Health Benefits Of Chiku (Sapota)
Chiku from my garden
Little chiku flowers
Chiku : Introduction
Chiku is a tropical fruit. It has an uncanny resemblance to a kiwifruit in color and skin texture, except the chiku is slightly larger and without the hairy feel, but rough. The rounder variety which I planted does not look like kiwifruit except for the color. Chiku is spelt differently in different countries, but retaining the same pronunciation. Other names for chiku are sawo (Indonesia), sapota (part of India), lamoot (Thailand, Laos and Cambodia), sapote, sapodilla, zapote, sapoti, nispero, dilly, naseberry, chicosapote, and many other names. In Malaysia, we called it chiku. Its scientific name is Manilkara zapota.
The chiku is native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. It was first introduced to the Philippines by the Spaniards. Now the chiku is a common fruit in Southeast Asia, India and Pakistan.
The tree can grow to a height of 30 meters (100 feet) high. However a grafted plant can be controlled to a low height. I have one grafted chiku tree which is less than 10 feet high with controlled pruning. Take a look at the picture below. The tree is very hardy. I planted this chiku tree as a replacement for the rambutan tree which did not survive. I am completely satisfied with this chiku tree as it fruits easily throughout the year, although the fruits take a long time to ripen. The flowers are minute and white in color, not attractive at all.
Chiku tree in my garden
Chiku seeds with sharp spikes
Chiku fruit from my garden
The chiku fruit
The chiku fruit is not readily available in my location for whatever reasons. During my younger years, chiku was a plenty. Maybe it is not a particularly popular fruit. One reason may be the inconvenience of peeling the chiku skin. The chiku skin has a sticky substance and one needs to clean the knife with oil to remove the sticky sap from the knife. Another reason may be because of the peculiar taste of the chiku, although it is sweet.
There are two main varieties of chiku, the round type and the oval type. The round type is bigger than the oval one. Average size is slightly smaller than a tennis ball. As the fruit has a high content of latex, it takes a long time to grow and ripen. Usually the fruit is plucked unripe. However if it is too unripe, milky latex will ooze out from the fruit stalk when plucked.
The chiku is usually cut lengthwise because of the hard black seeds. While consuming the chiku, it is very important that the seeds are not put in the mouth, because in certain varieties, at the end of each seed is a very sharp spike that can cause serious injuries if swallowed. Take a look at the photo of the seeds on the right.
Practical Way : Cut The Chiku Crosswise
A More Practical Way To Cut Chiku
I have discovered a better way to cut the chiku without having the sap sticking to the knife. Without peeling the skin, cut the chiku crosswise just like cutting the kiwifruit. Then scoop off the flesh with a spoon. That's pretty cool, reducing lots of sap from sticking to the knife. Take a look at the photo on the right.
Chiku from my garden
Health benefits of Chiku
As with most fruits, chiku has lots of beneficial nutrients and minerals.
Chiku has a special compound called tannin which has anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic and anti-viral properties.
It has large amounts of vitamin A, vitamin B and vitamin C. Vitamin A is good for the eyes , strengthening eye vision. Vitamin B helps to overcome fatigue and stress. And everyone knows the benefits of vitamin C, chief of which is strengthening of the immune system.
Chiku contains lots of dietary fiber. Fiber helps prevent and also relieve constipation. Fiber also helps to maintain healthy weight and lowering the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Main minerals found in chiku are copper, niacin, iron, calcium, and phosphorus. Iron, calcium, and phosphorus are bone strengthening minerals.
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