How about trying something similar to slightly sweetened cooked egg yolk. Just bite into a ripe, yellow, nutrition- overloaded canistel and you will be in for a surprise. The taste of the meaty pulp is somewhat musky and very similar to egg yolk and hence its colloquial name “egg fruit”. Canistel (Sinhala – lavulu, Tamil [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

Canistel: Take a bite of yellowy, pulpy goodness

Continuing our series on healthy foods found locally

How about trying something similar to slightly sweetened cooked egg yolk. Just bite into a ripe, yellow, nutrition- overloaded canistel and you will be in for a surprise. The taste of the meaty pulp is somewhat musky and very similar to egg yolk and hence its colloquial name “egg fruit”.

Canistel: It's time to add this unique fruit to your diet

Canistel (Sinhala – lavulu, Tamil – lavul) is in a world of its own and provides a completely different eating experience in contrast to a majority of the world’s fruits that are juicy. The fruit is dry with only a few other dryer fruits. Even the dryer ones like banana are still fairly soft and easy to chew, but the consistency of canistel is extremely chewy, even chalky and little bits can stick to your teeth.

Canistel (Pouteria campechiana) is the showiest member of the family Sapotaceae. In Sri Lanka and other South Asian countries the species is grown in home gardens. The shape and size of the fruit is highly variable, depending on the cultivar. The better selections consistently produce large ovate fruit with glossy skin. The ripe fruit that varies in colour from yellow to orange tones can be consumed as a dessert fruit or can be processed into products such as jam, marmalade, milk shakes and pancakes. The fruit is also sometimes dehydrated and made into a nutritious powder or flour.

A super food
When it comes to nutrition, the fruit is particularly lavish with various nutrients and thus a real contender for being called a super food. It packs about 50% more energy than the banana and nearly as much protein as the avocado. Canistels are rich in carotene, B group vitamins and essential minerals. It is a low fat fruit that provides high levels of protein and fibre and fair levels of ascorbic acid. Canistel outstrips the glamorized carambola in every respect except in moisture, fibre content and riboflavin.

Loads of beta carotene
Just like all the other yellow-orange fruits, canistel is a rich source of provitamin A carotenoids. These carotenoids are converted into vitamin A in the body that controls various reactions of the immune system and directs and regulates cell growth. The fruit contains about 30mg of β-carotene in 100g of the edible fruit and is thus beneficial for good vision and is found to be effective for the treatment of dry eyes while playing an important role in lowering the risks of cataract and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The high carotenoid content is also good for the hair and skin. Additionally, carotenoids fight cancers, age-related degeneration, depression, headaches, heartburn, and high blood pressure.

Rich source of niacin
The high levels of niacin also called nicotinic acid (vitamin B3) found in canistel offer a series of benefits. In addition to supporting the conversion of carbohydrates into energy, niacin helps in controlling blood sugar levels, lowering cholesterol levels, detoxifying the body, producing sex hormones and producing hydrochloric acid in the intestine.

Niacin in the fruit also helps in the production of histamine, which has the ability to dilate blood vessels, thus improving blood circulation and helps in preventing high blood pressure, which in turn reduces the risk of heart diseases. The chemical substance niacinamide which is a constituent of niacin helps in improving the effectiveness of the oral drugs that are used in the treatment of diabetes. Due to the high niacin and niacinamide, cansistel is also considered good for treating osteoarthritis.

Great source of Iron
Canistel contains high levels of iron, a mineral that offers numerous health benefits. The most important function of iron is that it helps in the production of haemoglobin that aids in the transportation of oxygen to all parts of the body. Iron also helps to maintain the elasticity and tone of muscles and promotes good memory, stable energy levels and overall strength. The fruit is also highly recommended for those with heavy bleeding during menstrual periods and after childbirth.

High in minerals
As the fruit contains significant levels of minerals with 100 gms of the edible fruit containing about 25 mgs of calcium and about 40 mgs of phosphorus it is a natural remedy for treatment and management of arthritis. The fruit also helps in strengthening of bones in children, the elderly and those suffering from bone and joint related ailments.

Perfect for digestive health
Canistel is an excellent source of dietary fibre, making it a perfect fruit for improving the health of your digestive system. Fibre also helps in regulating the blood glucose levels and in eliminating the bad cholesterol from the body.

Immune booster
As a good source of vitamin C or ascorbic acid with about 60 mgs in 100 gms of the edible fruit, the fruit is known to be an effective immune booster and is thus a useful natural remedy for treatment of flu and coughs. Vitamin C moreover helps in reducing the duration of colds and also in reducing the risk of developing further problems, such as pneumonia and lung infections.

Anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial
The fruit contains the amino acids, lysine, tryptophan and methionine as well as stilbenes and flavonoids that have anti-tumour, anti-inflammatory, anti-HIV and antimicrobial effects. The ripe fruit helps in preventing and eliminating inflammation in the body and is eaten to soothe inflammation in laryngitis and pneumonia. The fruit is a natural remedy for clearing bacterial and fungal infections in the body when consumed regularly.

With such a load of benefits, if you are not yet a regular eater of this yellow overload, it is time that you thought of adding this nutritious and unique fruit to your diet. It will not only provide you with a range of nutrients and health benefits but will also give you a ‘back to the basics’ type of easy solution for protection against sun allergy and an improved complexion to keep your skin glowing like never before.

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