Try out this puzzle with your friend. Guess this fruit! When ripe, it appears like little orange; when cut, you may think its tomato due to its small white edible seeds, and when you eat, it tastes like pineapple or lemon! This exotic South American fruit belongs to family of nightshade and known as Solanum quitoense or naranjilla. The fruit grows on small thorny shrub which grows up to 10 feet tall.
Naranjilla is indigenous to South American countries like Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica and Guatemala. Most of the cultivation happens here. In Spanish, it is called naranjilla or “little orange”. It is known by similar names across South America – naranjilla de Quito, or nuqui (Ecuador,Peru), Lulum (Incas), lulun, toronja (Colombia). It is regarded as “royal fruit” for it extraordinary taste. It is called Morelle De Quito or Naranjille, Orange De Quito in French and Quito-Nachtschatten in German.
The skin of lulo is inedible. But the pulp of Lulo with its citrus flavor – sort of mix of rhubarb and lime, is often used as drink. Locals drink freshly made beverage by adding sugar to water and squeezing the fruit. It is also eat raw and fresh. To eat it one just need to cut the fruit vertically in two halves and scoop out fresh halves using a spoon.
Green Lulo juice is used in various baking products. It adds great flavor to ice cream, jelly, pie, chocolates and other desserts. Its flavor and taste may differ across varieties. Still its aroma, color and flavor make its good ingredient for juices and wine. Naranjilla jelly and marmalade is natural way of storing them for longer period.
Nutrients in Lulo fruit
Lulo fruit is almost fat free and has very low calorie content. It has high amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, riboflavin and thiamine. It provides ample amount of vital minerals like iron, phosphorus, calcium. It contains other phytonutrients which offer antioxidant qualities. It has been found to contain the stomach enzyme – pepsin, which helps in digesting proteins.
Health Benefits of Naranjilla
Like most citrus fruits, lulo offers strong antioxidant properties, protects our immune system, and detoxifies body. It is also helpful in relieving stress and offers whole lot of protective functions. Let’s discuss these health beneficial functions of lulo.
Lulo rich in antioxidant
The antioxidant capacity of foods is represented in terms of the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) values. Studies reveal that naranjilla has an ORAC value higher than those of fruits like banana, honeydew, cantaloupe, pineapple, kiwi fruit, nectarine, and watermelon while it has similar values to those of peach, navel orange, red grape fruit, pears, and tangerine. Antioxidants help in reducing the oxidative stress caused by the free radicals thereby delaying the process of ageing as well as preventing many serious health conditions like cardiovascular diseases and cancer. The carotenoid content found in the whole lulo fruit was similar or higher than those found in vegetables with high total carotenoid content, such as red paprika, kale, and parsley. Carotenoids help in maintaining healthy vision and also in preventing age-related macular degeneration.
Lulo boosts immunity
Lulo fruit is high in vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin A that plays a vital role in boosting your immune system. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps to fight off free radicals and protect your cells from oxidative stress. It also protects your body against disease causing pathogens by stimulating the production of white blood cells. Eating foods rich in vitamin c can help in preventing the common ailments like cold and flu.
Lulo improves digestive health
Lulo fruit is rich in dietary fiber, especially Pepsin, which is very useful for the health of the digestive system. In addition to improving the health of the digestive tract, fiber also aids in promoting digestion and in preventing many types of digestive disorders like bloating, constipation and even gastric ulcers.
Lulo is a heart healthy fruit
The presence of a wide variety of nutrients including dietary fiber in lulo makes it a heart healthy food. The fiber is beneficial in eliminating the LDL or bad cholesterol from the blood stream, thereby lowering the chances of serious conditions like atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes. The nutrients in this fruit also play a major role in improving the health of the cardiovascular system, thus promoting its optimal functioning.
Lulo is beneficial for diabetic patients
It is important for diabetics to eat a well balanced diet that helps in maintaining their blood sugar levels. Lulo has been found to be highly beneficial for people suffering from diabetes because the high amount of dietary fiber found in this fruit helps in regulating the amount of glucose which is released into the bloodstream.
