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Health Benefits of Custard Apple (Sitaphal)

Discovered in the Americas, custard apple ‘sitaphal’ popularity is growing globally for its unique taste, it’s medicinal and related health benefits. In fact, traditional medicine also mention benefits of consuming the leaves of custard apple plant. 

In the Indian context, Sitaphal evokes various interesting tales behind the origin of its name. Some suggest the name was given by the monkey brigade of Lord Ram as they felt the whitest seeds of the fruit resembled Sita Ma’s tears. Another story talks about this fruit being one of favourite fruit of Sita Ma, during her exile. Or maybe Sita Phal means Cooling Fruit… the stories are endless. Whatever the reasons, Sitaphal is fast becoming an integral part of the Indian Kitchen and Diet.

Custard apple ‘sitaphal” is a fruit with green hard rind and scaly skin. Internally this fruit has a creamy, soft, and sweet flesh. This flesh is the edible part of the fruit. The pulp has black shiny seeds that are not to be consumed.

Nutritional facts of Custard Apple

As per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, 100 gm of custard apple contains 101 calories, 1.7 gm of proteins, 2.4 gm of fiber, 25.2 gm of carbohydrates, 0.6 gm of fats, 

0.71 mg of iron, 30 mg of calcium, 382 mg of potassium, 21 mg of phosphorous, 18 mg of magnesium, 0.5 mg of niacin, 15 mg of ascorbic acid, o.5 mg of nicotinic acid, 19.2 mg of vitamin C, 0.8 mg of thiamin, 5.6 mg of Epicatechin, 6.2 mg of Proanthocyanidin monomers, and 14.2 mg of Proanthocyanidin dimers.

Potential Health Benefits of Custard apple ‘sitaphal”

1/5. Boosts eyesight

1. The high content of riboflavin and vitamin C found in custard apple helps in promoting eye health.

2. The essential nutrients found in custard apple prevent drying of eyes. 

3. The antioxidant lutein present in sitaphal boosts healthy vision by fighting against the free radicals. It also lowers the risk of age-related macular degeneration and protects against certain eye disorders.

2/5. Reduces the risk to cancers

1. Certain flavonoids of custard apple such as epicatechin, catechin, and epigallocatechin arrest the growth of cancer cells. These flavonoids are beneficial in treating several types of cancers. 

2. Elements such as alkaloids and acetogenin found in sitaphal help in lowering the risk of cancer. 

3. Custard apple possesses antioxidant properties which act against the cancer-causing cells. Antioxidant compounds such as bullatacin and asimicin possess anti-cancer properties. They neutralize the effects of free radicals, thus preventing cancer.

3/5. Delays ageing of the skin

1. Custard apple boosts and stimulates the production of collagen in the body thus, decreasing wrinkles and the fine lines. Collagen provides elasticity and smoothness to the skin. 

2. The elasticity of the skin is enhanced due to the compounds present in custard apple which slows down the collagen breakdown.

3. The antioxidants present in sitaphal delays the age spots and blemishes.

4. The vitamin A content of custard apple plays a role in anti-ageing.

4/5. Lowers the risk of arthritis

1. The high content of magnesium in custard apple helps in equalizing the water balance in the body hence, eliminating acids from the joints thereby decreasing the symptoms of rheumatism and arthritis. 

2. The calcium content of custard apple is vital for bone health.

5/5. Other possible Benefits…

Custard apple produces several health benefits, apart from the health benefits mentioned above, it also produces few more such as helps fight fatigue, enhances brain health, prevents anaemia, boosts mood, prevents high blood pressure, promotes digestion, fights inflammation, boosts immunity, promotes skin & hair health, helps gain healthy weight, aids in digestion, controls blood pressure, prevents asthma, prevents heart attacks, treats diabetes, reduces cholesterol, treats diarrhoea and dysentery, relieves colic, reduces morning sickness, useful in wound healing, and treats malaria.

The leaves of custard apple are edible and high in fibre, they help break down blood sugar slowly. Traditional wisdom suggests to boil 2-3 leaves, the concoction can be consumed every morning to balance sugar spike, improve digestion and to derive other benefits.

How to incorporate Custard Apple in the Diet?

Custard apple can be eaten fresh. They can be consumed either in the fresh or juice form. Some of the ways by which custard apple can be incorporated in the diet are as follows…

  • Added in fruit salads.
  • Added to a smoothie. 
  • Used to prepare milkshakes and juices.
  • Used as toppings for ice cream, oatmeal, or pancakes.
  • Added into various savoury dishes such as chicken salad, or vegetable curry.

How to prepare Custard apple ice cream at home?

Take ½ cup of deseeded custard apple, 1 tablespoon of vanilla essence, 1 frozen banana, 100 gm fresh cream, 1 cup milk powder, and 2 cups milk. Add all these ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Mix it well so that there is no formation of sediments or lumps. 

Fold 1/3rd cup of deseeded custard apple into the blended and mix it till well incorporated.

Take a shallow container, and pour the entire mixture.

Cover the container with the help of foil paper and freeze it until it is completely set.

Serve the custard apple ice cream and enjoy!

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