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Food for Life - Caribbean - Ackee

Ackee is a perennial evergreen tree growing up to 10–12 m and thrives well in full sun or partial shade and prefers deep, fertile loamy soils with abundant moisture, but makes satisfactory growth on shallow sandy soils or calcareous soils.

Ackee is a colorful and delicious fruit that is a popular addition to numerous exotic dishes and has become a backbone in Caribbean cuisine, because of its flavor and its beneficial health properties. It is pear shape and is green in color which turns into yellow-orange when completely ripe. When ripe it splits open to reveal three large, shiny black seeds, each partly enclosed by soft, creamy or spongy, white to yellow flesh. The yellow edible fruit is known as the aril. The base of each aril is attached to the inside of the stem-end of the “jacket” by pink or orange-red membranes. The fruit of the Ackee is not edible. It is only the fleshy arils around the seeds that are edible. The remainder of the fruit, including the seeds is poisonous. The fruit should be picked after the fruit has opened naturally, and must be fresh and not overripe. Immature and overripe ackee is also poisonous! Arilli are tender and are normally added to the dish last, and cooked through when the cream colored ackee turns yellow. Fruit has tastes like scrambled eggs and is delicate flavor. This fruit is used in many dishes and cuisines and is the national fruit of Jamaica.

Ackee is a good source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Consuming 100 gram of Ackee offers:

  • 15.2 g of Total Fat
  • 30 mg of Vitamin C
  • 240 mg of Sodium
  • 1 mg of Zinc
  • 0.7 mg of IroN
  • 2.7 g of Total dietary Fiber
  • 1.1 mg of Vitamin B3
  • 2.9 g of Protein.

Health benefits of Ackee

Ackee is packed with vitamins, nutrients, and organic components that make it a useful dietary tool for a number of health conditions.

1. Blood Pressure

It is recommended to increase the intake of potassium for those who are suffering from high blood pressure. Therefore it is best to include Ackee in your normal diet to increase your potassium content since it consists of 270 mg of potassium which is 5.74% of the daily recommended value.

2. Protein Power

Protein is one of the key ingredients of a healthy diet and getting it from a delicious fruit like ackee is even wonderful! Protein is basically the building block of cells, muscle tissue, as well as other important aspects of our body that needs to be repeatedly replenished. Ackee isn’t always admired for its high protein content, but it is remarkably high for a fruit.

3. Digestive Issues

The rich fiber content of ackee makes it a perfect digestive aid, since dietary fiber helps to bulk up stool, and eradicates constipation, simply by inducing peristaltic motion in the gut. Apart from that it helps move food along, preventing bloating, cramping, constipation, and other inflammation of the colon, which may result in more serious issues like colorectal cancer. Similarly dietary fiber helps to lower cholesterol and boost heart health!

4. Bone Strength

Ackee is loaded with numerous essential minerals like calcium, Zinc, phosphorous and irons all of which contribute to healthier bones as well as help to avoid bone loss and demineralization. Regular intake of minerals can slow, stop, or reverse the effects of osteoporosis as we age, leaving us stronger for longer!

5. Fights off Colds and Flu

Vitamin C contained in Ackee is beneficial for immune system and plays an important role in your body’s capability to fight off colds and viruses. 1000 mg of Vitamin C is appropriate to fight off an oncoming cold whereas 4000 mg per day is required to get rid of a cold that is previously in your system.

Regular use of Ackee during colds and flu can help to reduce the risk of developing further complications, like pneumonia and lung infections.

6. Circulation

Lack of iron or insufficient iron is one of the most common causes of anemia. Ackee’s higher iron content solves that problem impeccably, ensuring that you avoid the side effects of anemia like weakness, digestive distress, cognitive disorders and lightheadedness. Iron is a key component of hemoglobin, which is essential to produce RBC (red blood cells).

7. Heart Health

Aside from its effect on blood pressure, ackee also boasts a remarkable range of beneficial fatty acids, like stearic, linoleic, and palmitic acids. Those acids are unsaturated fats, which is the type of fat that you want to increase your heart health and lower dangerous cholesterol levels. By removing most unhealthy saturated fats from the diet, you can protect yourself from atherosclerosis, strokes, heart attacks, and coronary heart disease.

8. Immune Effects

Vitamin C is one of the most common vitamins found in fruits and vegetables and ackee is no exception. With a rich ascorbic acid content, ackee helps to boost our immune system by encouraging the development of white blood cells, and contributing some of its antioxidant powers to avoiding chronic diseases and cellular mutation. Additionally, vitamin C is an integral part of collagen, which is necessary for the body to make muscles, blood vessels, and tissues.

9. Prevention of Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps are mainly caused due to electrolyte imbalance & dehydration and are quite common in the summer months. Sodium present in ackee is responsible for muscle contraction as well as hydration. Sodium rich juices and fluids help to restore the amount of electrolyte. Ackee is one of the best options for getting required amount of sodium since it contained 240 mg of sodium which is 16.00% of the daily recommended value.

10. Diabetes Control

Ackee is rich in complex, energy-producing carbs, which help to normalize the sugar levels in your body. By avoiding the dips and spike in glucose levels that you get from simple sugars, ackee helps to fend off Type II diabetes. Higher fiber content in ackee is a great way to control glucose and insulin levels in the blood.

Information sourced from www.healthbenefitstimes.com




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