Carambola is an edible fruit with sweet or sour taste. It is also called star fruit because of the star like appearance. The tree bearing carambola fruits, is known as carambola tree. The tree is native of many Asian countries like India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia.
The tree is cultivated in tropical and sub-tropical regions of various countries throughout the world. The trees are cultivated at a height of about 4000 feet from the sea level. The tree require high humidity and good sun shine for its growth.
The fruit grows throughout the year but the main seasons are April to June and October to December months when the yield is maximum.
It is a juicy fruit with silky skin and the whole fruit is edible after removing the small seeds inside.
There are many varieties of carambola fruits grown in different countries and all are good for human consumption.
The ripe carambola fruit provides 31 calories of energy in 100 gm. serving. It contains 6.73gm carbohydrates, 3.98gm. Sugar, 2.8gm.dietary fiber and 1.04gm. Protein with very small amount of fat at 0.33gm.
The fruit is a good source of vitamin C. In 100 gm. fruit we get 34.4 mg vitamin C (41% RDA), Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.391 mg. (8% RDA), folate 12 microgram (3% RDA) and small percentages of thiamine, riboflavin vitamin B6, choline and vitamin E.
The fruit also contains minerals, calcium 3mg, iron 0.08mg,magnesium 10mg, manganese 0.037 mg, potassium 133 mg, phosphorous 12 mg, sodium 2 mg, zinc 0.12 mg (all within 3% of RDA).
Carambola fruit is a good source of antioxidants, potassium, vitamin C and certain polyphenolic antioxidants. The fruit is very low in sugar, sodium and acid.
Health benefits of carambola
Carambola fruit contains a number of antioxidants. The phenolics and pro anthocyanidins present in the fruit eliminates the free radicals and carcinogenic agents formed in the body. If allowed to remain in the body, the free radicals lead to growth of damaged cells which causes cancer. The antioxidants by removing the free radicals prevent formation of cancer cells. The important flavonoids quercetin, epicatechin and Gallic acid present in the fruit are beneficial in preventing cancer. The fiber in the fruit clears the toxins accumulated in the colon and decreases the risk of colon cancer by protecting the mucus membranes of the colon.
The high amount of flavonoids and antioxidants in carambola fruit acts as anti- inflammatory agent. The inflammation occurring in the body due to damage of tissues by free radicals is cured by the fruit. Vitamin C in the fruit accelerates the synthesis of collagen by pushing out toxins and help the formation of bones and maintain the arteries and blood vessels.
Blood pressure and Heart problem
Being a low fat fruit, carambola is a healthy food supplement. Potassium and sodium are valuable electrolytes in the fruit. But high level of sodium will increase blood pressure. The Magnesium in the fruit keep the sodium in check and regulates the functioning of the muscles and strengthens them in general and particularly the heart muscles which are in constant action. Potassium also lowers the bad cholesterol and help remove the blocks in the arteries thereby preventing the risk of heart attacks. In addition, the fiber in the fruit is also highly beneficial to the cardiovascular system.
Enhances iron absorption
The high level of vitamin C in the fruit helps the body to effectively absorb the iron available through food intake. Even if the food is rich in iron vitamin C is essential to properly absorb the iron. Non absorption of adequate iron leads to decrease in haemoglobin and consequently anemia. By enabling and enhancing the iron absorbing capacity in the body, carambola fruit indirectly improves haemoglobin and prevents anemia.
The major portion of dietary fiber in Carambola fruit is soluble fiber. By absorbing excess water from the body the fiber promotes growth of beneficial bacteria and keeps infection of yeast under check. This improves the digestive power. The fiber also cleans the intestines and prevent gastrointestinal disorders. Moreover the folates, riboflavin and pyridoxine in the fruit enhances the metabolism and synthesis functions in the body.
The leaves of the carambola tree are also useful. The extract of the leaves are helpful in curing various types of tumors and ulcer.
The extracts of the leaves and roots of the tree are beneficial in improving breast milk in lactating mothers.
However these lack relevant experiments and research.
How to consume
Consume this fruit in whole with the skin after removing the seeds inside. You can also consume it in juice form or by adding the slices to salads.
Those with renal complaints should not consumpe of the fruit since the fruit contains high amounts of oxalic acid. This is an anti-nutrient which slows down the absorption and metabolism of minerals like calcium and magnesium.
The fruit interferes with medication for any other illness. You should always consume carambolas after proper consultation with a doctor if you are under any medication.