BY: Raphael Tetteh
Chrysophyllum Albidum, a forest fruit tree commonly found throughout tropical Africa and popularly known in Ghana as ‘Alasa’ is medicinal due to its nutrients.
In some parts of Africa, especially Ghana, children and sometimes adults relish these smallish yellowish fruits, due to its various benefits. Just like any seasonal fruit, Alasa is normally seen during specific weather conditions. Wondering what kinds of nutrients and how medicinal this fruit is, let’s find more in the following report.
The African star apple is botanically known as Chrysophyllum albidum, is a common seasonal fruit in tropical Africa and our beloved Ghana. The Gas, Hausas, and Ewes call the fruit “Alasa” It is known as Alasema” to the Akans. To non-Ghanaians in the Western World, it is known as the African Star Apple or White Star Apple.
Personally, it is one of my favorite fruits. This motivated me to do some research to know if this favorite fruit of mine is worth the love I have for it. Another one of the seasonal fruits, ”Alasa” is the two most popular tastes of the fruit being sour or sweet depending on what you select when purchasing. In the southern part of Ghana, the innermost part of the fruit is sometimes masticated by one’s self to change its form into a chewing gum while some others use its seed for indoor games.
Research conducted by the African Research Review reveals that the African star fruit contains some vital nutrients needed by the body in daily doses. For example, the fruit is an excellent source of calcium and vitamin C, which goes a long way to strengthen bones. Again, the nutrients in the fruit also reduce 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 contains traces of potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, tannins, and flavonoids.
Flavonoids have anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer, and hypolipidemic effects on the body. Additionally, 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 contain much more ascorbic acid than what is found in oranges. The human immune system, eyes, and even skin benefit tremendously from the high content of vitamin C present in ‘alasa’.
In addition, to its benefits, it is in season between December and April. It’s abundant, cheap, and readily available in those months. Who knows? Maybe one day it will be a commercialized product we can pick off at various supermarket shelves. Till then, enjoy ‘alasa’ as a snack any time of the day or as dessert after meals. Here, at the CMB fruit market, Aunty “B” sells “alasa” and she tells me the season for cultivation, what determines the sweetness of the fruit, pricing, and why it’s good for human consumption.