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.
1) Digestive Health
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 can 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.
2) Diuretic Properties
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.
3) Heart Health
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.
As is the case with may of these claims, there is no scientific evidence to base them on and we are relying on anecdotal evidence.
4) 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.
5. Bring Relaxation
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.
6. To Boost Libido
According to the locals who have consumed it for thousands of years, hala fruit also has aphrodisiac properties. 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.
7. 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.
8. Relieve Headache
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 seen.
9. 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.
10. Weight Control
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.
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.
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.