Sapodilla (Chikoo) – Manilkara Zapota
Sapodilla is a tropical fruit, which is commonly known as Chikoo (also spelled as chiku), has a sweet caramel like taste and a sandy or grainy texture. The outer covering or the skin (peel) of the fruit is rusty brown in color. The inner juicy pulp is yellowish- brown in color. The tree grows 20 meters high and is long-lived. A very vast cultivation of sapodilla fruit (Chikoo) occurs in India and Philippines. Sapodilla fruit can be consumed whole or in the form of milkshakes, smoothies or it can be added to other sweet preparations.
Health benefits of Chikoo (Sapodilla)
This fruit may look small in size, but it is extremely healthy and is packed with an array of vitamins, minerals and other healthy promoting compounds.
Research has shown that sapodilla fruit is a rich source of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), vitamin A, thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5). It is a rich source of dietary fiber and contains minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium and potassium. Besides vitamin and minerals, Chikoo fruit also contains health-promoting compounds such as Isoflavones, flavonoids, polyphenols and Phytosterols. The presence of these nutrients in sapodilla fruit helps to reduce cholesterol level in the body, fights oxidative stress and protects against heart disease. (1)
Rich in Antioxidants
Increased oxidative stress in the body gives rise to a number of diseases and disorders such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, cataracts, ageing, and hyperglycemia and so on. In order to prevent the onset of oxidative stress, it is important to supply a huge amount of antioxidants to the body through diet.
Studies have shown that sapodilla fruit is very rich in antioxidants and the pulp of the fruit possesses a very strong scavenging effect. Furthermore, the peel of sapodilla fruit also possesses antioxidant properties. In addition to this, research has also shown that among all the tropical fruits, Chikoo fruit has the highest antioxidant capacity. It was further found that sapodilla fruit contains 24 different antioxidants. (2)
Abundant Source of Dietary Fiber
Research has shown that among all the tropical fruits and vegetables, sapodilla fruit is very rich in dietary fiber. It was further found that sapodilla fruit contains significant amount of lignin and cellulose. These two components are indigestible part of plant that escapes digestion in the small intestine. Thus, they provide satiety or a feeling of fullness.
In addition to this, sapodilla fruit can be beneficial for individuals with constipation or irregular bowel movements. The dietary fiber present in sapodilla fruit has water-holding capacity that provides bulk and volume to the stools, reduces pressure and helps in passing stool easily. (3)
Rich in Polyphenols
Polyphenols are chemicals that are found in plants sources such as fruits and vegetables. These polyphenols are extremely beneficial as they fight free radicals and provide protection to the cells and the entire body.
A research published in 2003 observed that sapodilla fruit contains 10 different Polyphenolic antioxidant compounds. Some of these Polyphenolic compounds have also shown to play a protective role against colon cancer in humans. (4)
Powerful Anti-Arthritic Agent
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease of the joints. Pain, swelling, tenderness, redness, stiffness and reduced flexibility are some of the common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. If rheumatoid arthritis is not treated on time, it may further lead to irreversible loss.
A research published in 2011 has found that sapodilla fruit prevents damage, reduces inflammation and plays a protective role against rheumatoid arthritis. Thus, in future, it can be used as a powerful anti-arthritic agent. (5)
Hypolipidemic Effect of Sapodilla Fruit
A recent research has found that sapodilla fruit helps to lower cholesterol levels. Antioxidants and polyphenols present in Chikoo fruit such as GALLIC ACID, CATECHIN, and EPICATECHIN help in inhibiting an enzyme called pancreatic cholesterol esterase. Inhibition of such an enzyme helps to lower the cholesterol levels. In addition to this, studies have also shown that sapodilla fruit contains ‘Phytosterols’. Phytosterols are plant sterols that are similar to cholesterol, which occurs in plants. These Phytosterols help in lowering LDL (unhealthy) cholesterol as well as total cholesterol. Thus, sapodilla fruit helps in maintaining a healthy lipid profile.
Heart Protective Properties of Sapodilla Fruit
A recent study has observed that sapodilla fruit contains a natural compound called ‘Quercetin’. Quercetin is associated with reduced risk of death from heart disease and it further decreases the incidence of stroke. It is a very well known fact that high levels of cholesterol are a risk factor for heart disease. As mentioned earlier, Chikoo fruit also helps in reducing the level of cholesterol in the body. Another compound named MYRICETIN present in sapodilla fruit strongly inhibits low-density lipoprotein oxidation. Such an inhibition further reduces the risk of heart disease (atherosclerosis). Thus, individuals can protect their heart and keep it healthy by consuming sapodilla fruit regularly.
Sapodilla Fruit may Promote Weight Loss
Being obese and overweight increases the risk of various diseases. Maintaining a normal body weight helps to reduce the risk of a number of diseases associated with obesity. Therefore, individuals who are overweight or obese should lose weight with the help of proper diet and exercise. Leptin is a ‘satiety hormone’ that passes signals to the brain to stop eating, in other words it gives an indication of satiety. Research has found that individuals who are overweight or obese contain high levels of leptin in the blood, that is, they are leptin resistant. However, leptin is present in large amount it fails to perform its job properly. Thus, obese individuals tend to overeat.
Research has found that consuming sapodilla fruit helps to reduce leptin resistance. In addition to this, Chikoo fruit helps to reduce storage of triglycerides in the fat cells. Furthermore, as this fruit contains high amount of dietary fiber, it provides satiety (feeling of fullness). Thus, sapodilla fruit can be included as a part of calorie restricted diet for weight loss.