Rich in fibre, antioxidants, and a good source of Vitamin C, the custard apple or sitaphal comes with a bunch of health benefits.
A pale green fruit with knobbly skin resembling a brain, the custard apple is not just unique in its appearance, but also in offering a plethora of health benefits. This fruit has a white creamy edible interior with large dark brown seeds. It is both delicious as well as high in nutrients.
Also known as sitaphal, sharifa or krishnaguru in India, the custard apple is a seasonal fruit mostly available during the winter season in India.
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Scientifically named Annona squamosa, this winter fruit is believed to have originated in the Andes of South America. It is mostly grown in tropical areas with high altitudes and is hence commonly found in Australia and Africa. But it is now also cultivated in Asia and West Indies.
According to several studies, the custard apple is rich in fibre and nutrients. Loaded with antioxidants, it is also a good source of Vitamin C and minerals like Magnesium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Zinc, and Calcium. Studies point out that not only the fruit, but even its seeds, leaves, bark and roots carry several medicinal and nutraceutical properties.
So, let’s take a look at some of the health benefits of including custard apples in our diet this season:
Improves heart health
Packed with antioxidants like flavonoids, phenolic compounds, kaurenoic acid, and Vitamin C, custard apple helps improve cardiovascular health. The presence of high amounts of antioxidants helps fight the free radicals that usually cause oxidative stress in the body, resulting in chronic diseases like heart disease.
The content of potassium and magnesium aids the dilation of blood vessels, which helps in maintaining lower blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart diseases.
The iron content in the fruit helps to prevent anaemia by increasing the haemoglobin level in the blood.
Aids in better digestion
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Custard apple contains a very good amount of dietary fibre, which aids in good digestion. Also, the presence of copper content in the fruit prevents or helps relieve constipation, while easing bowel movements.
Helps to boost the mood
This fruit is an excellent source of Vitamin B6, which plays an important role in regulating mood. There are studies that point out the connection between inadequate levels of Vitamin B6 in the blood and depression. Therefore, the presence of Vitamin B6 in the fruit has the potential to help reduce the symptoms of depression.
Good for skin
A rich source of antioxidants, the custard apple helps protect the skin from the damaging effects of free radicals and hence prevents several skin-related issues like ageing. It also helps in reducing sebum production, thereby controlling skin troubles like acne and pimples.
Improves eye health
Vitamin C and riboflavin are two of the most essential nutrients required for healthy eyes. These antioxidant nutrients present in the custard apple have the potential to help in fighting free radicals, thereby preventing damage to the cells. The carotenoid antioxidant, lutein, also contributes to the protection of the eyes from oxidative damage.
All of this combined helps to lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration and issues like cataracts. Furthermore, it also helps in maintaining a healthy vision.
Edited by Pranita Bhat
Nutritional and phytochemical composition of Annona cherimola Mill. fruits and by-products: Potential health benefits, published by National Center for Biotechnology Information in February 2016.
Dietary sources of lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids and their role in eye health, published by National Center for Biotechnology Information in April 2013.
Potassium, magnesium, and calcium: their role in both the cause and treatment of hypertension, published by National Center for Biotechnology Information in July 2008.
Intakes of Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Other Carotenoids and Age-Related Macular Degeneration During 2 Decades of Prospective Follow-up, published by National Center for Biotechnology Information in December 2015.
Vitamin B6 is associated with depressive symptomatology in Massachusetts elders, published by National Center for Biotechnology Information in June 2008.
Beneficial Aspects of Custard Apple (Annona squamosa): A Perspective Review, by Neha Patel, Tanya, Dr. Amit Kumar Dutta; published by International Journal for Research in Applied Science and Engineering Technology on 19 January 2022.
Dietary fibre in foods: a review, published by National Center for Biotechnology Information in June 2012.
Custard apple: Know the amazing benefits of this highly nutritious fruit, published by DNA on 6 October 2022.
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