‘Five-finger’ is called many different things around the world — carambola, star apple and star fruit, just to name a few. This waxy, yellow-green fruit hails from the sultry tropical area of Sri Lanka. The fruit grows best in tropical and moderate climates such as Australia, South America, Hawaii, Florida, and of course — sweet Trinbago.
The most unique visual quality is the fruit’s perfect star shape when cut across the middle. There are two varieties; one is deliciously sweet – described as a cross between an apple and a grape – and the other sour. The sweet type usually has thicker flesh. One of the great benefits of star fruit is that the entire thing – waxy coat and all – can be enjoyed.
It refrigerates well, which is a good way to extend their shelf life. Uses for star fruit include juice drinks or blends, smoothies, salsa, chutney, and salads, although they’re also good to eat as is, like an apple. Cooked, the tart varieties work well for imparting a tart zing to poultry, meat, and seafood dishes, and even cooked desserts.
Serving Size: One (1) cup of cubed star fruit (32 grams)
Amt. per serving
Carbohydrates: 9 g
Sugar: 5 g
Fibre: 4 g
Protein: 1 g
The greatest amount of nutrients in star fruit is derived from vitamin C, providing 76% of the daily recommended value in a single one-cup serving. The C content in star fruit helps ward off colds, flu, and any other type of infection. Another reason vitamin C is called an essential vitamin is because it’s needed by the body to form collagen in the bones, cartilage, muscle, blood vessels, and aids in the absorption of iron.
Smaller amounts of dietary fibre, copper, pantothenic acid, and potassium (which can prevent muscle cramps by increasing blood circulation) are important components of this fruit. B-complex vitamins like folates, riboflavin, and pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) are also present and team up to perform various synthetic functions inside the body, such as forming metabolizing enzymes.
The average star fruit contains around 30 calories (fewer than any other tropical fruit per serving), so with its high fiber content, it’s a great choice for anyone wanting to lose weight, prevent constipation, and keep their system running smoothly. It also helps prevent the absorption of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol while protecting the colon from toxic substances, by binding to cancer-causing chemicals that happen to be passing through.
The antioxidants offer their own benefits, including the neutralization of harmful free radicals that can cause inflammation. Flavonoids such as quercetin, epicatechin, and gallic acid offer this benefit as well.
Traditional Brazilian folk medicine made use of star fruit as a diuretic, an expectorant, and cough suppressant. The leaves and fruit have been used to stop vomiting; placed on the temples to ease headache; for poultices to relieve chickenpox and rid the body of parasitic infestation. Powdered seeds reputedly have a sedative effect. However, dialysis patients or those with possible renal failure symptoms have reportedly developed neurological symptoms, and are advised to strictly avoid eating star fruit.
However, consume star fruits in moderation because they contain fructose which may be harmful to your health in excessive amounts.
Studies on ‘Five Finger’ or Star Fruit
Preliminary results of a study supported the use of star fruit as an anti-inflammatory agent and introduced new possibilities for its use in skin disorders. Star fruit was noted for being rich in antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds, which inhibit reactive oxygen species. Glycosyl flavonoid components such as quercetin, rutin (a component in fruits shown to protect against heart attack and stroke) and cyanidin were identified, and insoluble fibers slowed the absorption of carbohydrates to significantly reduce blood glucose levels.
The fibre content of star fruit can help prevent cardiovascular disease by reducing serum triglyceride and total cholesterol levels. Selective activity against brain tumor cells also was observed, and an extract from the leaves was shown to be effective against liver carcinoma cells.
Star Fruit Healthy Recipe: Star Fruit Soup
- 2 chicken drumsticks
- 1 star fruit, sliced
- 1 teaspoon lemon grass
- 1 teaspoon kaffir lime leaves, shredded
- 4 ounces shallots, chopped
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons small tomatoes
- 1 ounce fish sauce
- 1 ounce black soya sauce
- 1 ounce white soya sauce
- 2 teaspoons coriander, chopped
- 1 red chilli, shredded
- Place the chicken stock in a saucepan and boil the drumsticks until tender. Add black and white soya sauce to taste.
- Put sliced star fruit, shallots, tomatoes, lemon grass and shredded kaffir lime leaves in the pan and season with fish sauce to taste. Cook further 5 minutes.
- To serve: pour into one large or two individual bowls and decorate with coriander and red chilli. Serve warm or hot.