The African star apple, locally called Cherry, *(Agbalumo)* is in full bloom. You can see the fruits on sales along the highways and roadsides all over the country, especially in the Southern part of Nigeria. Cherry, botanically called Chrysophyllum albidum, belongs to the family of Sapotaceae.
It is popularly called Udara in Igbo, Agbalumo in Yoruba, and Otien in Edo. While many find the taste unpleasant, some find the sticky nature of the inner pulp of the fruit unappealing. The health benefits of cherry are what makes it difficult to ignore. Compared with other fruits, cherry is among the healthiest fruits available.
Cherry is a good source of calcium providing about 10% of the amount needed by the body. Calcium lends strength to the bones and teeth, and it may also lessen symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
Cherry is highly recommended for pregnant women because it reduces salivation and is one of the best natural sources of Vitamin A and C. In fact, the Vitamin C found in the pulp of cherry is said to be higher than the ascorbic content of Orange and guava.
The fruit also provides calories which makes the fruit a good snack. The fruit possesses antioxidant properties which give the body a better chance of fighting and avoiding heart disease and cancer. The fruit contains fibre which aids digestion, and it is also ideal for weight watchers. While most people seem to be interested only in the cherry fruit, all other parts of the plant are in fact very useful. The leaves contain hypoglycemic (lowering blood sugar) properties and anti-platelet activities. The stem can be used as a chewing stick as it contains anti-bacterial properties and is a natural remedy for a toothache, constipation and indigestion. Remember to swallow your spit when using the stem as a chewing stick.
The roots and barks when boiled are excellent remedies for cough, yellow fever, high blood pressure and Diabetes. An infusion of the leaves can be used to wash wounds as an antiseptic, and as remedies for diarrhoea, and constipation.
In this age when many people are struggling with of obesity, cherry is a good fruit to have around. The fruit is excellent for maintaining a healthy metabolism, and therefore suitable for losing weight. It is unfortunate that after eating the pulp of the cherry fruit, we always throw away the skin.
The cherry skin is, in fact, one of the most medicinal parts of the cherry plant. I recommend chopping the rind into pieces and then blend a handful in half a litre of water. This is one of the best preparations for weight loss and for diabetes. Blending the skin gives you access to the full benefits of the fibre, and you will be amazed at the burst of energy you will feel after drinking it.
by Fr Anselm Adodo