[Extracted from the web page of www.agriculturalproductsindia.com]
The custard Apple, also known as the bullock's heart or bull's heart, is the fruit of the tree Annona reticulata. The tree is a small deciduous ever green tree, which grows to an average height of about 6 meters. As a fruit of the tropics, the tree thrives in hot and humid conditions. It also occurs in many other parts of the world including Southeast Asia, Taiwan, India, Australia, and Africa.
The custard apple plant bears flowers on the mature branches. The fruits are generally round in shape and have a white and creamy flesh with an extremely sugary taste. The seeds of the fruit are lustrous black in colour, but are not consumed, as they are slightly poisonous in nature.
The fruit is available in a number of shapes like heart shaped, oblong or irregular. The size of the fruit varies from 2.8 inches to 4.7 inches. A ripe fruit often has a brown or yellowish surface with red highlights. The flesh is extremely grainy and sweet to taste.
Sitaphal or Custard Apple is a fruit rich in calories, and is a must have for those on a weight gain diet. Athletes and people indulging in other sports activities should consume this fruit regularly, as it gives an instant energy boost and also helps in restoring the depleted energy. It gives 104kcal per 100gm of edible portion. The fruit also has ample amounts of iron, phosphorous, potassium, and vitamin C. The edible portion comprises of about 3.1% fiber.
- Nutrients (Per 100 gm)
- Energy- 104 kcal
- Protein- 1.6 gm
- Fat- 0.4 gm
- Carbohydrate- 23.5 gm
- Fiber- 3.1gm
- Calcium- 17mg
- Phosphorus- 47 mg
- Iron- 4.37 mg
- Vitamin C- 37 mg.
- The fruit is extremely sweet to taste and can be eaten as it is. The pulp is easy to digest and can be consumed by people of all ages
- Often the pulp of the fruit is blended together with milk to make taste bud tickling milk-shakes, ice creams and puddings
- The fruit is often mixed with weaning mixtures and fed to infants
- The half ripe fruit is baked over coal fire and then eaten
- The pulp of the custard apple is also used to fabricate fermented drinks. The Alcohol, which is extracted from the fruit is called anocorin. It is said to have insecticidal properties and is thus used in various chemical preparations
- A kind of oil is extracted from sitaphal seeds, which is also used for similar purposes.
Custard Apple or Sitaphal as it is most commonly known in most parts of India is an Epic fruit having many medicinal properties. The fruit is rich in minerals like iron, phosphorous, calcium and riboflavin. Not just the fruit pulp, but other parts of the sitaphal plant are also beneficial in curing many ailments. Some of the medicinal properties associated with the fruit include the following:
- A decoction made from the leaves of the custard apple serves as an excellent vermifuge, i.e. it is an excellent remedy to expel intestinal worms
- The paste of the flesh of the fruit or crushed leaves of the plant can be applied on ulcers, boils and even abscesses for a soothing and curative effect
- The root and bark of the tree are often used as effective treatment against toothache. Many herbal concoctions meant to cure toothache have ample amounts of the bark and root of the custard apple tree
- The seeds of the fruit are also useful, as they have insecticidal and abortifacient properties, and are often used by farmers
- Regular consumption of the fruit is said to cure anemia. Sitaphal is also an excellent coolant, haematinic and expectorant
- A solution made from the bark of the plant may be used as an effective remedy to combat diarrhea and dysentery
- The leaves are believed to have healing properties and have been used against tumors and cancers
- The custard apple has a gamut of enzymes, which are believed to facilitate digestion
- The fruit is also beneficial for curing vomiting, diarrhea, dysentery and vertigo