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Everything You Need to Know About South Asia’s Ice Apple!


Mautushi Paul





null mins read

The ice apple (scientific name: borassus flabellifer) is a translucently white fruit mostly found in south India. It belongs to the family of arecaceae. It is called nungu in Tamil and is the fruit of the palmyra tree. It is sold in the months of May to September – ice apple season in India – by costermongers (roadside cart vendors). It comes in a purplish-blackish outer covering that contains five to six fleshly fruits. As Walt Whitman once said, “Your very flesh shall be a great poem.” If at all there is to be poetry in fruits, it can be found in this one. When bitten, it secretes a fresh juice that tastes somewhat like tender coconut water. Even the crusty ones possess this juice. It is a popular fruit in summer and very refreshing.

Ice Apple- What makes it so special?

The benefits of eating ice apple are immense. It is low in calories. There are a number of ice apple recipes available today. One of them is payasam which is made in south Indian homes. It is a nutritious fruit with a number of benefits for the skin.

Food value of the Ice Apple 

Ice apples are low in cholesterol and fats. They are very good for health-conscious people and diabetics. Since they are low in sugar, diabetics can eat this fruit without any problems, provided they consume them in moderation. They are packed with nutrients and minerals and are high in energy. What is best is they are a natural source of zinc, phosphorus and calcium, making them good for the bones. The fruit is also rich in vitamin B, C, K and E. Because it is a thirst-quencher, it aids in digestion and rehydration. 

At Orchids, kids love eating nungu. Monu from the sixth grade has been bringing it in her lunchbox since last month. She says, “I love nungu! Amma packs it in my tiffin box daily. I like eating it as a snack.” We ask her mother why she gets it. “There is a nungu seller just next to our house. I make it a point to buy it in the morning when he is available. Kids need to be hydrated… this is why it is necessary that parents give them fresh fruits instead of fried foods as snacks.” Our teachers at Orchids encourage your munchkins to eat wholesome foods. We try our best to talk to you parents about the benefits of careful eating. It is good eating that keeps your little ones active and growing.

Health benefits of eating ice apple fruit

During summer south Indian streets are lined with costermongers who cut the ice apple for customers. More benefits of eating it include the fact that it regulates body temperature by nourishing and boosting electrolytes in the body. If you are pregnant, it provides sustenance to the baby’s health. If you are facing digestive issues, it can aid in easing the gut and making it more robust so that foods can flow out easily. It possesses anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants that reduce the effects of unhealthy practices. It also fights chickenpox. 

A drink made up of the fruit is consumed in Odisha and the sap of the palmyra tree is also consumed as a coolant. It speeds up weight loss and is good for the internal layers of the skin. It is a good immunity booster as well. It contains vitamin C which makes it good for the outer skin as well, giving it a rare lustre.

At Orchids, our Early Years Programme requires students to be aware of the environment. We inspire them to know more about the connections between agriculture and the food market. Here are some top fruits, vegetables and juices you can enjoy this week.

The fruit closest to the ice apple is the coconut. It is its sister fruit. Children love eating ice apple in summer as it is cooling. There are a number of ice apple vendors online which sell it at half price. Since it is a fun snack adults also love devouring it. It has anti-ageing properties and has cancer-fighting micro-agents. It has wound-healing effects and is made up of laxatives, which might help in alleviating constipation. One can make jams out of it, peda and kheer as well. It is eaten in its sundried form in south east Asia, especially in countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Indonesia.

Other benefits of ice apple include regulation of body temperature (as it is a coolant). It prevents fatigue and balances the electrolytes in the body. It speeds up digestion and can soothe skin irritation in summer.

Are there any disadvantages of the Ice Apple? 

If you eat an overripe ice apple, it will cause stomach pain. Care should be taken also when buying it as costermongers tend to use dirty knives when scooping it out. As it is fleshly, attention should be paid when removing the crusty layers which are attached to it after scooping. So the next time you pass by an ice-apple cart, do not forget to buy!

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