The Ga people of Greater Accra Region call it ‘ Alasa’ . The African Star Apple is the fruit borne by the tree Chrysophyllum albidum . It’s called Apple because it’s shaped like an apple. Star because , the five seeds in the fruit are arranged like a star.You may likely see them displayed in trays by our roadsides and in our markets since it’s a highly seasonal fruit, it’s hardly available all year round except from December to April. For many, memories of ‘alasa’ are linked with memories of Christmas and New Year. Apparently there are two fruits by the same name ,one found in tropical Africa and one in West Africa. Well, we will place more emphasis on the own grown , sold, and eaten in West African , Ghana to be exact.
I recall my expression all crinkled up in reaction to the sour taste of the fleshy part. Well, it didn’t matter much; all I focused on was to make chewing gum. Oh and I had to chew for a stint before the gum developed but the result was so satisfying that it didn’t matter.
I am very well aware most people have doting memories of eating ‘alasa’.
“I didn’t know about the Alasa fruit until , i visited Accra . Honestly, the fruit looks nasty , i don’t enjoy it ” – Karim
” I only enjoyed the fruit back in Junior High School , I am now in the University and i don’t know but the fruit doesn’t appeal to me anymore ” – Emefa
” I really enjoy the ‘Alasa’ Fruit especially the pulp and i really feel occupied chewing it till it becomes Gum “- Theresa
The fruit is an exceptional source of calcium and vitamin c, which goes a long way to strengthen bones and teeth and also reduces the intensity of abdominal bloating and cramps in women.
Other nutritional elements present include vitamins B1 and B2, crude fiber, lipids, protein and Iron. The fruit also has traces of Potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, tannin and flavonoids.
Flavonoids have anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer, and hypolipidemic effects on the body. In addition flavonoids have been reported to be potent antioxidants and free radical scavengers, capable of shielding cell membranes from damage.
Both the skin and pulp of the Chrysophyllum albidum contains much more ascorbic acid than what is found in oranges. The immune system, eyes and even skin benefits tremendously from the high content of vitamin C.
Supplementary Health Benefits include ;
- Reduction in the risk of Heart diseases (by lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels)
- Sore throat (by reducing the burning sensation in the oesophagus)
- Tooth ache, Constipation, stomach ache, cancer, pneumonia, malaria and fever treatment, wounds, vaginal and skin infections
Fiscal Wise , the fruit can be justified in profitability apart from its health and benefits;
making soft drinks, fruit jams, jellies, animal feed, alcoholic beverages and wines for sale.Yes ! You can start a business right there.
So at least for health giving reasons, why not eat ‘alasa’ as part of a nutritious balanced diet when it is in season between December and April? It’s plentiful, affordable and readily available in those months, and who knows maybe one day it will be a commercialized product we can pick off supermarket shelves. Till then, enjoy ‘alasa’ as a snack any time of the day or as dessert after meals.