About the Tropical Fruit Casimiroa: Its Nutrition and Medicinal Benefits
The tropical fruit Casimiroa edulis is also known as white sapote or chapota. It is native to the highlands of Central Mexico, where it grows naturally in woodlands. Often casimiroa trees are found near coffee plantations where they provide shade. The fruit is commercially grown throughout Central America, the Caribbean, parts of New Zealand and South Africa. Casimiroa was introduced to California by Franciscan monks around 1810. In the USA casimiroa trees are grown mostly as ornamentals. Casimiroa fruit is not exported because it is highly perishable, having a short shelf life after ripening.
The fruit is about the size of an orange, but its shape is similar to a mango. The color of casimiroa varies from green to canary yellow, depending upon its variety, of which there are many strains. The fruits flesh is yellow or white with a texture similar to a combination of custard apple and pear. The taste of casimiroa could be described as mild and sweet with a hint of mango or peach and sometimes almond.
Casimiroa has a long history and was well known to the Aztec and Maya civilizations of Mexico. Mexicans named the fruit zapote or sapote, meaning soft fruit. This has led to some confusion between other fruits native to Central America known as sapote. The Aztecs named the fruit cochizapotl, which means sleeping fruit in the Nahuatl dialect. The name casimiroa was given to the genus in honor of the Spanish botanist Casimiroa Gomaz de Ortega.
Casimoroa and Traditional Medicine: casimiroa fruit is possibly better known for its medicinal effects. The Aztecs made tea to extract the essence from the leaves, bark and seeds of the fruit. The tea was taken as a sedative to induce sleep and as a narcotic.
In 1893 the Mexican doctor, Jesus Sanchez identified the narcotic effects of casimiroa as casimirin, a type of alkaloid, glycoside. The glucoside casimirosine, also present in the fruit, has the effect of lowering blood pressure and relieving rheumatic pain. In Mexico the seeds of casimiroa fruit are crushed and used to treat sores and in Costa Rica a decoction of the leaves is prepared for the treatment of diabetes.
Casimiroa fruit also contains coumarine. Coumarines are chemicals known as phenylpropanoids found in plants. They are used in the pharmaceutical industry as an edema modifier and for the treatment of lymphedema (elephantiasis).
Casimiroa and its Nutrition: fruits of the casimiroa edulis species are rich in vitamins C and A. They have a high sugar content, about 27%. However, they are low in calories.
Casimiroa edulis belongs to the Rutaceae family of plants, commonly known as citrus. As such it contains Limonoids. Limonoids are phytochemicals, found mostly in citrus peel. Research suggest that Limonoids are antifungal, antiviral, antineoplastic, antibacterial and antimalarial. Eating foods rich in Limonoids provides antioxidant activity which trigger detoxification enzymes in the liver. Casimiroa also contains the phytochemical known as Zapotin. Studies show that Zapotin has powerful anticancerous activity and in particular helps prevent colon cancer.
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