The custard apple, popularly known as sitaphal, is a fruit extensively consumed during the winter. In fact, this fruit is synonymous with the cold, chilly weather in India. Custard apple is profoundly used in preparing desserts, shakes, and ice creams. This fruit incentivizes many health and wellness benefits, such as glowing skin, boosting immunity, and diabetes management.
This fruit has various names and is known as sitaphal in Hindi and Telugu, Sharifa in Punjabi, and seethapazham in Malayalam. It has certain other names in English such as sugar apple, cherimoya, and sweetsop. Biological names are different and based on the varieties, it is termed Annona squamosa, Annona cherimola, and Annona reticulate.
Typically, a custard apple plant grows to a height of 5 to 9 feet and bears humongous green-coloured leaves and yellow-coloured flowers, forming the shape of a trumpet. The fruits are oblong in shape and green or brown in colour. Once matured or ripened, the custard apple has many black seeds and delivers a sweet and fragrant flavour in its pulp.
Custard apple offers vast quantities of carbohydrates and sugar for an immediate energy boost. The unhealthy and saturated fat content is pretty low and it is an abundant source of essential dietary fibre. In addition to this, the fruit also carries important nutrients and antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, copper, necessary carotenoids, and flavonoids. As the saying goes, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away,” similarly with a custard apple, you can bolster your immune system and keep a check on diseases.
Natively grown in South America and Asia, the custard apple portrays an innate ability to resist drought, flourishing in extreme climatic conditions and rock-structured soil. This quality when teamed up with its inherent nutritional qualities and the plethora of advantages offered to health makes it first in the race to tackle malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies.
Health benefits of consuming custard apple
Although high in calories, custard apple provides glucose and fructose, simple sugars needed for the body’s energy sustenance. Also being a rich source of iron, it helps in eliminating anaemia and relieves the body from lethargy.
Treats skin conditions
Custard apple has a treasury of nutrients that are skin-enriching. Vitamin B5, vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc, and copper work in synchronization to offer relief from acne, allergies, abscesses, and other sorts of typical skin ailments.
Medical research has revealed that the acetogenin compounds found in custard apples have immaculate cancer-reversing properties. Consuming custard apples on regular basis averts tumours and inflammation.
In addition to the low glycemic index of the fruit, custard apple is blessed with polyphenols. These are antioxidants that majorly propagate insulin production and glucose absorption, thereby keeping check and control of diabetes.
Stimulates brain functioning
The vitamin B6 component in custard apples stimulates the brain. This further helps in strengthening nerve functionality, elevating the levels of concentration, reducing depression, and lifting up moods.
Improves heart rate
Consisting of brilliant levels of unsaturated fats and omega-6 fatty acids, custard apple works brilliantly in strengthening the heart system. To add to this, custard apple gives relief from hypertension as well.
Augments the immune system
The vitamin C present in the custard apple helps in flushing out the free radicals and toxins from the body. It also creates a health shield to bar the entrance of harmful microbes and diseases into the body.
Custard apple actively enhances the metabolism and thus ensures the conversion of food into energy at the optimum level. The plethora of dietary fibres present in the fruit aids in satisfying those unwanted, untimely cravings and ensures the absorption of nutrients seamlessly. This results in a smooth digestive process.
But are custard apples always good for you?
That requires reasonable pondering! We all are aware that custard apples are rich in calories, they do well in terms of aiding weight loss and metabolism but only when consumed moderately. Too much custard apple on a regular basis without any check can otherwise result in unhealthy weight gain and surplus body fat. If seeds are eaten unknowingly, this might result in serious complications pertaining to redness of the skin, allergies, and damage to the eyes. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the outer ring and the seeds are discarded properly before consumption in order to avoid any side effects.
Apart from their extensive use in conventional Indian sweets, custard apples are also rewarded for their admirable nutritional value. A perfect blend of calories, sugar, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they are a wellspring of good health. Incorporation of the custard apple into your regular diet will ensure that you reap the benefits of this marvellous fruit towards many health benefits.