Fruits that Heal, Part 1

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables daily. This is my consistent advice to anyone wishing to keep themselves fit and healthy. Evidence-based medicine has proven that the daily consumption of fruits and vegetables prevents heart disease, hypertension and cancer, particularly colon cancer. The latest research also shows that this daily habit, together with exercise and eight hours of sleep in darkness, can help slow down the aging process.
Fruits contain generous amounts of potassium, magnesium and calcium. These minerals are key to preventing and lowering high blood pressure and heart disease. Fruits that are high in potassium include avocados, bananas, coconuts, guavas, mangos, melons, papayas, all varieties of oranges, strawberries and watermelons.
Cashew nuts, sesame seeds and soy beans are excellent sources of magnesium. Bignay, duhat, guava, papaya, pineapple and pomelo are rich sources of calcium. All fruits contain plenty of antioxidants and phytochemicals, which play a role in preventing cancers.
Here are fruits that heal:
Avocado (Persea Americana Mill.): Nutrition-wise, the fruit is a rich source of vitamin A and vitamin B complexes, especially niacin, pyridoxine and panthothenic acid. It is also high in iron, potassium and phosphate.
Among all local fruits, avocados have the highest fat content. But do not fear, as the fat contained in avocados is a good type of cholesterol. The fruit’s fatty acids are mainly linoleic and palmitoleic acids. It also contains an unusual sugar called d-manno-heptulose. Protein content is 1.3 percent to six percent. Every kilo of the fruit provides 800 to 1,000 calories.
Medicinal uses: The bark and leaves of avocado contain volatile oils and tannin, and extracts of the fruit and its seeds have been reported to exhibit antibacterial effects. For arthritis and rheumatism, the seed of the fruit and the bark of its tree can be used. Chop these into pieces and pound into a powder. Cook with equal amounts of coconut or baby oil for three minutes. Strain, cool and apply as a liniment to affected areas.
For diarrhea, a decoction of avocado leaves can be used. For washing wounds, boil enough leaves in a small pot of water. Use as a wash when lukewarm or cool. A mild tea made from avocado leaves is also soothing and relaxing.
Anonas (Anona reticulata L.): The fruit is a good source of vitamin C and carbohydrates and is rich in pectin. It contains 6.2 percent dextrose and 4.2 percent levulose.
For diarrhea, the nearly ripe fruit can be eaten as much as can be tolerated. The bark contains tannic acid and alkaloid. For washing wounds, a decoction of the bark can be used. The seeds of anonas also contain an alkaloid that has insecticidal properties against scabies and hair lice.
Balimbing (Averrhoa carambola L.): The fresh fruit is usually eaten with salt. It can also be made into pickles and sweets and the juice is often used for seasoning. It is a reliable source of iron and vitamins B and C and contains oxalic acid and potassium oxalate.
For fever, a cooling drink can be prepared by crushing two to three ripe fruits in a glass of water, then add sugar to taste.
Our traditional healers have used the poultice of the fruit for bleeding hemorrhoids. The fruit is also eaten to stimulate the appetite, regulate the flow of saliva and encourage bowel movement.
Bignay (Antidesma bunius L.): The ripe fruit is eaten with salt or prepared into jam and wine. It is a very good source of calcium and a reliable source of iron. It is recommended for medicinal use to counter fever. Mash a handful of ripe fruits in a glass of water and add sugar to taste.
Duhat (Syzygium cumini L.): The fruit can be eaten ripe and is often shaken with salt and made into a juice or wine. The fruit contains calcium and iron while the bark, leaves and flowers contain tannin.
For diarrhea, eat liberally the fleshy portion of the fruit or boil some chopped fresh leaves in two glasses of water for 15 minutes, then cool and strain. Divide the decoction into four parts and take one part every two to three hours.
For wounds, skin ulcers and sore gums, boil two handfuls of chopped leaves in a small pot of water for five minutes. Cool and strain then use as a wash or gargle.
Our traditional healers have used various parts of duhat for diabetes. The decoction of the bark or powdered seeds are also used and the fruit is eaten liberally. However, scientific research has not been conducted on the use of duhat for diabetes.
Granada (Punica granatum L.): The fruit is a good source of vitamin C, carbohydrates and iron. The bark contains alkaloid, tannin and glucoside and has been found to have anti-fungal and antibacterial effects. The fresh juice can be taken for nausea and indigestion. A decoction of the dried fruit is also taken to relieve stomach ache. The bark is washed, pounded and used as a poultice for skin fungal infection.
Guyabano (Anona muricata L.): The fruit is eaten raw when ripe, and is rich in sugar, and vitamins B and C. The unripe fruit can be made into lumpia, ginataan or ginulay, just like jackfruit or langka. The leaves contain essential oil and resin. The bark contains a poisonous alkaloid. The seed contains an irritant oil that kills lice. Our traditional healers have used the unripe fruit to cure diarrhea.
Kamias (Averrhoa bilimbi L.): The fruit is rich in vitamin C. It is commonly used as a flavoring for cooking and is recommended for medicinal use on fever. Mash two to three ripe fruits in a glass of water and add sugar to taste. Our traditional healers have used the decoction of the leaves as a bath product after childbirth. A tea infusion of the flowers can be used for cough.
More fruits that heal next time.

By Jaime Z. Galvez Tan, MD MPH

The author is the chairman and founder of Health Futures Foundation, Inc., a civil society organization working to create communities of wellness in marginalized communities nationwide.