Custard Apple (Sitaphalam)
Custard apple, a very sweet and delicious fruit was brought to India by the Portuguese in the 17th Century. Earlier these fruits were available only in Southern and few other parts of India like Chattisgarh. With the advent of Malls and Supermarkets,these fruits are now available all over India. Custard Apple is known as Sitaphalam in the local market. During the season these fruits are sold in cane baskets in Hyderabad. In fact there is a Fruit market named after the fruit called Sitaphal Mandi in Hyderabad, in which farmers used to bring their produce of custard apples loaded on carts to sell in the market.
This fruit contains white flesh which is very sweet and pulpy with many seeds. One has to just open the fruit into half and eat the pulp and spit the seeds. Though the job is little cumbersome, people eat the fruit for its taste and for its high nutritional value. This pulp is easy to digest. The pulp of this fruit is often blended with milk to make shakes, ice creams and puddings.
Custard apple is a very good source of calcium and a high calorie fruit which is good for those who would like to gain weight and is also good for athletes .This fruit is also believed to contain insecticidal properties and is used in various chemical preparations.
To check ripeness of custard apples, squeeze gently if it gives way slightly under your hand, it is ready to eat. Ripe custard apples give off a lovely sweet smell. Custard apples are never cooked; they are eaten fresh off the tree.
► Custard apples are abundantly packed with vitamin C an antioxidant that can combat the free radicals in the body.
► The fruit is good for healthy skin, better vision and for healthy hair as it contain good amount of vitamin A.
► The magnesium in this fruit can help relax the muscles and protect the heart from cardiac diseases. The rich content of potassium helps in regulating blood pressure, thereby maintaining cardiovascular function.
► The magnesium present in custard apples also helps to regulate the water balance in the body. This helps remove acids from the joints, thereby alleviating symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism.
► Custard apples are a rich source of energy. This helps in fighting fatigue and weakness. The potassium present in it helps in fighting muscle weakness.
► They have plenty of dietary fibre which is good for keeping the digestive tract healthy and aids digestion as well as prevents constipation.
► The pulp of this fruit is dried in the sun and consumed in powdered form to treat dysentery and diarrhoea.
► The paste of this fruit pulp is used as a balm to treat boils and ulcers.
► Custard apple acts as coolant, stimulant and expectorant.
► Even leaves of this plant are medicinally useful in a wide variety of diseases from tumour to cough. The leaves are known to have anti-diabetic properties. It is also known for its hepatic-protective powers and scientists have proven the efficacy of the alcoholic extract of the leaves and stem in malignant tumours.The leaves also act as antidepressant, in epilepsy and in spinal cord disorders.
► Even the bark of the custard apple tree, which contains astringents and tannins, is widely used in making herbal medicines.
► Fragments of the outer layer of the roots of this tree are kept around the gums to relieve from toothache and gum pain. Roots of the custard apple are very powerful purgatives and are also used in dysentery.
► Acetogenins found in the seeds of custard apple would actually help fight plant pests. The custard apple pesticide is inexpensive, environmental friendly and highly effective in preventing a variety of pests on a number of crops. The seed extracts also show synergistic activity in combination with neem seeds extract in pesticidal action.
By Nibhanapudi Suguna