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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Rich in Vitamin B3 or niacin, it is an effective agent to increase the good cholesterol in your body.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
34.7- 42.2 mg
Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
Niacin (Vitamin B3)
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
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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