Custard apple a.k.a. sitaphal, sharifa or ataphal, is a tropical fruit with worldwide popularity due to its delicious flavour and high nutritional content.
An average custard apple usually weighs around 250 g and is of conical or heart shape. It has a green outer covering with bumpy texture. The inner flesh is white and creamy with scattered seeds. They are rich in nutrients, high on calories (about 250) but with a moderate glycemic index.
Nutrition facts of 100 g of custard apple:
- Calories: 100
- Water: 75 g
- Fat: 0.6 g
- Sugar: 15 g
- Dietary fibre: 3.5 g
- Carbohydrate: 23.71 g
- Protein: 1 to 4.3 g
- Iron: 0.7 mg
- Calcium: 20 mg
Health benefits of custard apple:
- Boosts immunity: Custard apples are excellent sources of Vitamin C that help in building immunity. They are also great anti-inflammatory agents and help against autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. One serving of custard apple helps eliminate free radicals in the body, which act as precursors to various infectious diseases.
- Re-energises: Custard apples provide instant energy upon consumption due to high carbohydrate content. It also fights fatigue and eliminates muscle weakness.
- Makes the heart healthier: Custard apple has fine balance of sodium and potassium, which helps in controlling blood pressure fluctuations in the body. Its high levels of magnesium relax the muscles of the heart, thereby preventing heart attacks. Niacin and fibre prevents the absorption of cholesterol by the body.
- A rich iron source: High iron content prevents/cures anaemia.
- A better digestive system: It is unusually helpful in treating digestion related ailments. It removes toxins from the body and ensures a proper bowel movement. It prevents acidity, ulcer, gastritis and heartburn. An unripe, dried and crushed custard apple can be used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery. The dietary fibre in custard apple helps relieve constipation as well.
- Anti-cancerous properties: Custard apple contains cancer-preventing compounds like acetogenin and alkaloids, which act against cancer cells without affecting the healthy cells. It is also full of anti-oxidants which further ward off cancer risk.
- A happier brain: Custard apples are rich in B complex vitamins, which help in fighting depression and stress. Vitamin B6 diet also fights skin problems, sore tongue, convulsions and depression.
- Excellent source of copper. It is a trace mineral, which helps the body to form haemoglobin. Pregnant women need 1000 micrograms of copper each day for proper development of the foetus. Low levels of copper in the body can lead to premature birth. Consuming custard apple during pregnancy is very healthy.
- Stronger bones and joints: Magnesium in custard apples balances the water content in the body and rids the joints of acids, reducing symptoms of rheumatism and arthritis. It also contains moderate amount of calcium, which strengthens bones.
- Boon for the skin and hair: It has good quantities of vitamin A and C, which helps in attaining healthy and glowing hair and skin.
An important thing to keep in mind is that although custard apples are a great source of various nutrients they should be consumed in moderation due to high calorie content.
In Thailand custard apples and hand grenades have the same name due to their similarity in shapes, whereas, in China they are referred to as Buddha’s head fruit because of its seeming resemblance to the head of Buddha.
How to eat custard apple?
Ripe custard apples are soft and squishy. Avoid ones that are over ripe because they are a little brownish. In case you end up buying an unripe one, just leave it at room temperature for a few days and it will ripen on its own.
Healthy Custard Apple Smoothie Recipe
Preparation: 5 min
- 1/2 ripe custard apple
- 1 cup skimmed milk or low fat yogurt
- 2 tsp lime juice
- Halve the custard apple, remove the seeds and spoon out the flesh
- Place the custard apple flesh, milk/curd and lime juice in a blender and blend until smooth
- Chill for 30 minutes, give it a stir and serve