Uses and Health Benefits of Sweetsop or Sugar Apple Fruit Trees
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
It is also rich in Vitamin B3 or niacin, an effective agent to increase the good cholesterol in the body.
Copper, the trace element that is crucial for thyroid hormone, is high in sugar apple to make it effective for thyroid control.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 and this sugar apple seedswebsite 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
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.
© 2012 Mazlan