How to Eat Star Fruit

The Gossip on Star Fruit
Botanical name: Averrhoa carambola

Star Fruit Nutrition Facts

The five-angled star fruit, also known as carambola, is a waxy, yellow-green fruit that originated in the sultry, tropical area of Sri Lanka. It grows on a small, bushy evergreen tree, first bearing clusters of small lilac, bell-shaped flowers that become the oblong fruits.

Today, star fruit is cultivated in Australia, South America, Hawaii, Florida and Asian countries such as Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. Because it’s known to be intolerant of cold environments, it's best to grow star fruit in moist temperatures.1

The most unique visual quality of the star fruit is its shape — a perfect star when it's cut across the middle. There are two varieties of star fruit, and the challenge is telling them apart. One is deliciously sweet, described as a cross between an apple and a grape, and the other is sour. The sweet type has ribs with thicker flesh, while the other has narrow ribs.2 Some contain two to five tiny, edible seeds in the center of each angled cell.3 One of the great benefits of star fruit is that the entire thing – waxy coat and all – can be enjoyed.

Besides the more common yellow variety, which may have touches of brown on the outer ridges (although there are several sweet types that are white), this is one fruit that can be purchased while it’s still green and set aside for a few days to ripen to perfection. If too ripe, however, the fruit turns yellow and develops brown spots. Refrigerating is a good way to extend its shelf life for up to one week.4

Star fruit may be used for juice drinks or blends, smoothies, salsa, chutney and salads, although they're also good to eat as it is, like an apple. When cooked, the tart varieties work well for imparting a unique zing to poultry, meat and seafood dishes, and even cooked desserts. As a garnish, they're unrivaled.5

Because they have a tendency to bruise, it's best to buy star fruits while they're firm and they must be handled with care.6

Health Benefits of Star Fruit

It comes as no surprise that the greatest amount of nutrients in star fruit is derived from vitamin C, providing 57 percent of the daily recommended value in a serving.

Vitamin C may help ward off colds, flu and other types of infection. In fact, a study found that individuals in extreme arctic climates such as military personnel, skiers and researchers experienced significant cold tolerance to as much as 50 percent after taking healthy amounts of vitamin C daily.7

Another reason vitamin C is called an essential vitamin is because it's needed by the body to form collagen in the bones, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels, and it aids in the absorption of iron. One of the most notorious consequences of lack in vitamin C is scurvy, which early sailors discovered and remedied with different types of tropical fruits including star fruit.8 Although it is rare nowadays, scurvy may have severe consequences, so treatment for patients affected with this disease typically begins with vitamin C.9

Smaller amounts of dietary fiber, copper, niacin, and potassium (which can prevent muscle cramps by increasing blood circulation) are important components of this fruit. B-complex vitamins like folates, riboflavin and pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) are also present in star fruit, Which may help in the metabolism of the body.

The average star fruit contains around 30 calories, fewer than any other tropical fruit per serving. Along with its high fiber content, it's a great choice for anyone wanting to manage their weight, prevent constipation and keep their digestive system running smoothly. It also helps lower the absorption of LDL ("bad") cholesterol while protecting the colon from toxic substances by binding to cancer-causing chemicals that happen to be passing through.

Flavonoids in star fruit such as quercertin, epicatechin and gallic acid have antioxidant properties that offer their own benefits, including the neutralization of harmful free radicals that can cause inflammation.

Traditional Brazilian folk medicine made use of star fruit as a diuretic, an expectorant and cough suppressant.10 Its leaves have been used to help ease headache, gastroenteritis, boils and angina. Powdered star fruit seeds have been used to help relieve asthma and colic. However, dialysis patients or those with possible renal failure symptoms have reportedly developed neurological symptoms, and are advised to strictly avoid eating star fruit.

