Melinjo-Gnetum gnemon



Melinjo Quick Facts
Name: Melinjo
Scientific Name: Gnetum gnemon
Origin Native to Assam, Vietnam, Cambodia, Peninsular Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. It is cultivated everywhere in southeast W Yunnan, Xizang in China.
Colors Yellow, purple-red, orange-red (Fruit)
Shapes Ellipsoid, ovoid, Length: 1-3.5 cm, Width: half (Fruit)
Taste Distinct bitter
Calories 92 Kcal./cup
Major nutrients Manganese (1478.26%)
Copper (211.11%)
Iron (195.00% )
Zinc (107.27%)
Potassium (13.28%)
Health benefits Brain health, Assist growth, Regulate the temperature, Skin health, Prevent stroke
More facts about Melinjo
Melinjo (Gnetum gnemon), also known as Daeking Tree, Gnemon Tree, Joint-Fir Spinach, Paddy Oats, Melinjo Nut, Meminjau, Bago, Belinjo and Padi oats is a species of tree in the family Gnetaceae. Gravels varieties, Sticky rice varieties and Varieties of barrel shaped are the common varieties of Melinjo.

It is native to Assam, Vietnam, Cambodia, Peninsular Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Melinjo fruit is well suited to tropical rainforest. The Melinjo tree is widely cultivated for the food purposes. It has ellipsoid fruit about 1-3.5 cm long and half as wide. Leaves are simple and dark green. The fleshy strobili weigh about 5.5 g and the seeds weigh about 3.8 g. Melinjo is most commonly used in the Indonesian cuisines.


It is cultivated everywhere in southeast W Yunnan, Xizang in China. Melinjo is a natural resveratrol which is extracted from the Melinjo seeds. The tree is native to the Southeast Asia. Melinjo is the common name for the plant. The Indonesian people were consumed for the centuries.

Melinjo’s history is traced back to the Yogyakarta Kindgdom, where the tree of Melinjo was grown in high concentration. The people of Yogyakarta have prolonged life expectancy in Indonesia, 10% more than the rest of population.

Melinjo is sophisticated throughout the Indonesia.  The leaves, flowers and seeds are used as ingredient in various dishes. Melinjo seeds are used to produce emping. Emping is available in the well-stocked Asian supermarket. Additionally Melinjo tree provides various benefits. In the villages, it provides shade which makes the pleasant living conditions during the extreme tropical heat. In the Indonesian agro-forestry, Melinjo tree is considered vital plant. (1)


Melinjo trees are small to medium, dioecious and evergreen, growing to 5 to 10 m in height depending on the species. The leaves are opposite, simple, elliptical-oblong, dark green; 8-20 cm long and 3-10 cm wide. The fruit can grow up to 1-3.5 cm long and half as wide. Its shape ranges from ellipsoid to ovoid and color ranges from yellow, purple-red to orange-red. The fruit has large seeds of ovoid or ellipsoid shape. The tree has woody, round and gray bark. It has well branched stem, cylindrical bole and 40 cm as a diameter.

Nutritional Value

The serving size of 100 grams of Melinjo fruit grants 92 calories, 72.6 gm of moisture, 5.2 gm of protein, 2.1 gm of fat, 1.8 gm of ash, 13.3 gm of carbohydrate and 5.2 gm of crude fiber. It also provides 1478.265 of manganese, 211.11% of copper, 195% of iron, 107.27% of zinc, 13.28% of potassium, 12.38% of magnesium, 11.71% of phosphorus, 10.40% of protein and 10.23% of carbohydrate.

Health Benefits of Melinjo

The seeds of Melinjo has high amount of antioxidants which helps to treat cancer, heart disease and aging. It provides various health benefits which are discussed below:

  1. Brain health

Manganese is vital for the brain functions and also treats the nervous disorders. The superoxide dismutase eliminates free radicals from the body which includes the neural pathways. The free radicals affect the brain and other parts. Manganese binds the neurotransmitters and promotes the efficient transmission of the electrical impulses in the body and also speeds up the cognition. (2)

  1. Assist growth

Copper is required to maintain the health and growth. It is essential to add this mineral to the balance diet daily. It helps to prevent the skeletal, cardiovascular and nervous systems. The one with copper deficiency have it would be impossible to have the oxygenation of red blood cells and healthy growth of tissues and organs. The deficiency of copper results the defect of growth in the third world countries. (3)

