Monday, November 29, 2021

Article Index

Custard Apple

Fruiticious Packaging

Dr A.P. George,
Agri-science Queensland,
Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation,
Maroochy Research Station, Nambour,
PO Box 5083, SCMC, Nambour, Australia 4560

Prepared February 2010

Technical Summary

  • The custard apple grown in Australia is a hybrid of the sugar apple (Annona squamosa) and the cherimoya (Annona cherimola).  More recently, hybrids have also been developed with Annona reticulata.  For centuries, Ayurvedic practitioners in India have extensively use various parts of the sugar apple (Annona squamosa) tree for the management of diabetes.  Similarly, Inca tribes in the Peruvian Andes have used cherimoya (Annona cherimola) as a medicinal plant.
  • The custard apple is a very sweet (up to 28% sugar) and aromatic fruit.  It contains significant quantities of vitamin C, thiamine, potassium, magnesium and dietary fibre.  Despite its high sugar content, the glycemic index of custard apple is low (54) and the glycemic load moderate (10.2).
  • Custard apple appears to possess potent bioactive principles in most of its plant parts (fruit, seed and leaves).  In this review, we present only the bio-activities of the fruit pulp.  Based on in vitro and in vivo testing, custard apple fruit exhibit potent anti-diabetic, anti-obese, anti-microbial and anti-cancer properties.
  • In Okinawan longevity studies, custard apple was identified as one of the few foods with anti-obese activity.  In animal studies, it reduced abdominal fat tissue by about 20%.
  • Aqueous extract of fruits of Annona reticulata were shown to be highly protective against chemical induced heart damage of rats.  In animal studies, custard apple fruit have been shown to reduce total cholesterol by 46%, triglycerides by up to 65% and the triglyceride/HDL ratio, a major predictor of heart disease in humans by half.
  • In anti-diabetic studies on animals, custard apple appears to mimic insulin stimulating its production and enhanced uptake of glucose by muscles leading to stabilisation of blood sugar concentrations.
  • Animal studies have shown that feeding sugar apple (Annona squamosa) pulp increased haemoglobin levels by up to 21%.  This response, if translated to humans, could provide a significant boost to athlete performance.
  • In vitro studies have shown that the fruit of Annona spp. have significant anti-microbial activities against a range of serious pathogens.
  • Currently the Annonaceae remain a "hot' family for the discovery of new anti-cancer drugs.  Custard apple contains a class of chemicals called acetogenins, which are very long chain fatty acids, and only found in Annonaceous species.  In vivo testing has shown that bullatacin, an acetogenin found in custard apple, to be 300 times more potent than Taxol (paclitaxel), a standard anti-cancer drug.
  • Limited human clinical testing trials are being conducted on the closely related Annonaceous species Asimina triloba (North American pawpaw) at the Nevada Cancer Clinic in the USA (visit site for details).  Early findings appear promising.
  • Few fruits or foods possess the wide range of bioactivity exhibited by custard apple fruit and potentially it appears to be equal or even greater other superfruits such as blueberry.  Custard apple fruit can be processed into a range of health products from purees to cereal flakes to spray-dried powder.  Processed products may have a higher concentration of bioactive chemicals. 
  • Even though there have been limited animal and human studies, custard apple appear to be have excellent health and medicinal benefits which deserve to be further explored.

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