Ambarella, truly golden | Daily News


Ambarella, truly golden

Ishara Jayawardane

So many names numbering almost over 50 with so many health benefits, found and grown extensively throughout the old world and new world, Ambarella is a fruit that has become a favorite amongst these people of Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas, including North America, Central America and South America. Green Thumbs speaks to Institute of Indigenous Medicine, Department of Dravyaguna Vignana, Senior Lecturer, Dr. S. D. Hapuarachchi on the Ambarella also known as the Golden apple.

It is used as a fruit and a vegetable in many cultures including Sri Lanka. In fact in Sri Lanka it is a popular lunch time or dinner time food item. The Ambarella curry and the Sweet and Spicy Ambarella are some of the best loved recipes and are cooked throughout the island nation.

“The Ambarella fruit is best eaten raw and fresh. The more mature leaves can be eaten as a salad. The fruit is sweeter when it takes on a yellow colour. The ripe fruits are used for making fresh juice drinks, cordials and can be made into nectar which in turn can be used for yogurt. Incidentally in Indonesia and Malaysia, it is eaten with a thick black salty-sweet, fermented shrimp paste called hayko. The fruit is made into preserves and flavourings for sauces, soups, and stews. In Fiji it is also made into a jam. The fruit is soaked in vinegar with chili and other spices to make the snack food achcharu in our country,” she said.

“Like in Indonesia and Malaysia, in Vietnam the unripe fruit can be eaten with salt, sugar and chili, or with shrimp paste. It can be eaten with salt or made into a drink sweetened with sugar or spiced with ginger. Ambarella is occasionally simmered in curries but is more commonly cooked with sugar and a stick of cinnamon. Its young leaves are cooked as a vegetable. The Unripe, mature, green fruit is used to make a refreshing and delicious drink that is served in Sri Lankan hotels as a welcome drink and incidentally is much appreciated by the people in West Indies and Grenada. It can be mixed with other tropical fruit juices to enhance flavor, aroma and taste. The Young leaves are even cooked with tough meat to tenderize them. The unripe fruit is excellent for making chutney or preserved as pickles in vinegar and sugar,” explained Hapuarachchi.

When cultivating, the trees do best in full sun, but will produce some fruit in light shade. As a large and vigorous tree they prefer not be planted underneath other large trees. The fruit begins to appear after only three years. Even the young ambarella leaves can be consumed raw and are often used as a substitute for lemon to impart the sour, savory flavour to dishes. In Sri Lanka the raw fruit is mostly eaten fresh and cooked as a curry with chili. The young leaves are added to salted fish and eaten as a side dish with rice.

“It has been noted that some trees can suffer from some nutritional disorders if the soil is too alkaline. Trees are cold sensitive when small and should be protected from strong wind. The fruit has a pineapple-mango flavor and a crunchy texture. As they mature the skin turns golden-yellow with an orange-yellow pulp surrounding a single large spiny seed. The ripe fruit is also much sweeter than the less mature green fruit,” pointed out Hapuarachchi.

It is actually quite easy to prepare the Ambarella juice. The fresh fruit is peeled, the thorny seed removed from its center. Cut the flesh into few pieces, add sugar, a dash of salt, lime and cold water and crush them all in a juicer. Better sieve it to drink the tasty brew.

“Ambarella is widely used in ayurvedic medicine for treating fever, cough, gonorrhoea, diarrhea and aphthous ulcers. Apart from being used as food, ambarella is also used as a therapeutic agent, due to the presence of flavonoids, saponin and tannins. Dense with nutrients, the fruit is beneficial for improving your overall health,” said Hapuarachchi.

Hapuarachchi also pointed out that even the Ambarella bark has health benefits making this a very valuable tree. The bark of the ambarella tree is used as a remedy to cure dysentery. People suffering from diarrhea, dysentery, can take an herbal concoction of the ambarella bark to ease discomfort. The herbal concoction is prepared using five grams of the bark. The clean bark is boiled in two cups of water until the water is reduced to half. The strained concoction can be consumed to provide instant relief for dysentery. However it needs to be pointed out that eating excess of unripe fruit may develop gastritis due to high acidity.



Improves eyesight

A rich source of vitamin A, ambarella helps your vision. The retinol compound in vitamin A is responsible for this function as it improves the visual perception of an individual. A decoction made out of ambarella leaves is used for treating sore eyes.

Manages cholesterol

Ambarella is packed with vitamin C, which helps metabolize the cholesterol found in your body to bile acids. By metabolizing the cholesterol, the blood cholesterol levels will be balanced, thereby keeping the cholesterol levels controlled in a healthy balance.

Improves digestion

The presence of dietary fiber in the fruit makes it beneficial in the facilitation of your digestion process. The fiber aids by clearing out the bowel and prevents the development of constipation and indigestion.

Along with that, the water content in the fruit plays a significant role by combating dehydration. Apart from the fruit, the barks are used as a natural remedy for dysentery.

Aids in weight loss

Low in carbohydrates, fat, calories and high in dietary fiber- ambarella fruits help shed that extra weight. By providing the essential nutrients required for your bodily functions, ambarella keeps you feeling full, due to the fiber and the water content also provides a feeling of fullness and prevent you from overeating.

Prevents premature ageing

The presence of vitamin C in the fruit can help your body in different ways. In this case, it aids in protecting molecules such as proteins, lipids (fats), carbohydrates, and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) from any kind of damage. It protects your cells from free radicals, toxins, or pollutants - thereby preventing your skin from getting attacked.

Boosts immune system

Vitamin C content in the fruit helps improve the function of your immune system. It strengthens your defense mechanisms, thereby preventing the onset of any diseases or attacks from free radical cells.

Treats anaemia

Rich in iron, ambarella is beneficial for an individual suffering from lack of blood. It helps in the formation of red blood cells, which is boosted by the presence of vitamin B1. It helps increase the flow of oxygen throughout your body - improving the blood flow.

Treats coughs

One of the other major benefits of ambarella is its ability in curing coughs. An effective natural remedy, ambarella can soothe your throat and get rid of the hoarseness.


Ayurvedic Health benefits of Ambarella

Fever: Prepare a juice of Ambarella fruit. Drink it twice a day to get relief from the fever.

Cough: Prepare a decoction of Ambarella bark and take it twice a day. (Overdose may cause excessive vomiting)

Gonorrhea: Prepare a decoction of Ambarella leaves. Take it thrice a day.

Diarrhea: Make an infusion of the leaves of Ambarella. Keep it for 5 minutes. Take it twice a day.

Aphthous Ulcers: Take fresh leaves of Ambarella. Ground them with sugar. Rub the paste to mouth and gums.

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