What is Hala Fruit?
We have written about a number of interesting and exotic fruits here at healthyfocus. Many of these fruits are not well-known outside of their local areas but are full of nutrition and health benefits. Many are also delicious and can add a great deal to a fruit salad or juice recipe to impress your friends.
Today we are going to look at a little known fruit from the Pacific islands called hala fruit. If you are interested in knowing more about this delicious, nutritious fruit and how it can help your health then please read on.
Hala fruit grows on the Pandanus tree known scientifically as Pandanus tectorius. It is a native of Malaysia, the Pacific Islands and Eastern Australia. It usually grows on coastal areas and can also be found in Hawaii where it is known as Tahitian Screwpine.
The fruit itself is very unusual to look at. Inside its hard, red, fibrous husk you will find dozens and sometimes hundreds of little wedges with seeds.
Some Facts About Hala Fruit and Pandanus
- Most of the tree has medicinal benefits including the shoots, fruit and leaves.
- Pandanus leaves are used for cooking. They are usually used to wrap meat, fish and rice before cooking.
- The juice of the leaves is extracted to make a paste called pandan paste and used in cooking and making local delicacies.
- The pulp of the fruit is used as a flavoring for deserts, sauces, jam and chutney.
- Hala fruit is a good source of beta-carotene which can help to treat vitamin A deficiencies.
- The leaves can be used to treat the hair and prevent dandruff.
- The seeds are usually eaten after they have been roasted.
- The leaves are also good for the heart. They can help reduce high blood pressure and might even help relieve stress.
- Locals use the leaves to treat premature ejaculation.
- The fiber from the leaves are also used in basket making and to produce string.
- The leaves are used to add fragrance and color to many savory dishes.
- Only the female trees bear fruit and it takes around 20 years before they produce fruit.
- The fruit is around 25 cm in diameter and looks similar to a pineapple.
Health Benefits of Hala Fruit
Unlike many fruits, we do not have a lot of scientific research to base our evidence on. What we do have however is centuries of anecdotal evidence from local people in the Pacific Islands who have used the fruit and leaves of its tree for centuries if not longer.
Like most fruit, hala contains natural antioxidants, vitamins and various minerals. It is also a good source of dietary fiber which we could all do with in our diets. The following are some of the best known uses of hala fruit.
Like many types of fruit, hala is a good source of dietary fiber. The vast majority of people do not get enough fiber into their diet especially in the West where our diets contain far too many processed foods. Research indicates that more fiber can improve our health in a variety of ways.
It can help treat and prevent numerous common digestive issues like constipation, bloating, flatulence and even diarrhea. Research also suggest that adding more fiber to your diet may even reduce the risk of serious illnesses like cancer. Instead of eating empty calories that give you no value and slow down the digestive process, add some fruit like hala to your diet and reap the rewards.
I can not find any scientific evidence to back up the claim but anecdotal evidence suggests that hala fruit may have mild diuretic properties. A diuretic helps stimulate the production of urine and the frequency with which you urinate.
Diuretic medications are prescribed for a wide variety of ailment from urinary tract infections to kidney troubles. Unfortunately, pharmaceutical diuretics bring the risk of many side effects so it is good that nature provides and alternative in the form of various herbs and fruits. Hala fruit may be one of them but I suspect you would have to eat a lot of it to experience the true benefits.
Eating fiber rich hala fruit may well be good for the heart. It makes a heart healthy alternative to regular processed snacks and according to some, it can help improve blood circulation. By improving circulation, it may protect against heart disease.
There is plenty of evidence that adding fiber to your diet can reduce the risk of heart disease as well as a number of other diseases. A systematic review of the link between cardiovascular disease and fiber intake published in 2013 confirmed that there was a significant link. They concluded that the intake of fruit fiber did indeed reduce the risk of heart disease and backed up all the recommendations to consume more dietary fiber.
‘Greater dietary fiber intake is associated with a lower risk of both cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. Findings are aligned with general recommendations to increase fiber intake.’ (1)
Boosts Energy Levels
Hala fruit provides you with good quality nutrition that can boost your energy and prevent your body and mind from becoming fatigued. We could all do with a boost of energy at times and vitamin rich fruits like hala are a great way to stimulate the system when you are feeling sluggish.
