Researchers have found that African star apple called Udara in Igbo language can be used to treat patients suffering from high blood sugar and heart diseases
| By Chinwe Okafor | Feb. 17, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
ARE you suffering from high blood sugar or heart related diseases? Researchers from Covenant University Ogun state have good news for you. They have found that you can lower your high blood sugar and cure heart related diseases by consuming African star apple, fondly called Agbalumo in Yoruba or Udara in Igbo. The researchers at the department of Biological Sciences, College of Science and Technology, Covenant University, Ogun State, Nigeria, in a recent study showed that the local cherry lowers blood sugar, cholesterol and could be useful in preventing and treating heart diseases.
The African star apple contains an alkaloid known as eleagnine which is found to be the main compound responsible for its antimicrobial activity. This alkaloid has been found to exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Its seed contains a cotyledon which has anti-hyperglycemic and hypolipidemic. It is also used as ointments in the treatment of vaginal and dermatological infections. Some other researchers at the Forest Research Institute, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria, unraveled that its leaves has a strong anti-bacterial activity against common bacteria isolates.
The fruit which is a dark yellowish in colour with semi-circle seeds whose flesh is consumed have some other health benefits. It is rich in vitamin C and has an anti-oxidant property that helps to fight cancer and helps in the treatment of diabetes. Its pulp contains greater amount of crude fibre, fat, and has caloric value. The fleshy pulp is eaten especially as snack and it has high contents of ascorbic acid. It is also an excellent source of vitamins, irons, flavours to diets. Its seeds contained a higher content of carbohydrate, crude protein, calcium and magnesium, its pulp contains sodium and iron while the peel contains greater amount of potassium and zinc.
Research findings revealed that the moisture content of the star apple peel, pulp and seed were 47.95 percent, 32.65 percent and 26.55 percent, respectively. Its moisture content is one of the most important and most widely used parameter in food processing hence; star apple seed can easily be processed and preserved easily since it contains less moisture. Its fat contents are 8.94 percent for the peel, 10.00 percent for the pulp and 3.45 percent for the seed. This shows that the pulp contained a higher amount of fat than the peel and the seed. According to the research, the crude fibre content is higher in the pulp and lower in the peel. The physiological role of fibre is to maintain an intestinal tract and people with low fibre have been associated with diseases of the colon like piles, appendicitis and cancer.
Uche Ogbanufe, a nutritionist in Kogi, said that the fruit contains more vitamin C than guava or orange and it’s an excellent source of calcium, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, tannins, flavonoids, terpenoids, and phytochemicals. She said that the fruit contains anti-oxidant properties and the bark is considered as a tonic and stimulant. “The locals, for several centuries, have traditionally used the bark of the tree to treat yellow fever and malaria, while the leaf was used for treating wounds, stomach-ache, and diarrhea. It is also a good remedy for sore throat, toothache and constipation and it contains a hundred times more vitamin C than oranges, and ten times that of guava,” she said.
According to her, the African star apple is mostly grown in the rural areas in the country but research has shown a decline in its cultivation in many African countries. She attributed this to the tendency for animals to eat them before they matured for human consumption.
Botanically called chrysophyllum albidum, the African star apple belongs to the sapotaceae family. The fruit which is sub-spherical in shape, five celled and about 3cm in diameter contains an edible sweet fruit-pulp and is common from the months of December to April. The skin or peel, is orange to golden yellow when ripe and within the pulp are at least five seeds, which cannot be eaten. Its skin is rich in latex, and its seeds are light brown and hard.