Sapodilla (Naseberry ) nutrition facts and health benefits

Sapodilla nutrition facts and health benefits

Sapodilla (Sapota) nutrition facts

Sapodilla or Sapota or chikoo, a delicious tropical fruit is rich in vitamins, minerals and health benefiting anti-oxidant tannins. The fruit is soft, composed of easily digestible pulp made up with simple sugars like fructose and sucrose that when eaten replenishes energy and revitalizes the body instantly.
Sapota is a tropical evergreen fruit-bearing tree belongs to the family of sapotaceae of the genus: Manilkara. Scientific  name: Manilkara zapota.
sapodilla plant sapodilla with seed
Sapota fruits. Note for rusty grey color raw fruits. (Photo courtesy by Narith5) Sapodilla. Note for black color seed at the center of pulpy fruit.

Originated in the central American rain forests, probably in Mexico and Belize, it has now spread all over the tropical belt and is being grown as a major commercial crop in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Malaysia. The tree grows very fast and is wind and drought resistant suitable for dry arid regions with scanty rains. However, irrigation during summer season results in good fruit yield.
Each fruit is a berry, round or oval, measures about 10 cm in diameter, and weigh about 150 g. A tree bears as many as 2000 fruits/year.
Sapota fruit is brown in color with sandy “potato like” outer surface. Internally, the pulp is white with sticky latex called as saponin in unripe fruits. Latex disappears once the fruit ripens and the pulp turns to brown color. Pulp is deliciously sweet with smooth or grainy texture and contains 3-10 black colored smooth, shiny “bean” shaped inedible seeds in the center.

Health benefits of sapodilla 

  • Sapodilla is rich in dietary fiber (5.6 g/100g), which makes it a good bulk laxative. The fiber content helps relieve constipation episodes and helps protect the mucous membrane of the colon from cancer causing toxins by firmly binding to them.
  • The fruit is rich in antioxidant poly-phenolic compound tannin. Tannins are a complex family of naturally occurring polyphenols that neutralize acids by precipitating proteins. Research studies found that tannins have shown to have potential anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-bacterial, and anti-parasitic effects. Hence, these compounds have many useful medicinal applications such as anti-diarrheal, hemostatic (stops bleeding) and as a remedy for hemorrhoids.
  • Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory effect of tannins help limit conditions like erosive gastritis, reflux-esophagitis, enteritis, and irritating bowel disorders. Some other fruits that are rich in tannins includepomegranatepersimmongrapes..etc.
  • Sapote contains good amount of antioxidant vitamins like vitamin C (24.5% of recommended daily intake per 100 g of fruit) and vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for vision. It is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in vitamin A has been known to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers. So also, consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful free radicals.
  • Fresh ripen sapodilla are good source of minerals like potassium, copper, iron and vitamins like folate, niacin and pantothenic acid. These compounds are essential for optimal health as they involve in various metabolic processes in the body as cofactors for the enzymes.

There are many cultivars of sapodilla are grown worldwide like-

  • Brown Sugar variety –  Fruit is medium to small, 2 to 2-1/2 inches long, nearly round. Skin is light, scruffy brown. Flesh pale brown, fragrant, juicy, very sweet, and rich, texture slightly granular. Quality is very good.
  • Prolific variety –  The fruit is round-conical, 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 inches long and broad. Skin is scruffy, brown, becoming nearly smooth at maturity. Flesh light pinkish, mildly fragrant, texture smooth, flavor sweet, quality good. Tree bears early, consistently and heavily.
  • Russel type–  The fruit is large, round, 3 to 5 inches in diameter and length. Skin is scruffy brown with gray patches. Flesh is pinkish, mildly fragrant, texture somewhat granular. Flavor is rich and sweet.
  • Tikal – A new seedling selection with excellent flavor. Elliptic in shape, light brown in color, smaller than Prolific. Ripens very early.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients: Sapodilla (Manilkara zapota), fresh, Nutritive value per 100 g.  (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 83 Kcal 4%
Carbohydrates 19.9 g 15%
Protein 0.44 g
Total Fat 1.10 g 3.5%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 5.3 g 14%
Folates 14 mcg 3.5%
Niacin 0.200 mg 1%
Pantothenic acid 0.252 mg 5%
Pyridoxine 0.037 mg 3%
Riboflavin 0.020 mg 1.5%
Thiamin 0.058 mg 5%
Vitamin A 60 IU 2%
Vitamin C 14.7 mg 24.5%
Sodium 12 mg 1%
Potassium 193 mg 4%
Calcium 21 mg 2%
Copper 0.086 mg 9%
Iron 0.80mg 10%
Magnesium 12mg 3%
Phosphorous 12 mg 2%
Zinc 0.10 mg 1%

Selection and storage

Sapodillas are available all around the season in the markets. Harvesting is usually done by plucking each fruit gently as in mango. It is often difficult to tell when a sapodilla is ready to harvest. Mature fruit appears brown and easily separates from the stem without leaking of the latex. Scratch the fruit to make sure the skin is not green beneath the scurf.

In the store, buy fresh sapodilla with smooth intact skin and without cuts/cracks, bruises or wrinkles. Once ripen, the fruit just yield to gentle thumb pressure. 

Mature but unripe fruits must be kept at room temperature for 7 to 10 days to ripen. Firm, ripe sapodillas can keep well for several days in the home refrigerator, and at 35° F, they can be kept for 6 weeks. The fruit is usually consumed fresh without any additions.

Preparation and serving method

Wash the sandy scruff before selecting the fruit to ripen. Fresh sapodilla should be eaten when it turns soft.   Usually, cut the fruit into two equal halves, then scoop the flesh using a spoon and discard the seeds. It should be enjoyed without any additions in order to experience its unique flavor.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Fresh fruit sections are a great addition to fruit salads.
  • Sapodilla-milk shake is a favorite drink in Asia.
  • It is also used in ice creams, cakes, pies…etc.

Safety profile

Raw sapodilla fruits are high in latex and tannins and intensely bitter in taste. Eating unripe fruits may cause mouth ulcers, raw sensation in the throat, and breathing difficulty, especially in the children. (Medical disclaimer).

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