Health Benefits Of Chiku (Sapota)

Chiku from my garden

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Little chiku flowers

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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

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Chiku seeds with sharp spikes

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Chiku fruit from my garden

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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

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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

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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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Comments 6 comments

preweb profile image

preweb 3 years ago from UK

I like chiku, but didn't know the health benefits. Thanks for the hub.


Good Guy profile image

Good Guy 3 years ago from Malaysia Author

Hi Preweb,

Thanks for visiting and comment.


ajay 3 years ago

A well written article, i always thought that Chiku was indigenous to Asia...thank you for correcting that ..


Neelam 3 years ago

I would like to know how long does it take for the chiku fruit to ripen. How do we know when is the right time to pluck it . Very nice chikus from your garden


Good Guy profile image

Good Guy 3 years ago from Malaysia Author

Good evening Neelam,

Ideally when you pluck it, there won't be any sap dripping out. But then you can only know after plucking it. LOL. I usually slightly press the fruit, and if it appears not that hard, I pluck it. Most of the time there will be sap oozing out. That's ok. The fruit will still ripen in due course.

It takes many months for the fruits to grow to decent size. Once I think it is of reasonable size, I will start the pressing exercise.


Neelam 3 years ago

Thanks .Now when I go back to my farm I will press the fruit lightly. Hopefully it will get pressed. LOL. Thanks once again.

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