5 Top Health Benefits of Rose Apples

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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Rose apples have a number of health benefits including controlling diabetes, improving digestion, reducing toxicity, promoting heart health, and boosting immunity. Despite the name, rose apples are not related to roses or apples. In fact, they are closely related to guava, and although there are multiple species, the most commonly eaten variety has the scientific name Syzygium jambos. The fruit, bark, and leaves of the plant have several medicinal properties and were used commonly in folklore remedies. Here, we take a closer look at the top health benefits of rose apples.

What are Rose Apples?

Rose apples are bell-shaped or egg-shaped tropical fruits with a waxy exterior and fibrous fruit flesh. They may be white, pink, red, or purple in color, depending on the regions they are grown in. They are commonly called rose apples as the flesh of the fruit has the delicate sweet taste of rose petals. In different parts of the world, they may be also called wax apples, makoba, love apple, java apple, Semarang rose apple, safed jamun, jamrosa, jambos, water apple, pomarosa, and bell fruit. One popular name for this fruit is jambu – not to be confused with jamun, which is a different fruit in many areas of India. They can either be eaten raw, like apples, or can be used to prepare a variety of dishes, salads, and desserts.

As mentioned, the plant with the scientific name Syzygium jambos is a shrub or a small tree native to Southeast Asia. It spread throughout the world as an ornamental plant. However, it is now considered an invasive species, as it can grow and propagate very quickly, overtaking local flora.

While the egg-shaped variety resembles guavas, they have a very different texture, flavor, and fragrance altogether. Also unlike guavas, rose apples have numerous seeds, this fruit only has one or two large, unarmored seeds in an open, central cavity.

A basket of fresh ripe rose apples with leaves on a wooden table

Fresh rose apples, or rosewater apples, are juicy and delicious. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Rose-apples, raw
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]93
Energy [kcal]25
Energy [kJ]105
Protein [g]0.6
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.3
Ash [g]0.4
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]5.7
Calcium, Ca [mg]29
Iron, Fe [mg]0.07
Magnesium, Mg [mg]5
Phosphorus, P [mg]8
Potassium, K [mg]123
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.06
Copper, Cu [mg]0.02
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.03
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]22.3
Thiamin [mg]0.02
Riboflavin [mg]0.03
Niacin [mg]0.8
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]17
Vitamin A, IU [IU]339
Sources include : USDA

Nutritional Value of Rose Apples

Rose apples are high in vitamins A and C, and rich in dietary fiber. According to the USDA, a 100 gm portion of rose apple has only 25 calories and 0.6gm of protein. They also contain calcium, thiamin, niacin, iron, sulfur, and potassium. In terms of organic plant compounds, they contain jambosine, betulinic acid, and friedelolactone.

Health Benefits of Rose Apples

Although research is limited, some important health benefits have been associated with this lesser-known fruit. Let’s take a closer look.

Control Diabetes

Jambosine is a type of alkaloid found in rose apples, that has shown promising results in regulating the conversion of starch into sugar. This may be an important development for those living with diabetes and who are at risk of developing this condition. Further research is ongoing about the impact of jambosine on blood sugar control. Traditionally in folk medicine, an infusion of roasted seed powder was said to be helpful against diabetes.

Aid in Digestion

The composition of rose apples – rich dietary fiber combined with high water content – makes them very good for regulating the passage of food through your digestive tract, relieving constipation, and perhaps, more serious health conditions. Also, in traditional medicine, the seeds of the fruit have been used to prevent diarrhea and dysentery.

Anti-cancer Potential

Early traditional texts have claimed that rose apples have anti-cancer potential because of nutrient profile, including high vitamins A and C content. However, there has been no study to support these claims, and further research is needed in this area.

Heart Health

The nutrient combination in rose apples – low in sodium and high in potassium, water, and other beneficial compounds – may have positive effects on lowering blood pressure. Lowering risk for hypertension and protecting heart health can lead to a lower risk of atherosclerosis, thereby preventing cardiovascular complications like heart attacks, strokes, and coronary heart diseases.

Health benefits of rose apples infographic

Rose apples are high in vitamins A and C, and rich in dietary fiber.

Boost Immunity

The active and volatile components in rose apple have been linked to having antimicrobial and anti-fungal effects. These antimicrobial and antifungal effects can help protect the skin from developing various infections and can boost the immune system against illness and infectious diseases.

Other Benefits

Although research is still ongoing, the fruit is also thought to potentially benefit other health concerns like epileptic seizures, smallpox, inflammation in the joints, strained eyes, and help in increasing the cognitive ability.

How To Eat Rose Apples?

Rose apples do not last long and are best eaten raw. The indication of its ripeness is the loose seed inside – so just shake the fruit and see if you can hear the sound of the seed hitting against the fruit. If you manage to get a handful of them when in season, here are some delicious ways you can use them.

  • Salads: Chop rose apples and toss them in salads for a flavorful bite.
  • Jams & jellies: You can combine them with other fruits to make preserves and jams.
  • Dessert: They are stewed in sugar and cinnamon and served as a dessert in Jamaica.

How to cut: You can cut a bell-shaped rose apple just like how you would cut a regular pear. Remove and discard the core. To cut the egg-shaped variety, you can slice it into half and remove the seeds. Enjoy!

The fruit is also used to make a syrup to flavor cold drinks. They can also be used to flavor vinegar to use in dishes as well as medicinally.

Word of Caution: The stems, seeds, and leaves of certain cultivars can be highly toxic and contain trace amounts of cyanide. Consume rose apples from trusted markets and avoid excessive consumption of other parts of the fruit besides the flesh and the skin.

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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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