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All fruits are packed with dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which is why the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the consumption of at least 400g of fruits and vegetables every day for the prevention of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and nutritional deficiency.

Of these fruits, chiku or sapota is very popular and widely available in India. This pulpy, brown fruit is naturally sweet and has a grainy texture. The fruit is only edible when it is ripe and is packed with all the fiber, vitamins and minerals that plant-based healthy foods have. What’s more, among tropical fruits, chiku is reported to have the highest antioxidant activity and is considered to be extremely beneficial for health.

Did you know?

Chiku is high in calories but has very low levels of fat and zero cholesterol. This combination makes it a high-energy provider while ensuring that your waistline or cholesterol levels aren’t added to. Chiku, as well as its seeds, leaves and stems, have also been used extensively in Ayurveda since time immemorial for the many medicinal benefits of the entire plant. Read this article to find out more about chiku.

Some basic facts about chiku:

  • Botanical name: Manilkara zapota
  • Family: Sapotaceae
  • Common name: Sapota, zapota, chiku
  • Sanskrit name: Vikkotam
  • Parts used: Fruit, stems, leaves
  • Native region and geographical distribution: Chiku is grown in many parts of the world, including India, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Mexico. The state of Karnataka is the largest producer of chiku in India.
  1. Chiku nutrition facts
  2. Benefits of chiku
  3. Side effects of chiku
  4. Takeaways

Chiku is a nutrient-dense food which is known to have the highest antioxidant content and activity among all tropical fruits. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the following are the nutritional facts for raw sapodilla fruit.

Nutrient Value per 100g
Water 78 g
Energy 83 kcal
Total lipid (fat) 1.1 g
Carbohydrate, by difference 19.96 g
Fiber, total dietary 5.3 g
Vitamins  
Vitamin A 3 µg
Folate, vitamin B9 14 µg
Vitamin C 14.7 mg
Minerals  
Calcium 21 mg
Magnesium 12 mg
Phosphorus 12 mg
Potassium 193 mg
Sodium 12 mg

Like all fruits, chiku is packed with essential nutrients like carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Studies, including one published in the Korean Journal for Food Science of Animal Resources in 2018, point out that the edible part of chiku has an exceptionally high concentration of antioxidants like ascorbic acid, carotenoids, quercetin, myricitrin, gallic acid and apigenin. This not only makes chiku extremely nutritious but also enables it to prevent and fight many health issues. The following are all the benefits you can get from consuming chiku regularly when it is in season.

Chiku aids weight loss

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is key for weight loss, which is just one of the reasons why including chiku in your daily diet may prove to be quite useful in your weight loss journey. You may wonder if a fruit as sweet as chiku may add to your weight and blood sugar levels, but the fact is that chiku is packed with vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium apart from a plethora of antioxidants - all of which can provide enough nutrients and energy to curb unnecessary cravings and keep you full for a longer time. What’s more, eating chiku instead of a sugary, carb-loaded dessert may help your weight loss goals.

Chiku improves immunity

Studies show that fruits like chiku are extremely nutrient-dense, which means they can not only help control inflammation in the body but also boost the immune system by providing sufficient amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants like quercetin, carotenoids and gallic acid. These antioxidants are known to be exceptionally effective in fighting off infections of all sorts, including bacterial infections, viral infections and fungal infections. They may also help keep chronic diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes at bay.

Chiku aids digestion

The fact that fiber-rich foods aid digestion is well known, but did you know that chiku is so effective in regulating bowel movements that Ayurveda recommends its use as a natural laxative and home remedy for constipation? Studies also show that consuming chiku can help the healthy gut bacteria perform vital processes called quorum sensing and quorum quenching, which aid the performance of digestive enzymes. This can help keep digestive disorders at bay. A study published in the Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences in 2020 suggests that consuming chiku may also help prevent diarrhea and peptic ulcers.

Chiku protects heart health

A study published in Toxicology Reports in 2019 indicates that both fresh chiku and its juice are packed with phenolic glycosides, which reduce oxidative stress and ensure that the blood vessels are clear of blockages. Chiku also helps control blood sugar and cholesterol levels. These properties combine to make chiku a heart-healthy food. Studies show that it can prevent heart diseases and may also reduce your risks of stroke.

Chiku may improve lung health

The fruit, as well as the extracts derived from chiku leaves, are considered to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the lungs. This is primarily the reason why Ayurveda supports the consumption of chiku when you have respiratory issues like cough, cold and chest congestion. The antioxidants in chiku also help flush out the toxins and harmful bacteria from the lungs, which is why consuming the fruit can help keep your lungs healthy. However, if you are thinking of consuming chiku leaf extracts then consult a doctor about the proper dosage.

Chiku may prevent premature aging

Chiku is packed with a plethora of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, all of which can improve the condition of your skin and prevent skin infection. Vitamin A, C and other antioxidants in chiku can internally slow down the aging process by reducing oxidative stress, inflammation and free radical damage. Consuming chiku may also have an anti-aging effect by visibly reducing signs of premature aging like wrinkles.

(Read more: Home remedies for wrinkles)

Chiku improves vision

Vitamin A, C, and other antioxidants like lutein are necessary for eye health and chiku is chock full of these. A study published in the journal PhytoKeys in 2018 clearly suggests that chiku fruit and other extracts from the Sapodilla plant are used to treat eye infections and eye disorders in the Indian subcontinent. Studies also suggest that consuming chiku may help prevent conjunctivitis and macular degeneration too.

