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Cherimoya or custard apple is a fruit with many properties. The cherimoya tree grows in tropical climates, and there are more and more people who eat this fruit due to its long list of health benefits.
In this article, we are going to explain what cherimoya is, its benefits, and how we can eat it.
Cherimoya, also known as custard apples, is a tropical fruit from the south of Equator and the north of Peru. The trees of this fruit do not survive in extreme temperatures and do not grow in tropical lowlands or at very high altitudes. The leaves and fruits of the custard apple tree suffer when they are exposed to climates of more than 32ºC or lower than -1ªC for a long time.
This fruit is very sweet and nice and has a long list of essential nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. It has many benefits and applications.
We can have cherimoya in many different ways. It can be cut into squares, make a purée and use as mousse or as a cake filling. Some people add some lemon or lime juice and dilute it with freezing cold water to obtain a refreshing drink.
Custard apple has the same calories as mangoes do. 100 g of cherimoya has around 75 Kcal. Moreover, it does not have any saturated fats or cholesterol.
Cherimoya is an excellent source of vitamin C that provides around 20% of the recommended daily total. It is also a source of carbohydrates, potassium, fiber, many vitamins, and essential minerals. It is saturated fats and cholesterol free and low in sodium.
In the following lines, we are going to list some of the cherimoya health benefits and properties:
Custard apple is rich in vitamin C, which is essential in the improvement of the immune system function. This vitamin is an important natural antioxidant that helps the body develop resistance against external infectious agents and eliminates harmful free radicals from the body.
So, it can provide us with immunity against common illnesses such as colds and flu, and prevent infections.
Due to its high levels of vitamin C, it also works as an antioxidant that helps protect our body from the pain caused by inflammatory free radicals.
Cherimoya presents a balanced proportion of sodium and potassium. This helps to regulate blood pressure and heart rate. In addition, the consumption of this fruit has proven to reduce bad cholesterol and increase the blood levels of good cholesterol. This means it improves the blood flow towards the heart, protecting us from heart attacks, strokes, and hypertension.
Some studies try to find out how the rich content of antioxidants that the cherimoya presents can provide benefits against cancer. Cancer cells are created from free radicals caused by oxidative stress. These antioxidants neutralize the effect of free radicals.
It also contains significative quantities of fiber, thus preventing the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine and avoiding the mucose membrane of the colon from being exposed to toxic substances, which reduces the risk of colon and liver cancer. It also protects against breast cancer.
Custard apple is an excellent source of vitamin B, especially vitamin B6 which controls the levels of neurochemicals GABA in our brain. The appropriate levels of GABA soothe irritability, depression, and headaches.
Vitamin B6 also protects against Parkinson's disease and relieves stress and tension. The consumption of 100 grams of this tropical fruit provides us with around 20% of the recommended daily levels of vitamin B6.
This fruit contains calcium, which is essential for bone health. So, it helps prevent osteoporosis and its problems and symptoms.
Another property of the cherimoya is its abundant amount of potassium, necessary for a normal heartbeat and blood pressure, and it also protects against hypertension and strokes.
It protects our metabolism and the intestinal movement by providing enough fiber. Besides potassium, this tropical fruit also contains other minerals such as magnesium, sodium, zinc, and manganese.
It is rich in nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants; this fruit can help cure diseases such as decalcifications, diabetes, stomach problems, constipation, intestinal transit problems, anemia, hypertension, and other related problems.
Vitamin C is vital if you want healthy and shiny skin. As it is a natural antioxidant, this vitamin helps heal wounds and produce collagen, which is necessary for skin formation.
Aging signs, such as fine lines and wrinkles, as well as pigmentation, are the result of damage caused to the skin by the action of free radicals. Vitamin C in cherimoya can fight the body's free radicals, providing healthy, perfect skin.
Vitamin C is also vital for hair health and prevents harm from the external radicals that also affect our hair. Also, cherimoya can be dried out and pulverized. This can be applied to our hair to eliminate lice.
In its natural habitat, the cherimoya season begins in November and ends in May. The fruit is usually hand-picked and cut from the cherimoya tree at maturity.
We can buy fresh, firm, medium-size and uniform greeny-yellow cherimoyas in markets. We should not buy custard apples with broken skin, superficial stains and too mature, because it will be difficult to preserve.
Once we have bought it, if it is green, we have to leave it in a basket at room temperature until it ripens. This fruit has a very short lifetime. Once it is mature, it deteriorates quickly at room temperature.
As with bananas, cherimoya cannot be stored in the refrigerator for an extended period of time, as they suffer from cold injuries. However, if stored as juice or puree, the fruit can be kept in the freezer for several weeks.
To prepare cherimoya to eat we have to wash it with cold water. Then we have to dry it softly with kitchen paper. We cut the fruit lengthwise, and we eat it with a spoon. We throw away the cherimoya seeds and the skin.
We can also make purée from the pulp and mix it with other fruits in salads. It also serves as ice cream dressings. Custard apple juice is a refreshing drink and can be mixed with honey, sugar, milk, and ice and served cold as a sorbet or with other fruit cocktails and smoothies.
González Vega, M. E. (2013). Chirimoya (Annona cherimola Miller), frutal tropical y sub-tropical de valores promisorios. Cultivos Tropicales, 34(3), 52-63.