Lulo benefits the eyes
Lulo fruit is extremely good for the eyes as it contains high amounts of vitamin A and beta carotene that are associated with the health of the eyes. These nutrients have strong antioxidant capacity, which helps in neutralizing the harmful effects of the free radicals that cause oxidative stress to the cells, including the cells of the eyes. This antioxidant property of lulo is thus beneficial in lowering your risks of developing eye disorders like macular degeneration and cataract.
Lulo can strengthen your bones
Minerals like calcium, phosphorus and iron are important for maintaining strong and healthy bones. Lulo is a good source of these minerals and hence its consumption helps in improving the bone density and in preventing bone disorders like osteoporosis.
Lulo fruit improves blood circulation
The consumption of lulo fruit helps in improving your blood circulation because it contains high levels of the mineral iron, which increases the number of the red blood cells. Improved blood circulation ensures increased oxygen supply to all the cells, tissues and vital organs of your body. Eating iron rich foods like lulo helps in preventing iron deficient anemia and also in promoting cellular regeneration and healing.
Lulo may prevent cancer
The high amounts of antioxidants in lulo fights off the free radicals that can cause mutations of the healthy cells, turning them into cancerous cells. Studies are being conducted around the world to find out the exact antioxidants and the way they work to give this fruit its powerful anti-carcinogenic properties.
Lulo is an effective stress buster
Lulo has been found to cause hormonal changes in the body, which helps in reducing stress and enhancing your mood. It is also helpful in promoting sleep and hence is a good remedy for those suffering from insomnia and other sleep disorders.
Lulo detoxifies your body
Lulo fruit has diuretic properties, which means that it increases the production of urine and hence increases the frequency of urination. This helps in cleansing your body by getting rid of excess toxins, water, salts, and even fat from the body.
Culinary uses of Lulo
Lulo is a versatile fruit that can be consumed in many ways. This fruit is usually eaten when it is fully ripe, during which its skin turns yellow or bright orange and the fruit yields to a soft squeeze. Ripe lulo should be stored in the refrigerator. Green lulos can be ripened at room temperature. It can also be eaten raw or cooked or made into juice. Lulo is used to make jams, jellies, other preserves and also in making fruit pies. In many countries like Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, and Venezuela, the pulp of lulu fruit is used to make toppings on ice creams, fruit salads, cakes and yogurt. The juice is sometimes used to make wine and other beverages. The juice of lulo is green in color and many people prefer that to orange juice. Lulada is a traditional Columbian drink made with lulo fruit, water and sugar. It has the texture and consistency of a smoothie. Champús is another drink made with lulo, pineapple, corn, and other ingredients.
- Lulo fruits (peeled and diced) – 5 to 6
- Water – 5 cups
- Fresh lime juice – 3 tablespoons
- Sugar according to taste
- Crushed ice
Method of preparation:
Take a bowl and add the lulo fruits, a few drops of water and the sugar. Mash the mixture with a fork or a spoon. After mashing thoroughly, add the remaining water, lime juice, and mix well. Add crushed ice to the fruit mixture and enjoy.
Lulo ice cream Recipe
- Frozen lulo fruit puree – 2 ¾ cups
- Milk – ½ cup
- Heavy cream – 1 cup
- Egg yolks – 4
- Sugar – 1 cup
Method of preparation:
Take the puree, milk, heavy cream and 3/4th of sugar in a saucepan and heat it over medium heat. Keep on stirring till all the sugar dissolves. Take a bowl and whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining sugar. Then slowly add hot milk while continuing to mix. Add this mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until it reaches a thick consistency and reaches 170 degree Fahrenheit. Strain the mixture into another bowl and chill until cold. Refrigerate the mixture for about 6 hours. Then freeze the mixture in ice cream maker and then keep it in the freezer for about 2 hours after transferring it in to an airtight container.
The lulo fruit has been a very popular and important fruit of Ecuador and Colombia for several centuries. It is referred to by many as the nectar of the gods and as the golden fruit of the Andes. Because of the difficulties involved in cultivating this fruit, it has not been introduced successfully in other parts of the world. The delicate nature of Lulo fruit and its inability to yield fruit outside of South America has prevented this fruit from becoming a popular fruit. With its wonderful taste and the nutritional health benefits, this exotic fruit has the potential to make it to the list of super fruits.Image Credits: Wikimedia - Fibonacci, Wikimedia - Orcates