Starfruit, also known as carambola, is an exotic fruit that originates from Southeast Asia and grows abundantly in tropical areas. This bright yellow, five-angled fruit has a waxy skin and juicy, tangy flesh. While not as common in Western markets, starfruit is gaining popularity for its unique taste and stellar nutrient profile. Read on to learn more about the many health benefits of adding starfruit to your diet.
One of the main reasons to eat starfruit is its excellent nutrition. A 100g serving (about 1/2 cup) contains just 31 calories yet is packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Some of the top nutrients found in starfruit include:
- Dietary Fiber – 2.8g or around 10% RDI
- Vitamin C – 34mg or 57% RDI
- Folate – 12% RDI
- Potassium – 182mg or 5% RDI
- Magnesium – 5% RDI
- Copper – 13% RDI
Starfruit is also high in powerful plant compounds like quercetin, gallic acid, and epicatechin, which act as antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals and reduce oxidative stress.
Supports Immune Function
With 160% of your daily needs for vitamin C in one cup, starfruit is excellent for supporting a healthy immune system. Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that acts as an antioxidant and helps boost the production of white blood cells. White blood cells defend the body from pathogens and infections.
Vitamin C also plays a role in collagen production, which supports healthy skin and tissues. Adequate vitamin C intake is linked to enhanced immune function and lower risk of respiratory infections like the common cold.
Eating starfruit regularly can help fight off illnesses and keep your immune defenses strong.
The high fiber content of starfruit makes it beneficial for your digestive system. The 2.8 grams of fiber per cup provide bulk to stools and help food pass smoothly through the intestines. This can prevent issues like constipation and diarrhea.
Fiber is also linked to feeding the good bacteria in your gut microbiome. The nutrients in starfruit may help support a healthy balance of gut flora, which improves digestion and overall health.
With almost 11% of the recommended daily intake of fiber, starfruit is an excellent way to meet your daily fiber needs for optimal digestive function.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, making nutrition strategies to support heart health extremely important. Luckily, the nutrients in starfruit promote a healthy cardiovascular system in several ways.
First, starfruit contains potassium, an electrolyte mineral that helps regulate blood pressure.Getting adequate potassium can reduce strain on blood vessels and lower high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease.
The fiber in starfruit is also beneficial for heart health by binding to cholesterol in the digestive tract to eliminate it from the body. Furthermore, the antioxidants in starfruit protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation, which can lead to plaque buildup in arteries.
Research shows that increased starfruit consumption is linked to improved cholesterol levels and lower heart disease risk.
Controls Blood Sugar
For people with diabetes or prediabetes, keeping blood sugar levels stable is crucial. Although starfruit is naturally low in sugar compared to other fruits, its fiber content helps control blood glucose spikes after meals.
Fiber slows the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream, preventing surges in insulin and unstable energy levels. Studies show that pairing high-fiber foods with carb-heavy meals can significantly lower post-meal blood sugar in people with diabetes.
Starfruit is considered a low glycemic index (GI) food, meaning it does not dramatically raise blood sugar. Its high fiber and water content make it a smart choice for controlling diabetes.
Supports Weight Loss
With only 31 calories per 100g serving, starfruit is an incredibly nutrient-dense, low-calorie food. It provides a ton of vitamins, minerals, and fiber for minimal calories, making it an excellent choice if you’re watching your waistline.
Both the fiber and water content of starfruit help increase feelings of fullness. This means you’re likely to eat less, an important factor in managing weight. Fiber also moderates fat absorption and balances blood sugar, which are key in promoting weight loss.
Research indicates that increased fruit and vegetable intake correlates with lower body weight over time. The water and fiber in produce like starfruit promote satiety while reducing overall calorie intake.
Improves Kidney Function
Some early research indicates that starfruit may act as a diuretic to flush out toxins and excess fluid from the kidneys. A diuretic effect could help reduce fluid retention, bloating, and high blood pressure.
However, most of these studies have been done on animals rather than humans. More research is needed to confirm starfruit’s safety and efficacy as a diuretic in humans. People with kidney disease should exercise caution with starfruit and speak to their doctor first.
That said, the combination of water, potassium, and antioxidants in starfruit likely support normal kidney function. Potassium helps control fluid balance in the kidneys and reduce strain. Staying hydrated and avoiding oxidative damage to kidney tissues with antioxidants is also beneficial.
Preliminary research shows compounds in starfruit may have antimicrobial effects against certain harmful bacteria. The extracts appear to inhibit the growth of types of bacteria like E.coli, S.aureus, and Bacillus cereus.
Researchers believe polyphenols like quercetin have antibacterial effects that could help treat foodborne illnesses. The antimicrobial properties in the skin and pulp of starfruit may also slow spoilage and food contamination.
While more human research is needed, the antimicrobial activity of starfruit could help fight bacterial infections and promote food safety. This adds to the list of medicinal benefits of this exotic superfruit.
In addition to benefiting internal functions, starfruit contains nutrients that promote radiant, youthful skin as well. With nearly 60% of your vitamin C needs in one cup, eating starfruit regularly helps maintain collagen production for firm, smooth skin.
Vitamin C also protects skin cells from oxidative damage caused by sunlight and pollution. Plus, the hydrating quality of starfruit increases moisture in the skin to reduce wrinkles and give a plump, vibrant appearance.
The antioxidants in starfruit fight inflammation and free radicals that can lead to premature aging of skin cells. Applying starfruit extract or pulp topically may also improve inflammatory skin conditions like acne.
Overall, this antioxidant-rich superfruit contains many nutrients that reduce signs of aging and keep your skin looking its best.
Boosts Eye Health
Rich in antioxidants like quercetin, vitamin C, and riboflavin, starfruit supports eye health and protects vision. These compounds mop up harmful free radicals that can damage the delicate tissues in the eyes.
Starfruit also contains good amounts of provitamin A carotenoids like beta-carotene. Consuming more carotenoids is linked to a lower risk of age-related vision issues like macular degeneration and cataracts.
The flavonoid antioxidants in starfruit may also reduce eye inflammation and dryness. By keeping your eyes healthy and reducing oxidative stress, nutrients in starfruit help maintain excellent vision well into old age.
With its unique sweet-tart flavor and stellar nutritional profile, starfruit deserves more attention for its many health benefits. This exotic fruit is loaded with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals while being low in calories.
Consuming starfruit regularly promotes immune function, digestion, heart health, and weight loss. It may also have benefits for kidney function, antimicrobial properties, skin health, and vision.
Given its versatility and highly nutritious qualities, both the pulp and skin of starfruit can be consumed raw or added into recipes. Try adding this exotic superfruit to your diet to take advantage of its diverse range of health-boosting effects.