Chiku helps maintain bone health

A diet lacking essential nutrients like calcium, copper, phosphorus and magnesium can lead to bone-related diseases like osteoporosis and arthritis. Chiku is packed with these vital nutrients and can therefore help prevent these diseases. What’s more, the antioxidants in chiku may also help relieve the pain and inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis. However, you must ensure that you consume ripe fruits as raw chikus may have antinutrient effects on the body.

Chiku benefits pregnant women

Chiku is not only nutrient-dense but also a fruit you can safely consume while you are pregnant or breastfeeding. In fact, studies have shown that consuming about 100 grams of chiku could help relieve morning sickness. The antioxidants in chiku may also help you fight off infections during pregnancy and ensure your heart is healthy enough to pump enough blood for two. Many women also suffer from constipation during pregnancy and may also develop hemorrhoids. Consuming chiku may help provide relief on both these counts too.

(Read more: Pregnancy diet)

Chiku may protect against cancer

A study published in Toxicology Reports in 2019 suggests that fruits like chiku are packed with antioxidants that can help preserve the mucus lining of the lungs and the respiratory tract while also ensuring renal health and function. This is the reason why chiku consumption is believed to reduce the risks of lung cancer, oral cancer, colorectal cancer and other cancers too. The fiber content of chiku also aids in keeping the bowels healthy enough to prevent colorectal cancer. However, more research is required to establish this link between chiku consumption and cancer prevention.

Chiku is a nutrient-dense fruit which has many health benefits to impart. However, excessive consumption of chiku may have adverse effects on your health. Chiku fruit ripens during a particular window of time during the year and consumption of this fruit is safest then. Consuming raw chiku may also cause health problems. The following are the key side effects of consuming chiku.

Chiku overeating causes digestive problems

Chiku is packed with carbohydrates and fiber, which add bulk to your food and regulate bowel movements. However, overconsumption of chiku may also cause diarrhea and indigestion due to the laxative effects of this fruit. What’s more, consuming raw chiku may also cause constipation, bloating and other stomach problems.

Eating raw chiku causes inflammation

Raw chiku is not only packed with fiber which is most difficult to digest but also contains antinutrients that can harm your ability to absorb nutrients. Consuming raw chiku can therefore cause malabsorption syndrome and also lead to allergies especially due to the latex present in raw chikus. If you consume underripe chiku accidentally and have symptoms like skin rashes, throat obstruction and other allergic reactions then consult a doctor immediately.

Chiku is a highly nutritious fruit that should be a part of your diet not only for weight loss but disease prevention too. The high vitamin, mineral and antioxidant capacity of chiku may help prevent everything from premature aging to heart disease. However, consuming raw or underripe chiku can cause harm to your health, and so can overeating this fruit. This is why you need to ensure that the chiku you consume is ripe. A simple method of doing so is by scratching the surface of the chiku. If you see a hint of green right under the skin then the chiku is raw and should be allowed to ripen properly.

Since chiku also spoils easily once it ripens fully, it is important that you consume them soon after buying. Refrigerating chikus can also help keep them safe for consumption for a few days. You can have chiku as a dessert replacement, in the form of shakes and smoothies or even fruit salads. However, while making chiku shakes or smoothies, do not add extra sugar as chikus are sweet enough already. Adding more sugar can make chiku shakes unhealthy.

References

  1. FoodData Central. United States Department of Agriculture. Washington D.C. USA; Sapodilla, raw
  2. Kumar, Pavan. et al. Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Efficacy of Sapota Powder in Pork Patties Stored under Different Packaging Conditions. Korean J Food Sci Anim Resour. 2018 Jul; 38(3): 593–605. PMID: 30018502
  3. Srivastava, Mrinal. et al. Sapodilla Plum (Achras sapota) Induces Apoptosis in Cancer Cell Lines and Inhibits Tumor Progression in Mice. Sci Rep. 2014; 4: 6147. PMID: 25142835
  4. Riaz, Muhammad Bilal. et al. Pharmacological and computational evaluation of Sapodilla and its constituents for therapeutic potential in hyperactive gastrointestinal disorders. Iran J Basic Med Sci. 2020 Feb; 23(2): 224–235. PMID: 32405366
  5. Ma, Jun. et al. Bioactive novel polyphenols from the fruit of Manilkara zapota (Sapodilla). J Nat Prod . 2003 Jul;66(7):983-6. PMID: 12880319
  6. Singh, PD. et al. Acute toxicity of seeds of the sapodilla (Achras sapota L.). Toxicon . 1984;22(1):145-7. PMID: 6719472
  7. Alrashood, Sara T. et al. Protective effect of lyophilized sapodilla (Manilkara zapota) fruit extract against CCl4-induced liver damage in rats. Saudi J Biol Sci. 2020 Sep; 27(9): 2373–2379. PMID: 32884419
  8. Rehman, Zahid Ur and Leiknes, TorOve. Quorum-Quenching Bacteria Isolated From Red Sea Sediments Reduce Biofilm Formation by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Front. Microbiol., 17 July 2018.
  9. DeFilipps, Robert A. and Krupnick, Gary A. The medicinal plants of Myanmar. PhytoKeys. 2018; (102): 1–341. PMID: 30002597
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