  1. Regulate the temperature

Iron is essential for the regulation of body temperature. It helps to regulate the body temperature according to the absorption capacity of body. The metabolic and enzymatic functions should happen in the efficient temperatures and environments. (4)

  1. Skin health

Zinc helps to treat the acne and pimples effectively. Zinc helps to enhance the functions of white blood cells which are vital for the healing process. It prevents the infections, ulcers, canker sores, surgical incisions, burns and wounds. It is essential for the collagen production which is a connective tissue important for the regrowth and repair of skin. (5)

  1. Prevent stroke

Potassium is essential for the normal functioning of brains. The high amount of potassium transports the oxygen to the brain by enhancing the cognitive function and neural activity. It helps to prevent the development and growth of stroke. It performs as a vasodilator and relaxes the blood vessels in the body. It assists in the flow of blood freely and less chances of break off or clot which causes strokes. (6)

  1. Treat cramps

Magnesium helps to cure the kidney stress, relaxes back muscles and muscular tension. It assists in the calcium absorption which speeds up the bone healing. The deficiency of calcium in the body shows the symptoms such as cramps in legs and general fatigue. The adequate intake of calcium helps to aid the problem of chronic leg cramps. (7)

  1. Kidney health

Phosphorus helps in maintaining the kidney health. It promotes the waste release form the kidneys through excretion and urination. It increases the frequency and quantity of urination so that the body maintains the balance amount of water, uric acid, excess salts and fat. Phosphorus promotes the fluid balance which makes the healthy body and toxin free. (8)

  1. Muscles

Protein is essential for the coordination and contraction of muscles. Proteins in the form of microfilaments are found in the muscle tissues which provide structure to the muscles. The growth of muscles depends on the present of adequate amount of protein in the body. It is very important to balance the synthesis of muscle proteins. (9) (10) (11)  (12)

  1. Regeneration of cells and tissues

Healthy body results due to the restoration and renewal of cells as well as tissues in the body. The body requires the fixed supply of amino acids to form the proteins that helps to manufacture new tissues and cells such as hair, skin and nails. The cells found in the skin, digestive system and blood last for a couple of weeks and then perish. During that time the new cells begins to create and replenish the decreased ones. The protein helps in the process of revival of new tissues and cells which helps to maintain the good health. (13) (14) (15)

  1. Hair health

Protein helps to maintain the health of hair and prevents its damage. The studies shows that the protein has a vital role in the growth of hair. As protein has beneficial effects, it is used in the hair products like conditioners. (16)

Traditional uses

  • In traditional medicine, the sap of leaf is used to cure eye ailments in traditional medicine.
  • The Melinjo seeds are used to increase stamina.
  • During early days, this plant is mixed with other ingredients to treat the dog bites.
  • The plants help to treat the diseases such as anemia.
  • The protein found in this plant helps to eliminate free radicals which lead to the diseases such as high cholesterol, hypertension, blood vessels narrowing, premature aging etc.

How to Eat

  • Melinjo is generally used in Malay and Indonesian cuisines.
  • The young inflorescences, leaves and ripe fruits are cooked as vegetables.
  • In Malaysia, young shoots and leaves are widely used with sea food such as prawns and fish in the coconut milk or also used in the spicy soups.
  • Seeds are eaten boiled, raw, roasted and processed into crackers or flat cakes.
  • In Indonesia and Peninsular Malaysia, the sun dried cakes are used to prepare emping.
  • Emping is consumed with gado-gado, rice or as a snack with coffee or tea.
  • Melinjau is a vital ingredient for Sayur Asem which consists of peanuts, melinjau, jackfruit, chayote, carambola fruit, tamarind and long bean.
  • In Vanuatu, male inflorescence and leaves are boiled which is flavored with coconut cream.
  • In Fiji, the young leaves are cooked with coconut milk.
  • In Philippines, the fruits are a great substitute for coffee.
  • In Papua New Guinea, young cones and leaves are cooked with meat and sauce which is made from the red pulp of Pandanus conoideus.
  • The leaves are used to wrap the food.
  • The seed has a fleshy coating which is fried and produces a chewy snack.
  • Its female strobilus, young leaves and male strobili are used as an ingredient in the traditional vegetable curry which is called kuah pliek.
  • In Pidie, keureupuk muling is made from the ripe fruit.
  • Leaves, seeds and flowers are used as a vital ingredient in dishes.