Wood apple is highly valued for its medicinal properties. It is one such natural medicine, which provides no side effects, and one can consume it safely. Not just the fruit but also all the parts of wood apple plant have therapeutic value and are beneficial in the treatment of various ailments. In simple words, wood apple is the solution for almost every disorder. The best part about wood apple it that, its therapeutic properties and healing effect is similar to that of drugs but wood apple does not cause any side effects like drugs. Therefore, this medicinal fruit can be consumed safely.
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Health Benefits of Wood Apple
It is very well known that fruits are extremely beneficial for health and we should make fruits a part of our daily diet, but wood apple is just not like other fruits. Wood apple is a natural medicine that treats various diseases and disorders such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, cancer, diarrhea and dysentery, high cholesterol levels effectively. Each part of this plant starting from its roots to the wood apple fruit is valued for its medicinal value.
Let’s explore some amazing nutritional benefits of wood apple.
Rich in Phytochemicals
Phytochemicals are health promoting plant chemicals. A large body of evidence has found that the phytochemical content of wood apple is very promising. A high amount of alkaloids and a moderate quantity of saponins are present in the wood apple fruit pulp as well as rind. Alkaloids have shown to act as a spasmolytic agent, that is, it relieves spasm of the smooth muscle. It also has some anesthetic properties that causes insensitivity to pain and thus, helps in pain relief. In addition to this, saponins boost the immune system, lower cholesterol levels in individuals with high cholesterol, and reduce the risk of intestinal cancer. Polyphenols present in wood apple include:
- Tyramine derivatives
Polyphenols present in wood apple have also shown to protect against reactive oxygen species (ROS) and keeps oxidative stress at bay. Besides this, the flavonoid content of the pulp was also high. These flavonoids also protect against a number of diseases and disorders such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, cancer, heart diseases, arthritis, and cataracts.
Packed with Nutrients
Wood apple is a good source carbohydrate and dietary fiber. It is also found that the pulp contains appreciable amount of protein and low amount of fat. Furthermore, wood apple also contains various important minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus. It also contains vital vitamins such as beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A), thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C.
Antioxidant Rich Fruit
Research has found that wood apple possesses potent antioxidant activity and is very beneficial for overall health. Furthermore, it was observed that this fruit had a great free radical scavenging activity. Hydroxyl radicals are predominant and most highly reactive radicals that cause major damage to health. Antioxidants present in wood apple are so powerful that they can even scavenge hydroxyl radicals and protect the body against its harmful effect. Studies also found the consumption of such antioxidant rich foods is beneficial for the overall health, as it retards the progress of many chronic diseases.
Presence of Amino Acids
The presence of protein in a food is determined by the presence of essential amino acid in it. It was found that wood apple contains appreciable amount of protein. Amino acid present in wood apple include:
- Aspartic acid
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
Wood apple extract has shown to lower plasma glucose level in type 2 diabetics and this effect was similar when compared to anti-diabetic drug. Free radicals and oxidative stress have shown to play an important role in the aetiology of type 2 diabetes mellitus. It was also observed that wood apple extract reduced the level of free radicals and increased the amount of antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase and catalase in the blood stream and thus, prevented hyperglycemia.
Malondialdehyde is a harmful by-product formed by free radicals. The concentration of malondialdehyde increases in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus and it plays a major role in onset of diabetic complications. Wood apple has also shown to reduce the plasma levels of malondialdehyde and thus, prevents or delays the onset of diabetic complications. Therefore, it can be said that wood apple is an important fruit that helps to manage plasma glucose levels in the normal range.
Scientific observation has shown that wood apple possesses a very strong anti-bacterial activity against gram-positive bacteria such as staphylococcus aures, staphylococcus epidermidis, and bacillus subtilis and gram-negative bacteria such as proteus mirabilis. Besides the pulp, wood apple rind also possesses anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties. It was found that both pulp and rind inhibit the activity of various bacteria and thus, prevents the onset of diseases caused by bacteria and microbes. Such a property of wood apple pulp may be due to the abundance of polyphenols and flavonoids in it.
Diarrhoea & Dysentery
Wood apple has shown to have anti-diarrheal and gastrointestinal motility reducing activity. It has also shown to reduce the frequency of loose stools, the amount of stools and overall weight of stools. Thus, wood apple can be used as in effective remedy in the treatment of diarrhoea and dysentery. Besides this, wood apple is also useful in the treatment of hemorrhoids, gas, and flatulence, bloating and vomiting.
Scientific studies have found that wood apple has a bronchodilatory effect, that is, it decreases the respiratory resistance and dilates the bronchi and bronchioles. Such an effect helps in easy breathing and reduces the overall stress caused by breathing.
A recent study found similar effects of wood apple extract when compared to anti-asthmatic drug. Such an effect of wood apple is attributed to the presence of flavonoids, polyphenols, glycosides, saponins, tannins and alkaloids. Thus, it can be said that wood apple is as effective as drugs used in the treatment of asthma and individuals with asthma can consume it safely.
Carbon tetrachloride is a harmful substance that causes damage to the liver. It produces many free radicals and increases the load of oxidative stress thus, causing damage to the liver.
