10 Health Benefits of Eating Star Fruit/Carambola

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Star Fruit: The Introduction

Star fruit is something that you can easily find anywhere in India. It is sold freely amidst churans, pickles, and candied fruit in old-fashioned packaging in carts. Most school-going children have had it once as a tasty and tangy snack that offers an instant pick-me-up. Most of us grew up eating it, without knowing how beneficial it is for our health.

Carambola is another popular name for star fruit. It is a tropical fruit. It finds its origins in a species of tropical Southeast Asian trees. These trees go by the botanical name of Averrhoa Carambola. Australia, Guyana, India, and Malaysia are some of the top cultivators of this exotic fruit. It finds usage in many cuisines around the world, primarily due to its sweet and sour taste.

Physical Structure

The flowers of this deciduous tree are light purple. The star fruit is oval and green when unripe. Every fruit has about five or six ridges that go along from end to end. These ridges give a 5-point star shape to the cut section of the fruit, explaining its name. After ripening, the fruit obtains a bright yellow hue with darker ridges. The flesh of the fruit is comparable to a grape-like texture. The average size of a fully grown star fruit is 10 cm in length.

The star fruit is of two types, based on its taste. Sour-tasting star fruits are small in size. They also have a high amount of oxalic acid. The bigger fruits are much sweeter. Many countries cultivate both types of commercial use.

Uses of Star Fruit

Uses of Star Fruit
  • The ripened star fruit is the most delicious to eat. The entire fruit in its uncooked form is fit to consume
  • Chinese cook star fruit with fish. Australian cuisines make jams and pickles from this sweet fruit. The sour fruit, along with some spices, makes a good relish. Sour fruits are ideal to make cold drinks. The juice by itself is delicious. It is also a good seasoning agent.
  • The star fruit trees are grown for decorative purposes as well. The green leaves and bright yellow fruits are appealing to look at.
  • Another less common use is to clean metals. The sour fruits with their acidic nature can help to get rid of rusts and stained metals.

Nutritional Facts of Star Fruit:

The nutritional value of average-sized raw star fruit is given below:

91 grams of star fruit contains:

  • Calories: 28 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 6 g
  • Fibre: 3 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Fat: 0.28 g

Other:

  • A serving of this fruit is not only rich in fibre but is also low in calories. The sugar content of the fruit is less than 4 percent. This combination makes it a healthy fruit choice.
  • It is rich in Vitamin C. It contains 34 grams of vitamin C, which makes up about 40% of the daily recommended value. Vitamin C keeps the skin healthy-looking and provides shine to the hair and nails.
  • It contains about 8% of the daily recommended value of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5). This essential vitamin aids in the conversion of food to energy.
  • Star fruits are mostly made of water with very low-fat content. It makes it an ideal choice for eating in more quantity for weight loss goals. 
  • It acts as a source for certain plant compounds like gallic acid and epicatechin. These compounds are rich in antioxidants.
  • Small amounts of folate, riboflavin, and other vitamins are present. It also contains minerals like magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus in the range of 10 to 12 milligrams.

10 Health Benefits of Star Fruit

10 Health Benefits of Star Fruit

1. Enhances Digestion

Star fruit contains a significant amount of dietary fibre. This enhances your body’s metabolism by preventing bloating and stomach cramps. It helps to regulate bowel movements. The B vitamins in the fruit ensure to maintain normal enzyme levels.

2. Improves Skin and Hair Quality

The abundance of vitamin C in it is crucial to healthy skin and hair. Vitamin C helps in the synthesis of collagen, providing a healthy shine to the body.

3. Boosts Immune System

Another important benefit of vitamin C is its ability to boost up immunity. It makes carambola ideal for consumption during flu seasons. A stronger immune system can help fight infections in the body.

4. Aids in Weight Loss

The fibre rich fruit promotes a feeling of fullness. Moreover, its low calorie and fat content are ideal for diets and calorie goals.

5. Reduces Iron Deficiency

Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron in the body. Although the iron content in the fruit is low, there is a chance to improve iron absorption and help with anemia.

6. Reduces Inflammation

The antioxidant-rich plant compounds help to reduce inflammation. They fight harmful free radicals. Vitamin C also contains anti-inflammatory properties to help with swellings.

7. Promotes Heart Health

Minerals like potassium and calcium have a relaxing effect on the blood vessels. Potassium found in this fruit helps to regulate blood pressure. The calcium content in the fruit reduces the possibility of heart attacks and strokes.

8. Increases Hydration

Over 90% of a carambola comprises water. Its exceptional hydrating property is optimal for hot summers. Drink it as a juice to hydrate and cool the body.