Remember to consume star fruits in moderation because they contain fructose,11 which may be harmful to your health in excessive amounts. Check out the nutritional composition of star fruit below.12

Starfruit Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), raw
Amt. Per
Serving
% Daily
Value*
Calories 31
Calories from Fat 3
Total Fat 0 g 1%
Saturated Fat 0 g 0%
Trans Fat
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 2 mg 0%
Total Carbohydrates 7 g 2%
Dietary Fiber 3 g 11%
Sugar 4 g
Protein 1 g
Vitamin A 1% Vitamin C 57%
Calcium 0% Iron 0%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie

Studies on Star Fruit

A 2004 study evaluated the inhibitory effects of tropical fruits on midazolam hydroxylase activity of CYP3A (a major xenobiotic (a chemical compound such as a drug, pesticide, or carcinogen foreign to a living organism) metabolizing enzyme in human liver microsomes. Eight tropical fruits were tested including papaw, dragon fruit, kiwi fruit, mango, passion fruit, pomegranate, rambutan and star fruit. The results showed that star fruit juice has the most effective properties to restrain CYP3A.13

Preliminary results of another extensive study supported the use of A. carambola (star fruit) as an anti-inflammatory agent and introduced new possibilities for its use in skin disorders. Star fruit was noted for being rich in antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds, which inhibit reactive oxygen species. O-glycosyl flavonoid components such as quercetin, rutin (a component in fruits known to help prevent heart attack and stroke) and cyanidin were identified as components of star fruit. Additionally, insoluble fibers found in star fruit slowed the absorption of carbohydrates that significantly cut blood glucose levels down.14

The fiber content of star fruit can help prevent cardiovascular disease by reducing serum triglyceride and total cholesterol levels.15 In addition, a 2014 study found that star fruit extract may be used to fight liver carcinoma cells.16

How to Eat Star Fruit

Although you can combine star fruit in your favorite recipes, you can actually enjoy it by itself. This fruit is best eaten ripe and you’ll know it’s ready through its vibrant yellow color. Star fruit may have some dark brown markings along the five ridges, but don’t worry because this is normal. Choose those that are still firm, not mushy, and do not have brown spots all over.

Whether you want to eat star fruit by itself or use it in your recipes, it’s important to learn how to slice it properly. Here’s what to do:

  1. Wash the fruit thoroughly using plain running water. Scrub it with your fingers to ensure any loose dirt in between crevices are removed.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut the fruit across its broad side so that it is divided into star-shaped slices that are at least 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch wide.

You may remove the seeds and the brown edges, although these are also edible. Once you’ve properly sliced it, you can now eat and enjoy this fruit17 or use it as a healthy ingredient for recipes, such as the one below:18

Star Fruit Healthy Recipe:
Star Fruit Soup

Star Fruit Healthy Recipes

Ingredients:

2 free-range chicken drumsticks

1 star fruit, sliced

1 teaspoon lemon grass

1 teaspoon kaffir lime leaves, shredded

4 ounces shallots, chopped

4 cups free-range chicken stock

2 teaspoons small tomatoes

1 ounce fish sauce

1 ounce black soya sauce

1 ounce white soya sauce

2 teaspoons coriander, chopped

1 red chilli, shredded

Procedures:

  1. Place the chicken stock in a saucepan and boil the drumsticks until tender. Add black and white soya sauce to taste.
  2. Put sliced star fruit, shallots, tomatoes, lemon grass and shredded kaffir lime leaves in the pan and season with fish sauce to taste. Cook further for five minutes.
  3. To serve: pour into one large or two individual bowls and decorate with coriander and red chili. Serve warm or hot.

Star Fruit Fun Facts

A common citrus fruit in the Southeastern Asia and Pacific Island regions for centuries, star fruit dates as far back as the 2,000-year-old Silk Road trade route between China and Rome during the Tang Dynasty.19

Summary

Hanging on the tree, star fruits look like odd little lanterns. It's when you slice them around the middle that they render the perfect star formation that is so fun to serve as a garnish or in salads with other succulent fruits. This exotic tropical fruit is also grown in the warmest areas of America and Asia, and its two main varieties are sour and sweet.

But beyond its ability to render any salad more colorful and tastier, star fruit is packed with vitamin C as an infection fighter, plus antioxidants, flavonoids, fiber and potassium. Studies have shown it to be effective in lowering the risk of liver cancer and diabetes, with more research continuing.