I was first introduced to starfruit or as it is otherwise known - Carambola while visiting a friends farm in Kerala two weeks ago. A lone, fully-grown tree was giving us copious amounts of fruit and I soon fell in love with it. The word carambola is derived from the Sanskrit word karmaranga meaning "food appetizer". Star fruit was called carambola in the Malayalam language, and when the Portuguese took it to Africa and South America they kept the original name. It’s a bit hard to find to find in shops and markets but there are so many ways to source fresh produce straight from farmers these days. The whole fruit is edible and it is super sweet and tasty once it is ripe! It has a juicy, sweet, sour taste. You can turn it into a jam or a pickle if you’d like to store it for longer.
Each fruit contains on average 26.2 kcal, 6.2 kcal of carbohydrate, 2.5g of dietary fibre, 0.3g of fat, 3.6g of sugar and 0.9g of protein. Carambola fruit is an extremely low-calorie fruit that is rich in dietary fibre, vitamin A, B and C along with minerals like zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, iron and potassium among others. Moreover, it has high amounts of antioxidants like polyphenolic compounds, quercetin, gallic acid and epicatechin. This fruit is native to south and south-east Asia. So, what makes carambola so amazing?
It’s a rich source of vitamin C
A single starfruit could provide you with up to 52% of your daily requirement of vitamin C as well as 4% of your daily vitamin B5 requirement. Vitamin C has a wide range of positive effects on our health, and these include -
Boosting the immune system
Promoting healthy skin, hair, and nails
Increasing calcium uptake
Increasing iron absorption The highest sources of vitamin C are bell peppers with 193 mg of vitamin C per 100g, papaya has 140 mg and broccoli has 89 mg. The daily recommended intake of vitamin C is 40mg per day.
2. It’s anti inflammatory Starfruit is rich in Polyphenols - this can positively impact anti-inflammatory processes and can help repair cell damage. Polyphenols have also been known to help with type-2 diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity as well as reducing the risk of heart disease.
3. Antidiarrheal and boosts digestion The ripe fruit and fruit juice has antidiarrheal effects and is believed to help with a wide range of stomach ailments. Starfruit has been used in ayurvedic medicines for thousands of years. It is also known to stimulate your appetite. Starfruit is 80% water and hence it is a good source of hydration.
4. Rich source of dietary fibre Due to the fiber content and minimal amount of fruit sugars, star fruit is unlikely to have a big effect on blood glucose levels. Almost half of the carbohydrate content of starfruit comes from fibre. Eating a diet rich in dietary fibre will help keep your digestive system healthy.
5. Low calorie and super nutritious Carambola is super low in calories and has a high amount of dietary fibre. It contains on average 26.2 kcal and 2.5g of dietary fibre per fruit. It’s a whole food source that will give you an amazing amount of energy. This is important for people with diabetes and others who are looking to control their calorie intake. References
1. Manda H, Vyas K, Pandya A, Singhal SA (2012) Complete review on: Averrhoa carambola. WJPPS 1: 17-33.
2. Muthu N, Lee SY, Phua KK, Bhore SJ (2016) Nutritional, Medicinal and Toxicological Attributes of Star-Fruits (Averrhoa carambola L.) A Review. Bioinformation 12: 420-4.
About the author Lakshman handles planning and operations at BeAnimal. A free-spirit and dreamer since birth, he is on a mission to revolutionise the way we humans live with the natural environment. With experience in the natural sciences and a degree in Architectural technology and construction planning from VIA University, Denmark, he is well prepared to design a new wave of sustainable buildings for the world. He is interested in permaculture, sustainable technology, design, riding his road bike and almost everything in between. You'll find him out in nature enjoying the bliss.