Sapota is my kid's favorite fruit because her favorite cartoon character likes to eat sapota. As the word "sapota" enters our ear, we have the refreshing flavor of sapota or sapota shake in our mouth. But there are people who don't prefer to eat sapota when provided with the option of some other fruits. The question that clicks to our mind is why should we encourage our kids to eat sapota? Is this fruit really beneficial? Let's add some information to our knowledge bank about this fruit.
Sapota is also known as chikoo ("चिक्कू" or chiku, "चीकू,") in some parts of India (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh), sapathilla or rata-mi in Sri Lanka, sobeda / sofeda in eastern India and Bangladesh. It is believed that it is originated in the Central American rain forests, probably in Mexico and Belize and now has spread all over the tropical belt and is being grown as a major commercial crop in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Sapota has the appearance of a round smooth skinned potato. It has a pale yellow to an earthy brown color flesh and contains two-five seeds. The texture is soft and grainy, made up of easily digestible pulp. The fruit has an exceptionally sweet and malty flavor. This is a delicious tropical fruit, rich in vitamins, minerals and health benefiting anti-oxidants. The unripe fruit is hard to the touch and contains high amounts of saponin, which has astringent properties similar to tannin causes drying of mouth.
It's one of nature's "happy" foods, like kiwi. High activity level in kids leads to high energy requirements. This fruit is an instantaneous energy source as it contains simple sugars like fructose and sucrose. These sugars replenish energy and revitalize the body instantly. It is very good to eat sapota during pregnancy as it helps to prevent morning sickness. Because of the electrolytes in it, the nervous system functions are boosted, and it also helps to give a feeling of well-being. It also helps in collagen production and helps in skin rejuvenation; so sapota is good at slowing the aging process of the skin and can help prevent the formation of deep wrinkles.
Fiber is a key part of a good nutrition. Dietary fiber in sapota makes it a good laxative. The fiber content helps to relieve constipation and reduces the risk of piles. It protects the mucous membrane of the colon from cancer causing toxins by firmly binding to them and is excreted out.
Although not a good source but it contains vitamin A and vitamin C. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps to develop resistance against infectious agents. This vitamin is very essential and protects bones, teeth and gums. It can be used to cure scurvy and also offers resistance to infections in the body. Collagen cannot be synthesized without its support.
Vitamin A is referred to be a vitamin for growth and body repair. Sapota also contains this antioxidant vitamin, which is good for maintaining healthy vision, mucus membranes and skin. Vitamin A has also been known to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
Fresh ripen sapota is good source of minerals like potassium, copper, iron and vitamins like folate, niacin and pantothenic acid. These compounds are essential in various metabolic processes in the body as cofactors for the enzymes.
The fruit is rich in antioxidant poly-phenolic compound tannin. Tannins are a complex family of naturally occurring polyphenols that neutralize acids by precipitating proteins. These tannins have potential anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-bacterial, and anti-parasitic effects. Because of the tannin content, young fruits are boiled and the decoction taken to stop diarrhea.
The anti-inflammatory effect of tannins also limits conditions like erosive gastritis, reflux-esophagitis, enteritis, and irritating bowel disorders.
An infusion of the young fruits and the flowers is drunk to relieve pulmonary complaints.
The crushed seeds have a diuretic action and are claimed to expel bladder and kidney stones.
A paste of the seeds is applied on stings and bites from venomous animals.
The latex is used in the tropics as a crude filling for tooth cavities.
Medical Disclaimer: Raw sapodilla fruits are high in latex and tannins and intensely bitter in taste. Eating unripe fruits may cause mouth ulcers, raw sensation in the throat, and breathing difficulty, especially in the children.