9. Helps to Sleep

The magnesium in the carambola is a sleep promoter. Eating this fruit can help you sleep better.

10. Regulates Insulin Level

Star fruits contain less than 4% sugar and high fibre. The fibre keeps a check on sugar levels in the body. Its low sugar content makes it a good option of fruit for everyone.

Common Ways to Consume Star Fruit in India:

  • The easiest way to add carambola to your diet is to eat them raw. Its juicy texture and mild sweetness are perfect for hot summers in India
  • Star fruit in juice form is a healthy cold drink option. It is refreshing and hydrating to the body
  • Add the cut fruit in salads along with other fruits. It makes a wholesome snacking option for small hunger
  • The sour carambola is made into chutney. The tart taste goes well with rice and dosas
  • Make star fruit into a sour and spicy pickle. It complements the perfect Indian thali
  • Bake star fruit pies for an extra sweet dessert

Recipes Using Star Fruit

Recipes Using Star Fruit

Sweet and sour recipes using carambola are discussed below.

1. Star Fruit Jam Recipe

Ingredients: 

  • Star fruit – 1 cup, sliced
  • Maple syrup or raw organic Honey – 3 tablespoons
  • Lemon zest – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Chia seeds – 2 tablespoons

Method:

  1. In a saucepan, over medium flame, add the fruit, lemon zest, and mix well.
  2. As the mixture begins to boil, mash the fruit with the back of a fork until it breaks down.
  3. After a couple of minutes, remove the pan from the heat. 
  4. Allow it to cool down a little until slightly warm.
  5. Stir in the Maple syrup or honey, starting with 1 to 2 tablespoons. Taste, and add more if required.
  6. Add the chia seeds and stir to incorporate. 
  7. Let the jam set for about 5 minutes to thicken. Cool it completely and transfer it to a jar or air-tight container and refrigerate.

2. Star Fruit Chutney Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Star fruit – 1/2 cup
  • Mint leaves – 1/2 cup
  • Coriander leaves – 1 cup
  • Salt to taste
  • Ginger – 1 medium slice 
  • Green chilies – 4-5 or as per preference

Method:

  1. Wash and cut star fruit into pieces.
  2. Add all ingredients into a blender jar.
  3. Blend it into a smooth paste.
  4. Remove in a bowl and the chutney is ready to serve.

The chutney goes as a great combination with rice, idli, and dosa.

Summary

Star fruits are juicy yellow fruits with a mild sweet taste. They get their name from their star-like cross-sectional view. Bigger star fruits are sweet to taste and the smaller ones are sour. The whole fruit is fit to consume in its raw state. Many cuisines cook the fruit into jams, relishes, and pickles.

It is very low in calories but is also fibre rich. Weight loss and increase in metabolic rate are due to its fibrous nature. Star fruit contains a good amount of vitamin C. This helps to boost the immune system, reduce inflammation and improve skin health. The high water content makes it easy to digest and hydrates the body.

Star fruit chutney and pickles are common ways of eating the fruit in India. Fruit juice is also preferable for hot summers. In conclusion, adding star fruit to your diet can be a good change from the routine fruits. Its high nutritional values are enough proof to convince anyone.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Can star fruit help in weight loss?

A. Star fruit is a healthy snack. It can help you lose those ounces due to its low calorific content. This highly beneficial fruit also helps spur on your metabolism, making it just perfect for weight loss.

Q. Can star fruit lead to toxicity?

A. Star fruit is toxic only for people who are suffering from kidney disease. Neurotoxins like Caramboxin acid can lead to serious problems like seizure occurrence in those with compromised kidney function. Normal people’s kidneys can filter these neurotoxins out but people suffering from kidney diseases may suffer symptoms like hiccups, mental confusion, seizures, and even death in extreme cases.

Q. Can star fruit lead to kidney damage?

A. As mentioned above, star fruit should be strictly avoided by patients suffering from kidney diseases like chronic kidney disease due to the neurotoxic effect of substances like Caramboxin and oxalate present in it which can greatly exacerbate any underlying kidney problems. For normal patients, there haven’t been too many published studies regarding any toxic effects, but like any food item, this fruit should be consumed in moderation.

Q. Can star fruit be consumed by pregnant women?

A. Star fruits can be consumed during pregnancy. It has a very high nutritional content and is rich in vitamins A, C, and E as well as potassium, calcium, and phosphorus. It’s also said to aid fever, cough, and hypertension. However, it’s advisable to consult your physician once before adding it to your diet.

Q. Can star fruit prevent liver cancer?

A. Star fruits have shown the ability to reduce the risk of fatty liver disease as well as prevent liver cancer in albino mice. Unfortunately, any such conclusive parallel study for humans is unavailable at the moment.

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