Sapodilla is a tasty tropical fruit with an easily digested soft pulp like mango. Also known as sapoto, the fruit grows on a tropical evergreen belonging to the Sapotaceae family with the scientific name of Manikara zapota.
Sapodilla is originally native to Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean but is now widely cultivated in many other parts of the world including Thailand, India, Cambodia and Indonesia. If you are unfamiliar with sapodilla, there are actually four main varieties of the fruit namely Russel, Brown Sugar, Tikal and Prolific sapodilla.
What is Sapodilla?
The sapodilla tree is a tall and long living evergreen tree which can reach heights exceeding 100 feet. It has glossy oblong shaped leaves and produces pretty bell shaped white flowers all year round. Sapodilla thrives in tropical and subtropical climes especially in light, well-drained soil.
The Sapodilla Fruit
Sapodilla is the common name for the fruit of the tree and is typically in season between May and September. Sapodilla is oval in shape and pale yellow to brown in color. The edible flesh contains up to a dozen seeds at the center. The fruit itself is around half an inch in diameter has a thin skin and a very sweet flavor.
The fruit contains a variety of healthy and essential vitamins and minerals as well as a hea;thy dose of dietary fiber and protein. As you would expect from a fruit, sapodilla is high in antioxidant rich vitamin C and also contains vitamin A, niacin and folate.
As far as minerals are concerned, eating sapodilla will provide you with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and phosphorus.
Traditional Uses of Sapodilla
Not only is the fruit itself full of nutrition but the seeds can also be used. The seeds of the sapodilla fruit contain saponins and quercetin which can be used to treat a variety of ailments. Pastes are often made from the seeds to make topical remedies that can be applied to stings and bites.
Traditionally, the fruit’s compressed seeds have been used to remedy kidney stones and bladder infections.
Decoctions made from the leaves of the plant are traditionally used in South America to help treat respiratory problems like colds and coughs and also for digestive conditions such as bloating and diarrhea and to reduce blood pressure.
In Indonesia, the flowers of the tree are used to make a powder which is applied to a woman’s body following childbirth. In Cambodia, the tree’s bark which contains tannins is used as a remedy for fever and diarrhea.
The Health Benefits of Sapodilla
Sapodilla is certainly tasty but it is also very healthy. It contains plenty of dietary fiber and is full of healthful nutrients that can help maintain your overall health and tackle certain illnesses. It is laden with antioxidants and also has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties. These are just some of the conditions that sapodilla can help you overcome.
1) Cold Prevention
Like most foods that are high in vitamin C, sapodilla can help boost the body’s immune system helping to keep illness at bay. Good amounts of vitamin C from fruit like sapodila is especially useful for preventing common viral illnesses like colds and influenza. There is also plenty of evidence to suggest that vitamin C reduces your risk of viral infections like pneumonia.
2) Better Digestion
I know it is oft said but it is worth repeating that fiber is good for you and sapodilla contains plenty of dietary fiber. In fact is incredibly good for you but despite being told this from an early age, the evidence suggests that the vast majority of us fail to get adequate amounts of fiber in our diets.
Fiber is especially helpful for our digestive systems. It can contribute to overall digestive health and help alleviate many of the common digestive symptoms that we are familiar with like constipation, diarrhea and indigestion.
There is plenty of evidence that fiber can also reduce the risk of inflammatory bowel disorders, heart disease and even colon cancer
3) Weight Control
Another reason that fiber is good for you is that it can help satiate the appetite and reduce the craving for food throughout the day. This is obviously helpful for people looking to cut their calorific intake in order to shed some unwanted weight. Fibrous foods also help keep your digestive system working at optimal levels and help to properly clean out the bowels.
If you are concerned about your weight, be careful not to get too much of your fiber from sapodilla because it is high in calories and fructose.
4) Antioxidant Benefits
Sapodilla supplies you with plenty of much needed antioxidants. If you did not already know, antioxidants are vital in order to maintain health and reduce the risk of illness caused by free radicals.
There is a mass of evidence that antioxidant rich foods can protect us from the oxidative stress that leads to deadly diseases like cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants also have a protective effect on the brain and reduce the risk of developing degenerative neural conditions like Alzheimer’s.
And that is not all, if you are worrying that you are aging too quickly, antioxidant fruit like sapodilla can help your skin appear younger and fresher for that much longer.
5) Bone Health
Sapodilla contains a variety of essential minerals like calcium, zinc and manganese that are known to have a positive effect on the health of your bones and muscles. A deficiency in calcium increases the risk of your bones becoming weaker and developing common conditions like osteoporosis.
6) Skin Benefits
Sapodilla contains a diverse range of nutrients and antioxidant compounds making it perfect for maintaining a healthy, youthful complexion.
Vitamin E found in the fruit helps moisturize the skin giving it a healthy glow while its antioxidant compounds can protect against many of those telltale signs of aging. The seed of the sapodilla fruit is also used to extract an oil used to treat various skin ailments.
7) Hair Benefits
In the same way that the nutrients contained by sapodilla help the health of your skin. they also help maintain healthy and glossy looking hair. Simply eating plenty of this nutrient rich food will have a marked effect but you could also use sapodilla seed oil assuming that you can find it.
How to Eat Sapodilla
If you are unfamiliar with the fruit, then I should probably give you a few instructions about how to eat the stuff. Like any other sweet, soft fruit, there are plenty of options and the choice is entirely yours.
It is a sweet and tasty fruit to eat on its own and typically eaten fresh and raw with the flesh being scooped from the fruit. Because of its pleasant, sweet flavor you can happily add the fruit to your oatmeal, juice or shake recipes. It is also possible to use it to make jams, ice creams and jellies and can sometimes be found in ready-made juices or as an ingredient ion fruit cakes and deserts.
Eating sapodilla when it is not fully ripe can cause throat irritation, mouth ulcers and in extreme cases difficulty breathing.
Although it is considered a healthy fruit, too much of the stuff may not be so great of you are concerned about your weight as it is relatively high in calories.