Uses and Health Benefits of Sweetsop or Sugar Apple Trees

Sweetsop or Sugar Apple tree is one of nature's wonder tree where almost all parts of the tree, from its root to the leaves and fruits, can be use either as remedy for certain ailments or eaten as food.

Sweetsop or Sugar Apple Trees

These trees are widely grown in the warmer subtropics such as China, Taiwan, Southern India, Queensland Australia, Hawaii and Vietnam and tropical countries such as Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Tropical America. It is a semi-evergreen shrub or small deciduous tree with size of up to 20ft (6 m) high. It thrives well in the low-lying area of many tropical countries, as it prefers its hot and relatively dry climate.

It is easy to grow from seed and from cutting. It adapts well to several type of soil and can be a good landscape tree.

The sweetsop or sugar apple tree
The sweetsop or sugar apple tree | Source

Sugar Apple Fruit

The fruit is shaped like a pinecone and almost similar to a hand grenade! The skin is rough with light green in color. Some varieties come in red color, which look more striking. The pulp is creamy white, which is tender and delicate. It taste like custard and usually eaten fresh or used as an ingredient for cakes, beverages and shakes.

It has a high carbohydrate and protein content and rich in vitamin C, vitamin B, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus.

To eat the fruit, it must be ripe and soft. You can eat it by scooping the pulp with a tablespoon into your mouth. Then while enjoying the delicious flesh, try to separate the seeds in the mouth and then spitting it out.

Alternatively, just break the fruit into half and enjoy the fleshy part.

Sugar apple taste better when served cold so place them in the fridge for at least three hours before eating.

Sugar apple however, is high in calories so it will not be too friendly if you are on weight management program.

 Flowers of the sugar apple or sweetsop or also known as custard apple tree.
Flowers of the sugar apple or sweetsop or also known as custard apple tree. | Source

Benefits from Various Parts of Sweetsop or Sugar Apple Tree

You can use all parts of sugar apple tree for treatment of certain ailments and the benefits come from the various chemical compounds present in the plant.

Sugar Apple Root

The root contains tannins, polyphenols, flavonoids, alkaloids, kamphor and anonain, which are all essesntials for the treatment of mental depression, constipation and back pain.

Sugar Apple Leaves

The leaves have oil that are rich in sesquiterpenes and terpenes, used in fragrances to give a woody spicy smell. The leaves also have a bitter taste and used to treat fever, cough, head lice, intestinal worms, ulcers, eczema and lower your blood uric acid level.

Sugar Apple Tree Bark

The bark contains borneol, kamphor and flavonoids; and act as a good astringent and tonic for diarrhea, wounds and dysentery.

Young Sugar Apple Fruit

The young unripe fruit contain tannins and used for treatment of indigestion and diarrhea.

Sugar Apple Fruit Seeds

The seed contain acetogenins and used to rid head lice, fleas, and insects.

Some varieties of sugar apple have a red skin that look more striking. this variety is called Red variety Kampong Mauve
Some varieties of sugar apple have a red skin that look more striking. this variety is called Red variety Kampong Mauve | Source

Benefits of Sweetsop or Sugar Apple from its Vitamin Content

Sugar Apple is also rich in vitamins and minerals; known to help ailments such as:

Asthma

The high content of Vitamin C will help prevent asthma. The potent antioxidants will help fight the free radicals in your body.

High Blood Pressure

The rich potassium level helps to regulate your blood pressure by controlling sodium in your body, hence keeping your blood pressure under control.

Cholesterol Levels

Rich in Vitamin B3 or niacin, it is an effective agent to increase the good cholesterol in your body.

Thyroid

Copper, the trace element that is crucial for the making of thyroid hormone, is present in sugar apple in good amount to make it effective for thyroid control.

Pregnancy Problems

In pregnancy, low folate level can results in premature babies and birth defects. It can also results in spinal cord defects or brain defects. Sugar apple has good amount of folate, one of the B vitamins.

Sugar apple is also rich in copper, which is required to form hemoglobin in the body, essential for pregnant women.

Sweetsop in Other Countries

In India, sweetsop is known as sita fruit as it has too many seeds and is related to a Hindu goddess. In Thailand, it is known as noi-na as it looks like a hand-grenade. In China, it is Buddha’s head fruit.

