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Uses and Health Benefits of Sweetsop or Sugar Apple Fruit Trees

Updated on January 30, 2018
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Mazlan wasn’t into health or fitness but as age crept up on him, he realized the importance and the benefits of staying fit and healthy.

Benefits Of Sweetsop

Sweetsop or Sugar-apple tree is one of nature's wonder tree with most parts of the tree, from its root to the leaves and fruits, can be used either as a remedy for certain ailments or eaten as food.

Health benefits of sweetsop
Health benefits of sweetsop

Sweetsop or Sugar-Apple Trees

Sugar-apple fruit trees are widely grown in the warmer subtropics part of China, Taiwan, Southern India, Queensland Australia, Hawaii and Vietnam and in the tropical countries of Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Tropical America. It is a small deciduous tree but can grow up to 20 ft (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 seeds and from cuttings. It adapts well to several types 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 color. Some varieties come in red color, which looks more striking. The pulp is creamy white, tender and delicate, and tastes like custard. Sugar-apple fruit is 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 but high in calories.

How To Eat Sugar Apple

The fruit must be ripe and soft before you can eat it either by scooping the pulp with a tablespoon or just pull the fruit segment one by one.

Sugar apple tastes better when served cold so keep it in the fridge for at least three hours before eating.

Sugar apple flower
Sugar apple flower | Source

Benefits of Sweetsop or Sugar Apple Fruit Tree - From Parts of the Tree

The beneficial chemical compounds present in the plant are the reasons why you can use all parts of sugar apple tree for treatment of certain ailments and these are:

From Sugar Apple Root

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

From Sugar Apple Leaves

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

From Sugar Apple Tree Bark

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

Young Sugar Apple Fruit

The young unripe sweetsop fruit contains tannins and used for the treatment of indigestion and diarrhea.

Sugar Apple Fruit Seeds

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

Sweetsop aka Custard apple variety with a red skin that looks more striking. This variety is called Red variety Kampong Mauve
Sweetsop aka Custard apple variety with a red skin that looks 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 Vitamin C content and the potent antioxidants will fight the free radicals to help prevent asthma.

High Blood Pressure

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

Cholesterol Levels

It is also rich in Vitamin B3 or niacin, an effective agent to increase the good cholesterol in the body.

Thyroid

Copper, the trace element that is crucial for thyroid hormone, is high in sugar apple 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 result in spinal cord defects or brain defects. Sugar apple has a good amount of folate, one of the B vitamins.

Sugar apple which is rich in copper will form hemoglobin in the body, which is 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.

Other Uses for Sugar Apple Tree and Fruit

Hair Tonic and Hair Lice

In India, sugar apple seeds are grounded and used as a hair lice tonic. Be careful not to get in the eye as it can cause blindness. Use it immediately as its effectiveness will not last long if kept for more than a few days. This grounded sugar apple seed can also be used against the agricultural pest.

Ulcers

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

Cats and Dogs Flea

Crushed the sweetsop's seed and/or leaves and boil for 5 minutes. Then strain the water and once it cooled, use it to bathe the cat or dog.

Intestinal Worms

For children with intestinal worms, this natural remedy actually works. Wash and boil about 15 pieces of sweetsop leaves with 5 cups of water. Continue boiling until you get about half of the original quantity. Strain the mixture and once cooled, drink three times daily. This will also work for 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 an 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 useful for someone with a fainting spell.

For Prayers

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

Sugar Apple or Sweetsop at a Glance

  • Scientific name: Annona Squamosa
  • Latin Name: Annona reticulate
  • Family: Annonaceae family
  • Origin: Believed to originate from the West Indies
  • Other names: 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 is eaten fresh and as beverages. Leaves, seeds, tree bark and tree roots for medicinal purposes

Ways to Enjoy Sugar Apple Fruits

Besides eating a fresh, juicy slice, try the following ideas and enjoy its health benefits:

  • Mix it with your breakfast cereal. For additional variety, add 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 cooks over a 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 teaspoons chopped cilantro. Mix them in a blender then pour into a popsicle mold. Then insert craft stick and freeze for at least 6 hours.

Buying and Storing Sugar Apple

How To Pick The Right Sugar Apple

Choose sugar apple that is 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. Sweetsop that has spots are caused by insecticides and if there are any ruptures, it can be over-ripe or damaged during harvest or handling.

Sugar apple is ripe if the skin feels soft when pressed gently.

If you have to keep it for later use, place them in a food container and store in the fridge. It can last up to 5 days.

Plant Sugar Apple Tree

You can propagate the tree from sugar apple seeds and this website teaches you how to germinate the seed.

But if you prefer to buy the plant instead, then buy a grafted tree as it will be of a similar genetic identity of the parent plant, provided it is healthy and produces quality fruits.

Sugar apple tree loves the sun so, plant them in an area with direct sunlight for at least 8 hours. It must have a well-drained soil and water them regularly.

Prune the tree only during the second year to promote its growth. It will 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 don't have a large garden, plant sugar apple tree in a big pot instead (10-15 gallon sized pot).

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.

© 2012 Mazlan

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    • greatstuff profile image
      Author

      Mazlan 10 months ago from Malaysia

      Hi, Simone. That's amazing and I think it's a great idea to share this tip on how to select the perfectly ripe sweetsop by writing a blog? What says you? And if you do, give me the link and I will post it here on this blog.

    • profile image

      Simone 10 months ago

      Hi...I grew up in Jamaica and ate these fruits all my younger years. I was nicknamed "sweetsop bird" because I would know just which fruits were ripe and ready for the picking. My absolutely most favourite fruit! My siblings and cousins could not beat me to picking the perfectly ripe fruits. I would watch a tree daily if I knew its fruits were ripening. I am astonished however to learn that the seeds and entire tree has so may health benefits. Would have been useful to know this while living in Jamaica. Sooo wish I could have a tree here in Canada but its too cold to grow them. Memories.

    • greatstuff profile image
      Author

      Mazlan 13 months ago from Malaysia

      Hi Southth. You can refer to medicinal plants for dogs, cats etc at

      http://parasitipedia.net/index.php?option=com_cont...

      Hope this helps.

    • Southth profile image

      Southth 13 months ago

      Is it really proven that sugar apple leaves are used to kill dog fleas? What is your source?

    • Southth profile image

      Southth 13 months ago

      Hi Mazlan! Is it really proven that sugar apple leaves are used to kill dog fleas? What is your source?

    • greatstuff profile image
      Author

      Mazlan 2 years ago from Malaysia

      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.

    • profile image

      Zaini 2 years 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
      Author

      Mazlan 2 years ago from Malaysia

      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

      Ilona E 2 years ago from Ohio

      I ate these while visiting Brazil- they are delicious!

    • Freeproducts4you profile image

      Ruwan 3 years 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
      Author

      Mazlan 3 years ago from Malaysia

      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 3 years ago from India

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

    • greatstuff profile image
      Author

      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      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

      Shelley Watson 4 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
      Author

      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @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 4 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
      Author

      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      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 4 years ago

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

    • Marta Dizon profile image

      Marta Dizon 4 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
      Author

      Mazlan 5 years ago from Malaysia

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

    • mizjo profile image

      mizjo 5 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 5 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
      Author

      Mazlan 5 years ago from Malaysia

      @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 5 years ago from Pasadena CA

      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.

    • profile image

      Ed Tavares 5 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

      Dianna Mendez 5 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

      Leah Lefler 5 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 5 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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