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Opinions of Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Columnist: Antwi-Otoo, Timothy

Alasa…the cure of diabetes and heart diseases

By Timothy Antwi-Otoo

It is my favorite fruit despite its bitterness but until yesterday, 4th January 2016, I did not know the nutritional and medicinal value of the African Star Apple/ White Star Apple.

The Gas, Hausa and the Ewes call the fruit “alasa”, and Alasema” to the Twis and Fantes, but the white man calls it African Star Apple or White Star Apple.
Due to its bitterness, many people, especially women, do not enjoy the fruit but arguably, it is one of the best fruits everyone should eat every day.
It is very affordable too, because with as little as 50pesewas, one can get alasema/alasa on the streets, walkways or fruit vendors.

Like I said, I like the fruit much and due to its scarcity during certain time of the year, I feel uncomfortable during the scarcity period because I am compelled to substitute the alasema/alasa with any fruit.
Just yesterday (4th January, 2016), after my usual omo tuo lunch at my usual place in Dansoman, B. A. Opoku Sharp Curve, I decided to get my favorite alasema from a fruit vendor who sells nearby.
I think she was shocked because I by-passed all the notable fruits on display such as pineapple, apple, orange, pawpaw, among others, to buy GHc2.00 worth of alasema/alasa.
So, she asked. Why are you buying alasa?
I told her I was buying it because it is my favorite fruit even though it is bitter.
She asked, do you know what it does to you?
I replied the opposite and she nodded.
Folks, the fruit vendor picked her smart mobile phone from her apron, show me little information on the nutritional and medicinal values of alasa and ask, do you know it heals constipation, treat diabetes, and heart disease?

I told the fruit vendor I had no knowledge of the both the nutritional and medicinal values of it even though I eat it every day as many as I can afford.
The fruit vendor therefore told me to go and do a research of alasema and folks; you would be amazing what I found alasema to do.

Folks, the first thing I did this morning 5th January, 2016) the moment I stepped in the office at 4am was to research on alasa and I found out that it is the remedy for lowered blood sugar and cholesterol, and could be useful in preventing, treating heart diseases and drug resistant bacteria.

This finding was also confirmed by Researchers at the Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science and Technology, Covenant University Ogun State in Nigeria.
“African Star
Apple, known in Yoruba as ‘Agbalumo’, is the remedy for lowered blood sugar and cholesterol, and could be useful in preventing, treating heart diseases and drug resistant bacteria”.

Let us read what the Nigerian researchers came out with:

Botanical Name: Chrysophyllum albidum
The Chrysophyllum genus of plants consists of almost 80 different species of fruits all exclusively grown within the tropical region. African star apple (Udara) is a very popular fruit here in Nigeria. Its fleshy pulp is often eaten as a snack and it is equally common in both the urban and rural areas, particularly around Southern Nigeria. Being a seasonal fruit (produces during the dry season between December and April), it is currently in peak abundance flooding the market places and street walkways at about this time of the year. Now, allow me introduce you to some really good news about the nutritious load of Udara/Agbalumo goodness!

Health Benefits of Udara/Agbalumo (African Star Apple)
As with most fruits, it has low calorie because of its little fat content so it is definitely a healthy food.
It is a superb snack because its high fibre content provides food bulk which both increases satiety and aids digestion so it is very ideal for weight watchers.
It has a surprisingly decent amount of Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C). Clearly, Vitamin C sources are not exclusive to the citrus fruits family- in fact, Guava has much more!
Recently published researches done here in Nigeria about Udara/Agbalumo leaves carried out on rats showed two possible medicinal uses:
It could serve as a natural source of Anti-Oxidant booster to remove free radicals from oxidative stress disorders, and
Its leaf extract contains Hypoglycemic (to treat Diabetes) and Anti-Platelet activities, although it also had toxic effects on some organs.
Basic Nutrition
1-cup serving of fresh star apple contains 67 calories. Eating star apple as a snack is a good choice as the calories are low and it provides no fat; however, this may not be enough calories to ease hunger pains and boost energy levels, as between-meal snack are meant to do. The Diet Channel notes that 100 to 200 calories per snack is best; consider eating an oz. of cheese or a tsp. of peanut butter to boost the number of calories into this range. One serving of star apple also has 15 g of carbohydrates, or 11.5 percent of the 130 g suggested for daily consumption by the Institute of Medicine.
Nutrient Content per 100g edible Udara/Agbalumo pulp
Nutrient Quantity
Energy (Kcal) 91.09
Carbohydrate (g) 10.49
Protein (g) 6.99
Fat (g) 2.49
Moisture (g) 73
Vitamin C (mg) 25
Folks, from the above, I am sure we are convinced that even though alasema is bitter but its benefits are enormous.
Those suffering from constipation, diabetes, heart disease, among others, now, resort to alasema for a cur at a very affordable price.