Sugar Apple or Sweetsop at a Glance

  • Scientific name: Annona Squamosa
  • Latin Name: Annona reticulate
  • Family: Annonaceae family
  • Origin: Believed to be originating from the West Indies
  • Other name: sweetsop, custard apple, bullock’s heart
  • Varieties: There are ten different varieties with different size and shape but similar in flavor
  • Tree: Height vary between 6.5ft - 20ft (3-6m)
  • Fruit: Diameter about 2.5 inch- 4.0 inch (6-10cm) Weight 3.5oz - 5.3oz (100-150gm)
  • Season: All year round
  • Propagation: Budding, seeds or grafting
  • Uses: Fruit eaten as fresh and to make beverages. Leaves, seeds, tree bark and tree roots for medicinal purposes

Other Uses for Sugar Apple Tree and Fruit - How to Use It

Hair Tonic and Hair Lice

In India, sugar apple is used as hair tonic and its seeds are grounded and used as tonic to rid of hair lice. Be careful when you do this as the tonic if gets in the eye can cause blindness. It can also be used against agricultural pest. Use it immediately as its effectiveness will not last long if kept for more than a few days.

Ulcers

If you have ulcers, take the sweetsop's leaves then wash and milled into powder. Add a bit of water and salt. Put this paste over your ulcer and bandage it properly. Change daily and do this it for about 2-3 days.

Cats and Dogs Flea

Crushed the seed and/or leaves of sweetsop or sugar apple and boil for about 5 minutes. Then strain the water and once it cools down, use it to bathe the cat or dog.

Intestinal Worms

If your children have intestinal worms, you may try this natural remedy. Wash and boil about 15 pieces of sweetsop leaves with 5 cups water. Continue boiling until you get about half of the original quantity i.e. about 3 cup. Strain the mixture and once cool drink three times daily. This will also work in adults suffering from intestinal worms.

Note: It is not recommended for pregnant women to drink this boiled sweetsop drink mixture.

As Insecticide

Extract of sugar apple dried leaves can act as insecticide for the prevention of mosquito breeding. In a similar manner, if you lay the leaves of sugar apple tree on your chicken coop floor, this will prevent any insect or lice to breed.

As Smelling Salt

The crushed leaves can act in a similar way as smelling salt and is useful for someone who is having fainting spell.

For Prayers

The Chinese uses sugar apple as one of their offerings on shrines and altars. This usually happens during festival like Chinese New Year.


Buying and Storing Sugar Apple

When you buy sugar apple, choose those that are almost round with big scales and yellow grooves. It should have thick flesh and smooth skin. For the red sugar apple variety, it should have bright pink grooves. Be sure to pick fruits that are not pest damaged, with spots caused by insecticides and without any ruptures. .

Sugar apple is ripe to eat if the skin feel soft when pressed gently. You can then put them in a food container and store them in the fridge and it can last up to 5 days.

Ways to Enjoy Sugar Apple Fruits

Besides eating the fruit fresh, try the following ideas and enjoy its health benefits as well.

  • Mix it with your breakfast cereal. For additional variety, try adding nuts and shredded coconut to the mixture.
  • Cut into small chunk then with a toothpick dip into melted chocolate. Once thoroughly coated put them in the freezer for the chocolate to harden. Then serve.
  • As filling to crepes by mixing one sugar apple pulp with 1/2 cup sugar, 2 large lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence. This is thoroughly mixed and cook over fire until you get a nice firm paste for the filling. As an option, you can add two tablespoons of brandy.

  • As a Popsicle: Mix 3 cups seeded sugar apple with 3 tablespoons of lime, 1 tablespoon honey, 6 tablespoon sugar and 2 teaspoon chopped cilantro. Mix them in a blender then pour in a Popsicle mold. Then insert craft stick and freeze for at least 6 hours.

Planting Sugar Apple Tree

You can propagate sugar apple tree from seeds and the seeded varieties are said to bear better fruits. If you choose to buy the plant from nursery, select a healthy tree.

Sugar apple tree loves the sun and you should plant them in an area that will give direct sunlight for at least 8 hours. It must have a well-drained soil and you must water them regularly.

Prune them only during the second year to promote its growth. It will only start to bear fruits after the third year but if it does earlier, remove these fruits to allow all nutrients to go to good growth.

If you do not have a large garden, then you can plant sugar apple tree in a big pot (10-15 gallon sized pot). Just make sure it has direct sunlight and you will be rewarded with delicious sugar apple fruits for years.

Nutritional Value of Sugar Apple per 100g

Minerals
Amount
Calcium
19.4-44.7 mg
Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
34.7- 42.2 mg
Carotene
5-7 I.U.
Iron
0.28-1.34 mg
Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
0.100-0.13 mg
Phosphorus
23.6-55.3 mg
Niacin (Vitamin B3)
0.654-0.931 mg
Magnesium
21mg
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
0.113-0.167 mg
Calories
88.9-95.7 g
Carbohydrates
19.16-25.19 g
Protein
1.53-2.38 g
Fat
0.26-1.10 g

Disclaimer

This article is for general health information only. Please consult your doctors for any medical related problems or before trying any alternative remedies.