Research has found that wood apple fruit pulp helps to reduce the production of free radicals and reduces the overall oxidative stress. This beneficial effect of wood apple is attributed to its high antioxidant potential. Antioxidants present in this fruit scavenge the free radicals and reduces lipid peroxidation (a process in which free radicals cause degradation of lipid and thus cause damage). Wood apple improves the liver function and reduces the level of liver enzymes that are usually elevated during liver damage. Besides this, wood apple has also shown to restore the antioxidant enzyme levels and improve the overall health of liver cells.
High Cholesterol & Triglyceride Levels
High levels of cholesterol and triglyceride increase the risk of stroke and heart problems. It is found that wood apple is effective in lowering high cholesterol levels and its effect is similar to that of cholesterol lowering drugs. However, the best part about wood apple is that it comes without any side effects whereas cholesterol-lowering drugs have various side effects. Besides lowering the total cholesterol levels, wood apple also reduces the level of LDL – low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (unhealthy). In addition to this, the triglyceride levels were also lowered. Thus, it improves the overall lipid profile and reduces the risk of atherogenesis. Such an effect is attributed to the presence of –
- Dietary fiber
- Ascorbic acid
All these health-promoting compounds present in wood apple affect lipid metabolism, a process by which fat is either stored in the body or used as source of energy. In addition to this, dietary fiber binds the bile acid and throws it out of the body, thus reducing the total cholesterol level.
Wood apple has shown to have anti-cancer properties. Many anti-cancer agents are derived from wood apple that inhibit the growth of tumour, inhibit the cancer cell growth and prevent the spread of cancer cells to other parts of the body. Furthermore, it also prevents the multiplication of cancer cells, especially in case of breast cancer. The presence of flavonoids in wood apple has also shown to have anti-malignant effect. The presence of antioxidants has found to neutralize cancer causing free radicals. So many health-promoting factors found in wood apple makes it a perfect fruit to fight against cancer.
Boosts Immune System
Wood apple was found to stimulate the phagocytic activity of macrophages, that is, it increases the ingestion of foreign bodies, harmful materials and dangerous microorganisms in the tissues and blood streams and thus, protects the body and keeps infections at bay. It also enhanced the circulating antibody titer, that is, it increases the cells of the immune system. Furthermore, wood apple also increased the responsiveness of B and T lymphocytes (lymphocytes that participate in immune response). Wood apple is also beneficial for individuals with compromised immune system such as those with cancer, HIV and other diseases. Thus, you can boost your immune system and keep infections and disorders at bay by consuming wood apple daily.
Different Ways to Eat Wood Apple
- You can eat its flesh raw
- Make your own refreshing wood apple juice
- Replace your old-style chutneys with wood apple chutney
- Prepare some delicious wood apple jelly- children would love it
- You can also replace jams with wood apple jam
- Wood apple ice cream
- You can also enjoy a delicious glass of wood apple smoothie
- Wood apple milkshake is another great beverage
- Combine wood apple with other fruits and make a delicious fruit salad
How to Store and Effect of Storage on Wood Apple
- It was observed when wood apple is stored for a prolonged period, the consistency and viscosity of its pulp was not affected, but its taste reduced.
- The content of ascorbic acid reduces during storage due to oxidation.
- The content of calcium and phosphorus also decreases with storage of wood apple.
- Ripe wood apples can be easily and safely stored at room temperature. If you want to store them for a little longer period, place them in the refrigerator.
- If you need to store it for much longer period, remove the pulp and mix it with lemon juice. This can then be stored in the freezer.
Wood apple (botanical name LIMONIA ACIDISSIMIA) is a tropical fruit plant that belongs to RUTACEAE family. Other common names for wood apple are ELEPHANT-APPLE, MONKEY-FRUIT, CURD FRUIT, KAITHA, and KATH BEL. Wood apple plant is a slow-growing, deciduous, erect tree. Wood apple is spherical in shape with a diameter being somewhere around 5-12.5 cm. Its outer shell (rind) is greyish-white in color and is 6 millimetre thick. Its outer shell is very hard and difficult to crack open. This is the reason as to why, it is called ‘wood apple’. Its inner pulp is brown in color and has a sweet taste. Furthermore, the pulp is viscous and has a solid to semi-solid texture. Many tiny white seeds are also embedded in the pulp. Because its pulp is sticky and viscous, it is most often used to make jellies, syrups, drinks and jams.
The outer shell of unripe wood apple is greenish white in color and as the fruit ripens, its outer shell turns brown in color. Furthermore, when unripe the fruit’s pulp is pale gold in color. The outer shell hardens as it ripens. Wood apple’s flavour is usually sweet, lemony and acidic and it has a pleasantly fermented aftertaste.
History & Origin of Wood Apple
Wood apple is native and common in dry plains. It first originated in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. It grows well during monsoon and its tree grows up to 450 meter. Wood apple is resistant to drought and it grows well in light soils.
In India, it grows throughout the dry regions. Wood apple is abundantly found in Indian states such as Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and western Himalayas. Besides India, wood apple widely grows in Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and other parts of Southeast Asia.