some people would compare it to a pineapple, or even a combination of lime and rhubarb. Different cultivars in different countries have slightly different tastes, as well as different concentrations of nutrients. The juice of lulo is a popular healthy drink, but the unusual green color of the juice may surprise some people. [1] [2] [3]

Although the demand for lulo around the world is growing because of its unique, exotic flavor, unfortunately, it is a member of the nightshade family, which is notoriously fragile and is susceptible to bruising, discoloration, and insects/diseases. For this reason, mass cultivation is not really an option for it, so it remains a small-scale crop that has relatively low export levels. [4]

To eat, cut the fruit in half and scoop out the two, white fleshy halves. The fruit can be eaten raw, or it can be cooked. However, it is most popularly added to jams, jellies, pies, and other desserts, as well as in ice cream flavoring and as the main ingredient in certain fruit juices and wines. Since lulo is somewhat difficult to acquire, many people go through the trouble. It is packed with nutrients and organic compounds that make it a very healthy addition to your fruit intake.

A half-sliced lulo with a full lulo on a wooden cutting board

Lulo is an exotic fruit with a citrus flavor that is popular in Colombia. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Naranjilla (lulo) pulp, frozen, unsweetened
Serving Size :
Water [g]93.05
Energy 25
Energy [kJ]103
Protein [g]0.44
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.22
Ash [g]0.39
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]5.9
Fiber, total dietary [g]1.1
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]3.74
Sucrose [g]1.72
Glucose (dextrose) [g]0.99
Fructose [g]1.04
Calcium, Ca [mg]8
Iron, Fe [mg]0.35
Magnesium, Mg [mg]11
Phosphorus, P [mg]12
Potassium, K [mg]200
Sodium, Na [mg]4
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.1
Copper, Cu [mg]0.03
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.07
Selenium, Se [µg]0.4
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]3.2
Thiamin [mg]0.05
Niacin [mg]1.45
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.22
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.11
Folate, total [µg]3
Folate, food [µg]3
Folate, DFE [µg]3
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]28
Carotene, beta [µg]333
Carotene, alpha [µg]4
Cryptoxanthin, beta [µg]10
Vitamin A, IU [IU]568
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]299
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.75
Tocopherol, gamma [mg]0.2
Tocotrienol, alpha [mg]0.01
Tocotrienol, gamma [mg]0.01
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]14.6
Sources include : USDA [5]

Nutritional Value of Lulo

Lulo fruit has been found to have high levels of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin K, folate, niacin, and thiamine, as well as calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, zinc, and dietary fiber. In addition to carbohydrates, protein, and sugar, it contains a lot of water and very low levels of fats and calories. It also possesses many antioxidant qualities, although the exact antioxidant compounds have not been sufficiently studied. [6]

Health Benefits of Lulo

With a unique taste, it also provides a great range of health benefits to all. Let’s discuss them in detail.

May Boost Immunity

Being high in vitamin C and vitamin A, lulo may be a wonderful way to boost your immune system. Vitamin C works as a natural antioxidant to clear out free radicals from your system. It can also stimulate white blood cell production, which is the body’s first line of defense against infectious diseases and other pathogens. [7]

May Aid Digestion

Pepsin is a type of fiber that is found in lulo and is found to be very beneficial for the digestive tract. All fibers may help to promote digestion, and pepsin is one of the best varieties for the health of your gastrointestinal tract. It can help eliminate constipation, cramping, bloating, and more serious conditions like gastric ulcers. [8]

May Improve Vision

The carotenoids found in lulo, possibly including vitamin A and beta-carotene, help to neutralize the free radicals that cause oxidative stress in certain ocular cells, including the macula lutea. This can reduce your chances of macular degeneration, cataracts, and other vision issues. [9]

May Reduce Cholesterol

The combination of dietary fiber, which can help to eliminate dangerous, “bad” cholesterol from the body, and the possibly rich variety of other vitamins and minerals can significantly improve the functioning of the cardiovascular system and lower your chances of developing atherosclerosis, as well as lower your risk of heart attacks and strokes. [10]

May Increase Circulation

The combination of dietary fiber that may be found in lulo can help to eliminate LDL (bad) cholesterol from the body, and the rich variety of other vitamins and minerals can significantly improve the functioning of the cardiovascular system. It also lowers your chance of developing atherosclerosis, as well as lowers your risk of heart attacks and strokes. [11]

May Improve Bone Strength

Strong bones are important at all stages of life, so a fruit like lulo, which has a rich diversity of minerals, including calcium, phosphorous, and iron, can significantly improve the density of bone tissue, thereby preventing conditions like osteoporosis and even arthritis as we age. [12]

May Detoxify the Body

Lulo has often been used in traditional medicine as a diuretic substance, meaning that it may increase urination. This can cleanse the kidney of excess toxins, relieve stress on the liver, and eliminate excess salts, water, and even fat from the body. People often turn to diuretic substances when they are looking to lose weight, or detoxify their body and blood of toxins. [13]

May Relieve Stress

Although research is ongoing in terms of the actual method of action for these health conditions, lulo has been connected with hormonal changes in the body that can improve mood, reduce stress, and even promote sleep for people suffering from insomnia and restless sleep disorders.

May Aid in Skin Care

Vitamin C is integral for the development of collagen, which can enhance skin elasticity and skin smoothening. It also supports the development of connective tissue, blood vessels, and organs.

Culinary Uses

One of the main uses of lulo is to prepare juices and smoothies. The traditional Colombian beverage, lulada, can be prepared by mixing lulo with water and sugar. Another in the queue is Champus, which is prepared by mixing lulo with pineapple, corn, panela, cinnamon, cloves, and orange tree leaves. The fruit is also consumed raw or cooked. It is also used in making jams, jellies and fruit pies. Adding the fruit pulp as a topping to ice creams, cakes, fruit salads, and yogurt is also a yummy idea!

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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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