Star Fruit

Star fruit, also known as carambola, is the fruit of the Averrhoa carambola tree. Although star fruit is most abundant in tropical areas, such as India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, it is widely distributed around the world.

Star fruit is dark green when it is unripe, but it turns glossy yellow as it ripens. Ripe star fruit is fleshy, crunchy, and juicy and has a sweet and slightly tart taste. Smaller star fruits are more tart than the larger fruits.

When sliced horizontally, the fruit resembles a star, which is why it is named “star fruit”.

Nutritional Value

Star fruit is low in calories and is a great source of vitamins and other nutrients as well as antioxidants including the following:

  • Fiber
  • Protein
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B5
  • Calcium
  • Sodium
  • Folate
  • Copper
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium

Health Benefits of Star Fruit

Anticancer potential. There is promising research that star fruit could help in preventing cancer. The fiber in the fruit reduces toxicity levels in the body, which helps lower your risk of getting cancer.

Anti-inflammatory ability. The high levels of antioxidants in this fruit make it a good anti-inflammatory that can help ease symptoms of psoriasis and dermatitis.

Weight loss promotion. High fiber in star fruit can help also boost your metabolism and allow you to lose weight. Also, because each serving is low in calories, you can enjoy star fruit as a tasty snack without worrying about putting on weight.

Immunity boosting ability. Star fruit provides you with a boost of vitamin C, which ensures that your body will produce the right level of white blood cells for a strong immune system.

Improved respiratory health. Because of its anti-inflammatory potential, this fruit can help soothe your sore throat. Its juice cuts through mucus and phlegm, making it a popular choice for treating respiratory infections and supporting your overall health.

Improved heart health. The high amounts of sodium and potassium in star fruit act as electrolytes in our body, helping maintain proper blood pressure. This also ensures a regular heartbeat and healthy blood flow.

The calcium in star fruit can also relieve tension on your blood vessels and arteries, which helps reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Improved digestion. The fiber in star fruit can stimulate the movement of stool through the digestive tract, relieving symptoms of constipation, bloating, cramping, and diarrhea.

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Health Risks

Eating star fruit may have a harmful effect in people with kidney disease.

Also, although star fruit has many helpful nutrients, it also contains toxic substances called neurotoxins. These can affect the brain and cause neurological disorders. Although people with healthy kidneys can process and pass this toxin out of their bodies, this is not possible for people with kidney disease. The toxin stays in the body and causes serious illness for people with these diseases.

The symptoms of star fruit poisoning include the following:

  • Hiccups
  • Mental confusion
  • Seizures
  • Death (in severe cases)

If you have kidney disease, it is crucial to avoid eating star fruit and to talk with your doctor to learn more about the effects of star fruit or any other fruit you may have questions about.

People who take prescription drugs should also consult with a doctor before eating star fruit. 

How to Eat Star Fruit

Star fruit tastes best when eaten ripe. Unripe star fruits may taste excessively sour and even bitter.

If you buy a green-ribbed star fruit, let it ripen until it turns yellow. Keep the fruit at room temperature, occasionally turning it, until its fragrant "perfume" develops. You are looking for a full floral-fruity aroma, which indicates that the fruit has its best taste.

The fruit can be continued to be stored at room temperature if you are going to serve it in a day or two. If not, refrigerate the ripe fruit to increase its shelf life.

You can prepare star fruit by simply doing the following:

  • Cleaning it with water
  • Cutting off the edges
  • Not peeling the skin
  • Slicing it horizontally

You can also try pairing the fruit with avocados, kiwis, mangoes, and bananas in a fruit salad or in a puree.

As an edible garnish, you can saute star fruit slices for a second or two, and sprinkle with sugar to glaze. Pair this with fish and poultry dishes, or use it as a substitute for lemon or lime slices to garnish chilled beverages. 

The Verdict

Star fruit is a delicious, nutritious fruit that is low in calories but packed with vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants.

People with kidney problems or those who take prescription drugs should consult with a doctor before eating this fruit.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on June 22, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

Bioinformation: “Nutritional, Medicinal and Toxicological Attributes of Star-Fruits (Averrhoa carambola L.): A Review.”

NATIONAL KIDNEY FOUNDATION: "Why You Should Avoid Eating Starfruit."

Organic facts: "11 Best Benefits of Star Fruit (Carambola).

The Spruce Eats: “How to Prepare Star Fruit.”

verywellfit: “Star Fruit Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits.”

© 2021 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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