Sapodilla or sapota (chikoo) is a popular delicious tropical fruit in line with mango and kiwi. It has now joined the list of fruits that have proven anticancer properties.
Originated in the central American rain forests, probably in Mexico and Belize, today it has spread all over the tropical belt and is being grown as a major commercial crop in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Malaysia. The tree is fast growing, wind and drought resistant, and suitable for dry arid regions receiving scanty rains.
Sapota fruit is brown in color with sandy “kiwifruit like” outer surface but without the fuzziness. Internally, the pulp in unripe fruits is white with sticky latex called as saponin. Latex content gradually disappears as the fruit ripens, and its flesh turns brown. The ripe fruit is sweet with smooth or grainy texture, and has light musky flavor. It contains about 3-10 black, smooth, shiny “biconvex/bean” shaped, inedible seeds located at its center.
Sapodilla is high calories, 100 g provides 83 calories (almost same as that of calories in sweet potato, and banana). In addition, it is a very good source of dietary fiber (5.6 g/100g), which makes it an excellent bulk laxative. The fiber content helps relieve constipation episodes and help protect the mucous membrane of the colon from cancer-causing toxins by firmly binding to them.
Different components of the Sapota plant such as saponins and triterpenoids have been used in folk medicine and are known to exhibit anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, analgesic and spermicidal activities. Importantly, chemical constituents such as flavonoids, polyphenols, dihydromyrecetin, quercitin, myricitrin, catechin, epicatechin, gallocatechin and gallic acid have been isolated from fruits.
The study was undertaken by a team of scientists from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore and the Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology, Bangalore. The results were published recently in the Nature group’s journal Scientific Reports.
Phytochemicals have been considered as conducive for cancer prevention. Preclinical and clinical studies have established plant derived dietary substances as suitable candidates for treating various types of cancers due to their broad chemical diversity. Such phytochemicals can block the action of carcinogens on target tissues thereby suppressing cancer development. Hence, the risk of cancer can be repressed by eating more fruits, vegetables and other plant products.
Meta-analyses of cohort and case control studies show significant evidence for cancer preventive effects with fruit consumption as they are good sources of vitamins, minerals and fibers.
Experiments were carried out using different human cancer cell lines and mice induced to develop breast cancer to test and verify the efficacy of the sapota fruit extract in inhibiting cancer cell proliferation.
In the case of human cells, the anti-tumour potency was pronounced in the case of leukaemia. Of the two different human leukaemia cancer cell lines studied, the effect was pronounced in one of them (NALM6). The viability was “significantly affected” in these cell lines after 48 hours of treatment at extract concentrations of 1 mg/ml onwards. “Over 80 per cent of cell death was observed at 2 mg/ml concentration,” the paper notes. As expected, the effect of the sapota fruit extract on normal cells was “limited” compared with cancer cells.
Importantly, ~3-fold increase in lifespan was also observed at least in 50% of the mice (6/12 mice) when tumor bearing mice were treated Sapota extracts.
These results indicate that Sapota fruit can be used as a potent chemotherapeutic agent.
Top Health Benefits of Sapota
1. Apart from being a delicious fruit, the humble Sapota is known for the large amount of health benefits it can give the human body. This is because the fruit has plenty of nutrients in it which makes digestion easy, it also helps with refreshing the body and providing the body with a lot of energy in it, thanks to the high amounts of glucose found in the fruit. Since it is rich in tannins and minerals too, most consume it as a shake. For better eye sight as well, the Sapota in any form is good, since it has plenty of vitamin A in it.
2. Those who suffer from aches, pains and inflammation issues should have Sapota. This is because the fruit has plenty of tannins in it which makes it an anti-inflammation agent, say experts. Sapota in other ways also helps work with the digestive system, and it also keeps the body safe from issues such as irritable bowels, enteritis, oesophagitis and gas too.
3. The rich antioxidants found in Sapota can help the body stay safe and clear from cancers of various kinds. This is because of the vitamins A and B in them which helps maintaining the health of the mucus lining, say experts. Even the skins texture would be taken care of when the paste is applied as a body or face mask, and kept for twenty minutes. The nutrients and dietary fibre helps the digestive system too, and protects the body from cancers, the carcinogens in the fruit helps the colon stay safe and clean too. Lung, cavity and oral cancers too can be prevented when the fruit is consumed.
4. To have healthy bones, the body needs enough of iron, phosphorus and calcium, which Sapota has in abundance. Since the fruit is rich in minerals and vitamins, it helps the body have high bone density and gives the bones a lot of strength as well
5. The fruit is rich in dietary fibre as mentioned, which would help the digestive tract steer clear of constipation issues. In many countries across the globe, people consume Sapota as a laxative. The fibre in the fruit is known to break down the proteins and helps the food dissolve easily too. When food is dissolved well, the body then doesn’t suffer from issues such as constipation. Even the membrane of the colon would be cared for, and it is made stronger to help fight infections too.
6. Pregnant women would find a lot of help having Sapota, because of the high amounts of nutrients and carbohydrates in it. Lactating mothers especially face weakness, which is why Sapota is given to them. Other pregnancy symptoms can be taken care of when Sapota is eaten too, say experts
7. Blood loss can be an issue and one needs to stop it. Thanks to the fruit Sapota, this can be done, especially when internal injuries and piles happen to the body, both of which make the body lose a lot of blood. If there are stings and bites that cause blood loss, the seeds of the fruit can be crushed and applied on the affected areas, say experts
8. Anti bacterial and anti viral properties are found in the Sapota, because of the polyphenols found in the fruit. These compounds stop the bacteria from entering the body and the vitamin C in the fruit helps destroy free radicals which if left unchecked can create havoc.
9. For those who suffer from diarrhoea and loose motions, having Sapota would be of great help say experts, since the fruit has purgative properties in it. Apart from that, Sapota can help with mental health too, and since it is a sedative, it has the potential to calm the nerves as well. Stress and anxiety pangs can be beaten off, and that is why most consume the fruit to beat depression, insomnia and anxiety as well.
a. It is a well known fact that coughs and colds can be treated when Sapota is consumed. Phlegm is removed and the mucus too, the nasal tract is cleared and respiration is helped.
b. Sapota can help with removals of kidney stones too, when the seeds are crushed as used. This is because the seeds are diuretic and can help with bladder expelling and removal of stones as well
c. Consume Sapota and watch how you lose weight. The fruit is best for those who have bloating and obesity issues too, because it regulated the gastric enzymes and metabolism in the body too
d. Detox your body and do it by consuming Sapota. The fruit is diuretic and can help eliminate waste from the human system through frequent urination, say sources. Water retention would be prevented and no dehydration would happen.
About the author
Mae Chan holds degrees in both physiology and nutritional sciences. She is also blogger and and technology enthusiast with a passion for disseminating information about health.