Star Fruit Health Benefits You Should Know About
This tropical treasure, also known as carambola, hails from Southeast Asia, captivating with its unique star-shaped cross-section. Not just visually stunning, its flavor dances between sweet and tart, offering a juicy crunch in every bite.
You can enjoy its refreshing tang in salads, its subtle sweetness in jams, or even its savory twist in stir-fries. However, not just taste, this star-shaped fruit also comes with numerous health benefits and nutritional value which we will discuss further in this article.
What Is A Star Fruit?
Star fruit, also known as carambola is a tropical fruit native named for its star-like shape when sliced crosswise. The fruit has a thin, edible skin and juicy, crunchy flesh that can be sweet, tart, or a combination of both, depending on the variety and ripeness.
Starfruit is a good source of vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. It can be enjoyed fresh, cooked, or juiced. It comes in two main types: a smaller, sour variety and a larger, sweeter one.
Star Fruit Nutrition Facts
A medium-sized star fruit weighing 91 grams (g) contains:
- Calories: 28kcal
- Carbohydrates: 6.1 g
- Protein: 1 g
- Fiber: 2.5 g
Starfruit is rich in fiber, containing around 60% cellulose, 27% hemicellulose, and 13% pectin. It contains an impressive range of vitamins and minerals, including antioxidants such as vitamin C and gallic acid.
Also when seeing its vitamins and mineral profile, a medium-sized star fruit weighing 91 g contains:
- Potassium: 121 milligrams (mg)
- Vitamin C3: 1.3 mg
- Phosphorous: 10.9 mg
- Magnesium: 9.1 mg
- Calcium: 2.73 mg
- Sodium: 1.8 mg
1. Has High Level Of Antioxidants
Starfruit is a rich source of antioxidants, making it a valuable addition to a healthy diet. The key powerhouse is Vitamin C is abundant in star fruit, providing over 50% of the daily value per serving.
The anti-inflammatory properties of antioxidants in star fruit may help alleviate conditions like arthritis, psoriasis, and dermatitis. Although not as significant as other sources, star fruit contains small amounts of carotenoids like beta-carotene, which contribute to antioxidant activity and eye health.
2. Good Source Of Fiber
A single, medium-sized star fruit (around 91 grams) offers about 3 grams of fiber. This translates to approximately 10-12% of the recommended daily intake of fiber for adults.
The insoluble dietary fiber present in the fruit aids in digestion and promotes regularity. Also, the soluble fiber. Pectin promotes feelings of fullness and contributes to cholesterol management. It's important to consider the size and calorie content of star fruit and for its size and low-calorie count (only 28 calories per fruit), star fruit packs a good punch of fiber.
3. Helps To Reduce Inflammation
Starfruit contains flavonoids, which are plant compounds known for their anti-inflammatory effects. The flavonoids in star fruit such as quercetin, epicatechin, and gallic acid help in the prevention of inflammation with their inbuilt antioxidant properties neutralizing harmful free radicals.
Vitamin C, in particular, plays a key role in the body's immune response and can help to reduce inflammation.
4. Aids Digestive System
Packed with 3 grams per serving, star fruit's soluble and insoluble fiber duo works wonders. Soluble fiber bulks up stool and aids smooth passage, while insoluble fiber adds bulk and promotes bowel movement.
It also boasts over 90% water content, which helps soften stool and keeps things moving along. Early research suggests star fruit may contain prebiotics, good bacteria that nourish gut flora and contribute to gut health.
5. Inhibitory Effect On Microbes
Star fruit extracts possess antibacterial properties against various bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Salmonella typhi. These antibacterial effects are attributed to compounds like flavonoids, phenolics, and tannins present in star fruit.
Star fruit extracts have also demonstrated antifungal activity against common fungi like Candida albicans. This antifungal effect is mainly due to the presence of flavonoids and other bioactive compounds.
6. Skin Health
Starfruit helps protect skin cells from damage caused by free radicals, potentially aiding in reducing wrinkles and improving skin texture thanks to its rich content of Vitamin C. A single starfruit provides 52% of the RDI for Vitamin C.
Star fruit's high water content helps keep your body hydrated, which can indirectly benefit skin health by improving its plumpness and reducing dryness.
7. Promotes Weight Loss
Starfruit is a low-calorie snack, with just 31 calories per 100g serving, making it an excellent choice for those watching their calorie intake. Its 3 grams of fiber per serving promotes satiety, potentially curbing overall calorie consumption.
Furthermore, the fiber content, coupled with its high Vitamin C content, could modestly boost metabolic rate, facilitating calorie burning. Incorporating starfruit into your diet not only satisfies hunger but also supports weight management goals by promoting feelings of fullness and aiding in calorie expenditure.
8. Helps Improve Heart Health
A 100g serving of star fruit offers around 3% of the Daily Value (DV) for potassium as high potassium intake is associated with a reduced risk of stroke and heart disease. This mineral plays a vital role in regulating blood pressure, which can significantly impact heart health.
Also, 3 grams of fiber per serving can help lower cholesterol levels by binding to and removing LDL ("bad") cholesterol from the bloodstream. This can contribute to a reduced risk of atherosclerosis, a condition that hardens and narrows arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
9. May Aid In Blood Sugar Control
Starfruit has a relatively low glycemic index (GI), meaning it doesn't cause significant spikes in blood sugar levels. This makes it a potentially beneficial fruit for people with diabetes or prediabetes.
Studies suggest that the fiber and antioxidants in star fruit may help improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control.
10. Keeps You Hydrated
Starfruit, or carambola, stands out as a hydrating fruit due to its high water content, aiding in hydration. Incorporating this fruit into your diet, particularly in warm weather or post-exercise, can support hydration needs.
Moreover, starfruit is abundant in vitamins and minerals, enhancing its nutritional value and contributing to overall health and well-being. With its refreshing properties and nutrient density, starfruit proves to be a beneficial addition to a balanced diet for maintaining optimal hydration and nourishment.
11. Improves Vision And Eye Health
Starfruit can contribute to eye health due to its rich content of vitamins and antioxidants. Specifically, it contains vitamin C, which is essential for maintaining healthy eyes and may help prevent age-related macular degeneration, a common cause of vision loss.
Additionally, it contains other antioxidants like beta-carotene, which can also support eye health by protecting the eyes from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals.
Safety And Side Effects
While star fruit offers some great health benefits, it's crucial to be aware of its potential safety concerns and side effects. For individuals with healthy kidneys, consuming star fruit in moderation (around 1-2 fruits per day) is generally considered safe. However, people with pre-existing kidney disease or impaired kidney function are unable to adequately process caramboxin.
This can lead to severe neurological symptoms and even death. If you have any kidney problems, avoid consuming star fruit altogether. Similar to grapefruit, star fruit may interact with certain medications, potentially altering their absorption or effectiveness. Consult your doctor or pharmacist before consuming star fruit while taking any medications.
How To Eat Star Fruit?
Eating star fruit is quite simple! Here's a basic guide:
Look for yellow skin with minimal green areas and no brown spots. Avoid unripe fruit as it has a higher carambola content.
Rinse the fruit under running water to remove any surface dirt or contaminants.
Lay the star fruit horizontally on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, slice it crosswise into star-shaped slices. Each slice will have a distinctive star shape.
Check each slice for any seeds, as some varieties may have seeds. You can remove them with the tip of the knife if desired, though some people eat them without issue.
Once sliced and prepared, you can enjoy star fruit slices as they are. They have a crisp texture and a unique sweet-tart flavor that's often compared to a combination of apple, pear, and citrus.
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