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Comments 23 comments

greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 14 months ago from Malaysia Author

Hi Zaini. I was at the Sungai Buloh nurseries last month and there were a few nurseries selling Sweetsop/Sugar Apple trees. Try and check them out. Thanks for dropping by and the compliments.


Zaini 14 months ago

Wow, indeed great stuff. Fancy, though I love the fruit, somehow was unable to get to eating it. Apples, pears and oranges are more abundantly sold in our markets in Malaysia!!! Never heard of some of the uses you mentioned, especially as insects repellents. Any lead as to where I can buy a good reliable seedling here in Kuala Lumpur. Thumbs up to you. Good article.


greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 16 months ago from Malaysia Author

Hi Ilonagarden. In most cases, the reaction from someone who tried eating apple sugar fruit for their first time is, it is 'not a great fruit'. So, I am glad to know that you love it on your first bite! Thanks for dropping by and sharing your experience.

Freeproducts4you, I hope by the time I finish writing this reply, you have eaten the apple sugar fruit that grows close to where you live!


Ilonagarden profile image

Ilonagarden 17 months ago from Ohio

I ate these while visiting Brazil- they are delicious!


Freeproducts4you profile image

Freeproducts4you 20 months ago from UK

Even though I lived near lots of sugar apple trees, I never tried it. After reading your hub I think I better try it. Great hub.


greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 2 years ago from Malaysia Author

Hi Susan Recipes. It is not easy to find Sweetsop or Sugar Apple in the shop, but if you do, give it a try. Thanks for dropping by and commenting.


Susan Recipes profile image

Susan Recipes 2 years ago from India

Thanks for sharing so much information, I have not eaten this fruit.


greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 2 years ago from Malaysia Author

CyberShelley - That's right. Sugar apple tree is an amazing plant. I used the leaves as insecticide and have no more ants around the house now! Thanks for the visit and the votes.


CyberShelley profile image

CyberShelley 2 years ago

This is the most amazing plant, I have seen it before, but was not aware of its many uses. Fantastic hub, with wonderful information, Thank you! Up, interesting , beautiful and useful


greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 2 years ago from Malaysia Author

@Thanks Mel, if you live in California, I think you might find Sugar Apple fruit in the supermarket or Asian grocery stores


Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

Sounds like a complete, all around tree. I've never heard of this particular plant before, and your article was certainly informative. Great hub!


greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 3 years ago from Malaysia Author

Hi Celiegirl, thanks for dropping by and commenting. I am glad it had given you new information on this amazing sweetsop or sugar apple fruit.


Celiegirl profile image

Celiegirl 3 years ago

Thanks for all the new information and all that comes from the sugar apple.


Marta Dizon profile image

Marta Dizon 3 years ago

We are going on a cruise to the Bahamas this November. I read somewhere that the Bahamas has sugar apples. Does anybody know where to get them once in Nassau, Bahamas?


greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 4 years ago from Malaysia Author

@mizjo , good to see you back and thanks for sharing


mizjo profile image

mizjo 4 years ago from New York City, NY

@teaches2345, the sugar apple does indeed grow in the lower southeast and southwest coasts of Florida.


mizjo profile image

mizjo 4 years ago from New York City, NY

This fruit is very delicious when properly ripe. I could eat several at a go. With all the uses found for it, it is a fruit you should grow if you have a little plot of land with the right growing conditions. Interesting and useful hub, thanks.


greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 4 years ago from Malaysia Author

@Ed Tavares, yes you are right. It tastes better when it is fully ripe. Unripe fruit has higher tannin content that is why it tastes terrible!

@watergeek, same fruit is called by different names and it can be confusing. Thanks for commenting.


watergeek profile image

watergeek 4 years ago

Jeez, I had no idea sugar apple could be used for so many things. I just remember loving that sweet taste. I also didn't know it was the same as sita fruit in India. This was very informative, greatstuff.


Ed Tavares 4 years ago

The noi na is to soft wen is ripe,is no god wen in not ready is hard to heat and the flavor is nasty,try to heat the right way i'm 100% sure you will love it !


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

This is the first I have heard of this fruit tree. I am wondering it is grown in Florida as it would provide the tropical environment needed. It has so many benefits! Great post.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

Wow, I have never heard of this tree before! We don't have those in Western NY - it is too cold to grow those here. I really want to try one!


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

I've seen sugar apple trees in Thailand! We call them "noi na", I believe. I don't like the fruits that much because they're a little hard to eat and don't taste all that great. It was so interesting to learn that this plant offers so many health benefits, though. Thanks for the fascinating info :)

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    greatstuff profile image

    Mazlan (greatstuff)448 Followers
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    Mazlan wasn’t into health & fitness, but as age crept up on him, he realizes the importance & benefits of living a fit & healthy lifestyle



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