Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Article Index

3.0 Research Into The Health Benefits Of Custard Apple

Compared with the major fruit and vegetables crops, the health and medicinal benefits of custard apple have been poorly researched presumably because they are less commonly known fruits.  With Annona spp., over 600 research papers have been published.  Most papers have been published in the last ten years.  Most of the medicinal research conducted on Annona spp. has concentrated on its anti-cancer properties due to a class of compounds called acetogenins which are specific to various plant organs of Annonaceae.

4.0 Scope Of The Review

The health and medicinal properties of Annona spp. hybrids has been previously reviewed by George et al. (2006).  A collection of over 600 references has been catalogued and held by Agri-research Queensland (George et al., 2006).  

This shorter review restricts itself to the health and medicinal benefits of the custard apple fruit and not to other plant organs of this species even though the leaves or seed have also been shown to possess significant bioactivity.  Because custard apple is a hybrid between several species viz. Annona squamosa, Annona cherimola and Annona reticulate, we have reviewed findings for each of these three species individually as well as for the hybrids.

5.0 Historical/Ethno-Botanical Perspective

Annona species have been widely grown throughout Central and South America.  The fruits of cherimoya are native to the subtropical regions of Peru and Ecuador and are grown at elevation of 800-1200 metres.  Images of the fruit are depicted on the pottery of the Inca tribes in the Andean mountains in these countries (Bonavia et al. 2004).  Various parts of the tree were used for health and medicinal purposes (Pinto et al., 2005).  In India, Ayurvedic practitioners have intensively used the young leaves of sugar apple (Annona squamosa) for the management of diabetes (Atique et al., 1985; Topno, 1997). 

6.0 Nutritional Composition

Custard apples are usually consumed as dessert fruit.  The fruit is rich in starch when firm but increases markedly in sugar as it softens.  The main sugars are glucose and fructose (80-90%).  Compared with other fruits, custard apple fruits contain significant quantities of vitamin C, thiamine, potassium, magnesium and dietary fibre (Table 1).  The calorific value is high (300-450 kJ per 100 g) and is almost double that of peach, orange and apple.

Nutrient composition of custard apple (Annona spp. hybrids) per 100g of ripe fruit. (Various sources: Leung and Flores, 1961; Wenkam, 1990; USDA, 2002; Janick and Paull, 2006).

Proximate   Minerals   Vitamins  
Water (%) 70-80 Calcium 10-25mg ascorbic acid 10-300mg
Energy Kcal 95-110 Iron 0.3-0.6mg thiamin 0.05-0.11mg
             KJ 300-450 Magnesium 21-32mg riboflavin 0.07-0.11mg
Protein (%) 1.0-2.0 Phosphorus 20-40mg niacin 0.8mg
Lipid (fat) (%) 0.3-0.6 Potassium 250mg vitamin A 0-6IU
Sugar (%) 18.0-24.0 Sodium 4.5-9mg vitamin B6 0-0.2mg
Fiber (%) 0.05-4.5     vitamin E 0.6mg
Ash (%) 0.4-0.8     panthothenic acid 0.2mg

However, despite its high sugar content the glycemic index of custard apple is low (54) and the glycemic load moderate (10.2) (Brand-Miller et al., 2003).

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