Properties and Benefits of Sapodilla: Zapota, sapota, chico, naseberry or sapodilla (Manilkara zapota) are common names denominating a popular tropical fruit native to Central America and the Caribbean islands. Sapodilla is a dull looking fruit with potent antiviral, antibacterial as well as anti-inflammatory properties. It boasts a good vitamin C content and is a rich source of antioxidants called tannins. Regular consumption is believed to protect cells against free radical damage.
Sapodilla is an excellent source of dietary fiber and thus ideal for relieving constipation and lowering high blood cholesterol levels. Regular consumption is said to favor digestion, boost immunity and promote cardiovascular as well as colon health. The fruit has an impressive anti-inflammatory action and antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
What does sapodilla look like? As stated above, sapodilla is quite a dull-looking fruit. At first glance it might remind you of a shaved kiwifruit, brown plum or peach. Different varieties differ slightly in terms of shape: some are rounder, while others are slightly more elongated or oval. Ripe fruit have a dull brown skin and at least two shiny, red-brown bean-shaped seeds in the middle. Sapodilla flesh is brown or sandy in color, looking very much like that of baked fruit (it kind of reminds me of baked quinces).
What does sapodilla taste like? Unripe fruit are rich in saponins and thus have quite a bitter taste. If you chew on a slice of unripe sapodilla, you will feel it sucking all the moisture out of your mouth. Saponins are the ones responsible for the dry mouth sensation you get when eating certain fruits such as quinces and unripe sapodilla. Eating unripe sapodilla may also lead to mouth sores, also known as canker sores.
Ripe fruit are very sweet and should make a good impression on you when you try them for the first time. The texture of the flesh is a bit grainy, reminiscent of that of a pear, but nonetheless pleasant and savory.
Nutrition facts and health benefits of sapodilla.
1) Great natural laxative. With 5.3 g of dietary fiber/100 g of pulp, sapodilla makes a great natural laxative. Fiber adds bulk to stools which helps with intestinal motility, relieving constipation. This, in turn, protects the colon mucosa by significantly reducing the time it is exposed to the toxins in the waste material.
2) Excellent cholesterol-lowering properties. As mentioned above, sapodilla is rich in dietary fiber (5.3 g), plant material that our stomach does not digest. Dietary fiber passes unmodified through the digestive tract and, when it reaches the intestines, along with the already digested food, it binds to the fats in the food. This reduces fat absorption considerably and indirectly contributes to lowering blood cholesterol levels.
3) Promotes weight loss. Again, the fiber in sapodilla prevents the intestinal absorption of fat, a process which contributes to weight loss. Basically fiber cuts down on the calories our body absorbs, despite having enjoyed a richer, fattier meal. And although sapodilla has 83 kcal/100 g, almost as much as a banana (89 kcal/100 g), its high fiber content makes it ideal for losing weight, when of course part of an overall nutritious and balanced diet.
4) Supports digestion. Sapodilla consumption is very supportive of the digestion process. The fruit boasts great anti-inflammatory properties and thus helps soothe an irritated stomach lining. Consumption is recommended in cases of acid reflux, gastritis, even irritable bowel syndrome (IBS, a condition characterized by inflammation at the level of the gastrointestinal tract which affects digestion, nutrient absorption, intestinal motility and bowel function in general).
5) Antiviral and antibacterial properties. Sapodilla is a good source of vitamin C, only 100 g of fruit supplying us with 24.5% of the recommended daily allowance. Vitamin C boasts excellent antiviral and antibacterial properties, increasing the aggressiveness of white blood cells in the fight against viral and bacterial infections. Also, vitamin C stimulates the production of collagen, the main structural protein in our body, responsible for blood vessel and skin integrity. Having enough of it in our diet means we don’t have to worry about wrinkles anytime soon.
6) Anti-inflammatory effects. Due to its high antioxidant content, vitamin C included, sapodilla helps reduce inflammation markers. Inflammation has been linked to a number of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer and keeping it under control constitutes the best prevention against chronic illnesses.
7) Offers antioxidant protection. Sapodilla is rich in antioxidants, notably tannins, vitamin C and copper. Antioxidants hunt down and destroy harmful reactive oxygen molecules called free radicals which may damage cells, causing them to mutate into cancerous cells (a.k.a. cells that dont die when they are programmed to, but keep on reproducing, resulting in cancerous masses). Also, antioxidants significantly limit the action of carcinogens, toxic compounds that disrupt normal cell activity causing cells to multiply uncontrollably, in which case they become cancer cells.
Conclusion. Overall, sapodilla is a moderately nutritious fruit with a high antioxidant content. It is a potent anti-inflammatory and antiviral agent with beneficial effects on digestive and cardiovascular health. It has a soothing action on the stomach lining and a good vitamin and mineral content. It is generally considered safe to eat during pregnancy, but consulting a doctor on the subject is best.