If your energy levels are low, try a glass of hala and coconut juice on the morning. This will give you a great boost of long-lasting energy.
The locals in Hawaii claim that hala fruit can not only confer physical benefits but can also improve your mental state. According to the locals, eating hala fruit can help to relax the mind and may ease some of the symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Unfortunately, there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support the claim that hala fruit can help reduce your symptoms but we know that a good diet can help. This coupled with anecdotal evidence from the locals that eat the fruit suggests that it could help relax your mind.
To Boost Libido
According to the locals who have consumed it for thousands of years, hala fruit also has aphrodisiac properties. I have seen so many claims that herbs and other foods can improve your sex life that I tend to take them with a large dose of salt.
Very few of the claims I have read regarding the aphrodisiac potential of plants are backed by science. Again, there is no evidence that eating the stuff will boost your libido but there is no harm in trying and it would make for a nice bonus benefit.
To Floss the Teeth
Nearly all parts of the hala plant are useful in some way so it is not surprising that the fibrous tips can be used to clean the teeth. Locals use these green tips to clean their teeth after meals and prevent particles from building up. They make for a great, natural toothpick or floss to kep your mouth clean and fresh following your meal.
According to traditional use and local knowledge, hala fruit can also help relieve painful headaches and migraines. I must admit, I have no information whether or not hala fruit can relieve pain beyond the anecdotal evidence that I have read.
For Menstrual Cramp
According to traditional use, consuming hala fruit can help females combat the monthly pains they experience as a result of their menstrual cycles. Although anecdotal evidence is not as strong as scientific research, it can often be relied upon and many studies have later backed up what the locals have known for centuries.
Eating fiber rich fruits like hala can help improve your digestive wellbeing meaning your digestive system will work more effectively. It can also help satiate your appetite helping you feel more full throughout the day. By feeling less hungry you are also less likely to snack on junk food and will consume fewer calories. In the long-term, this may result in gradual weight loss.
Of course, no single food will help you to lose a dramatic amount of weight unless it is incorporated into a diet plan involving better nutrition and more exercise.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Hala fruit edible?
Many people are unaware that hala fruit is edible, even those who are familiar with the plant. However, the fruit itself is actually edible and can be eaten both cooked and raw. It is also used to make jam, juice and puree. The other parts of the fruit are also put to good use and the green sections are used as a natural tooth floss.
What does the hala fruit taste like?
Many people find hala fruit to be a bit of an acquired taste and not everybody enjoys it at first. When left out in the sun for a long time, the fruit gives of a nasty odor which is why the locals refer to it as ‘stink nut’. However, many locals enjoy the fruit and chew on it raw or boil it up with some grated coconut. They also use it to make puree, pastes and juice. Some people describe the flavor as a cross between mango and sugar cane but the description is hard to nail down.
Is hala fruit good for you?
Yes it is. Just how good it is for you is open to debate. We do not even have reliable nutritional data on the fruit since it is so rarely eaten in the West. However, there is decent anecdotal evidence that hala fruit can contribute to better health in a number of ways. It is high in fiber and can help reduce the risk of heart disease and improve digestion. Snacking on a high fiber fruit like hala may also help you lose weight in the long run. Hala fruit might also help relieve pain and help you to relax.
How to Eat Hala Fruit
You can either eat hala fruit cooked or raw. It is also often made into a healthy juice and as an ingredient in jams and jellies.
Hala fruit comes from the pandanus tree native to the Pacific Islands and parts of South East Asia. While it is very much an unknown fruit in the West, it has been eaten by the locals for a very ling time. Research into its medical benefits are lacking but anecdotal evidence from the locals suggest it has a variety of potential health benefits. It is a good source of dietary fiber that may help improve your digestive health as well as protecting against heart disease and helping you to lose weight.
Have you ever eaten hala fruit in any of its forms?
Let us know how you ate it and what you thought of it. We would be very happy to hear from you.