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.
Where I live in Thailand, sapodilla is a very popular fruit at certain times of the year. It is eaten raw and used to make juices, milkshakes, ice cream and jam.
In its ripe state, it is extremely sweet with a flavor that I can’t quite compare with another fruit. I can tell you that it is delicious however especially if you have a sweet tooth.
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 healthy 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.
A 100 gram serving of the fruit will also provide you with 83 calories, over 5 grams of fiber and no cholesterol whatsoever.
As far as minerals are concerned, eating sapodilla will provide you with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, selenium, and phosphorus. It also contains many of the B vitamins including folate, niacin, and riboflavin.
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.
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 sapodilla 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.
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 the 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some Facts About Sapodilla
- Originally native to Mexico and other parts of Central America, sapodilla is now harvested in many parts of the world.
- Some of the top commercial producers of the fruit are India, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico, and Pakistan.
- The tree can grow to around 30 meters in height but in cultivated trees, the average height is between 10 and 15 meters.
- The sapodilla fruit is about the same size as a lime. Its flesh is an earthy, yellow color with a slightly grainy texture similar to a pear.
- The ripe fruit is extremely sweet with a delicious malty flavor.
- The unripe sapodilla fruit is extremely bitter. It contains a high amount of saponins with astringent properties. Eating the unripe fruit can dry out the mouth and cause irritation and stinging.
- Compounds which were extracted from the tree’s leaves have demonstrated antioxidant, anti-diabetic and cholesterol reducing effects in rats.
- Sapodilla was traditionally used as a natural remedy for diarrhea. Its high fiber content makes it an excellent choice to deal with both diarrhea and constipation and other common digestive issues.
- Sapodilla contains tannin substances with various medicinal benefits. tannins are often used to treat diarrhea and hemorrhoids.
- Sapodilla is high in Vitamins A and C.
- Eating sapodilla with a small pinch of salt is recommended as a home remedy for constipation.
- Sapodilla may help reduce bacterial and viral infections in the body. It may also help reduce inflammation.
- Sapodilla can be consumed raw by simply scooping out the flesh with a spoon. It is also a popular ingredient in jams and jellies. It is also used to make ice cream, custard, milkshake and juice
How to Eat Sapodilla
If you are unfamiliar with the fruit, then I should probably give you a few instructions on 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 in fruit cakes and desserts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Sapodilla good for health?
Yes, it is. Sapodilla fruit has a high fiber content making it excellent for digestive health.
It can help prevent and treat various common digestive troubles like diarrhea, constipation, dyspepsia and bloating. It also contains various important vitamins with antioxidant properties and is a good source of essential minerals.
Is Chikoo good for weight loss?
Chikoo or sapodilla fruit may well help you to lose weight as part of an overall weight loss plan. Because of its high fiber content, it can satiate the appetite meaning you will eat less during the day.
Its high fiber content can also help keep your digestive system working efficiently. It is definitely not a magic pill, but if you incorporate sapodilla into your diet, it might help you shed some unwanted pound in the long term.
How do you eat a sapodilla?
Sapodilla is usually consumed fresh. Simply cut the ripe fruit in half and scoop the flesh out with a teaspoon. You can also use sapodilla as an ingredient in jams, jelly, juice, milkshake or as a topping for oatmeal or yogurt. Do not eat unripe sapodilla since its high tannin and latex content can irritate the mouth and throat and even cause trouble breathing.
What does a Chikoo taste like?
The taste of sapodilla is difficult to describe. When the fruit is ripe, it is extremely sweet because of the high sucrose and fructose content. It has a malty flavor and some people compare its taste to a pear. If you have a sweet tooth, give sapodilla a try and decide for yourself.
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 if you are concerned about your weight as it is relatively high in calories.
Raw sapodilla fruit has a high tannin and latex content making the fruit much too bitter to eat.
Trying to eat the unripe fruit may cause mouth ulcers, breathing difficulties and irritation in the throat and mouth. Make sure that the fruit is fully ripe before you eat it.