|Gac fruit Quick Facts|
|Scientific Name:||Momordica cochinchinensis|
|Origin||South China through southeast Asia to north-eastern Australia|
|Colors||Green when young turning orangey-red to dark red when mature and ripe|
|Shapes||Large, 13 cm in length and 10 cm in diameter, ovoid, globose to oval, with sharp pointed protuberances and a rigid peduncle|
|Flesh colors||Light orange|
|Taste||Mild taste like Avocado|
|Major nutrients||Carbohydrate (13.38%)
Total dietary Fiber (4.21%)
Total Fat (0.86%)
|Health benefits||Combats cancer, Fights anemia, Helps lower cholesterol levels, Prevents cardiovascular diseases, Improves eyesight, Combats depression, Maintains youth and prevents aging, Helps Fight Prostate Enlargement|
|More facts about Gac fruit|
Gac fruit which is also known as Baby Jackfruit, Spiny Bitter Gourd, Sweet Gourd is actually a perennial twining, dioecious vine about 6 meters long. Vines can thrive in the warm humid tropics. It is hygrophilous, prefers sunny positions but is slightly shade tolerant. Plant prefers fertile organic, humus-rich and moist but well-drained soils, e.g. around ponds, rice-fields, and abandoned areas, and home backyards. They are often found growing on lattices or arbors in gardens and rural homes throughout Vietnam. The plant has an angular robust, glabrous stem and tuberous roots. Tendrils are simple and stout. Leaves are fairly large, alternate and deeply 3–5 palmately lobed with faintly dentate margins, cordate bases, glabrous, dark green above and lighter green below and petiolated. Flowers are monoecious, unisexual, solitary in leaf axils, white to ivory yellow. Female flowers have small bracts and a scabrous ovary while male flowers have broad reniform bracts, calyx tube is short with triangular lobes, and corolla has 5 yellow, ovoid-oblong petals and stamens. Flowering normally takes place from June to September. Plants survive for 10–12 years.
Gac is a bright-red fruit that grows as large as a cantaloupe and covered with short spines, hence it is sometimes referred to in English language as “Spiny Cucumber” or “Balsam pear”. Fruit are usually large, 13 cm in length and 10 cm in diameter, ovoid, globose to oval, with sharp pointed protuberances and a rigid peduncle. They are green when young turning orangey-red to dark red when mature and ripe. Each fruit weighs between 600 to 2500 g. Normally there are spines on the outside of the fruit and the interior is made of a fleshy pulp and seeds. The morphology of Gac fruit from outside to inside is a thick yellow mesocarp, followed by a red aril and a yellow core in the middle. The seeds inside the arils are flat, hard and brown or black. The Fruit has mild taste just like avocado. It’s only harvested for two months each year (December and January) and is often used on special occasions in Vietnam as well as in traditional Chinese medicines. Traditionally, gac fruit, seed and its leaves are used as a traditional medicine in the regions where it grows.
Gac fruit is considered to have originated from south China through Southeast Asia to north-eastern Australia. It is cultivated in southern China, Indo China and Thailand. But nowadays due to its higher nutritional value as well as health promoting benefits and amazing look and taste it is cultivated throughout the world with suitable environment.
Apart from their mild taste like Avocado, Gac fruit is a good source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Consuming 100 gram of gac fruit offers 17.4 g of Carbohydrate, 1.6 g of Total dietary Fiber, 2.1 g of Protein, 36 mg of Calcium, 0.3 g of Total Fat and 0.9 g of Ash.
Health benefits of Gac Fruit
Gac (Momordica Cochinchinensis Spreng or Muricia Cochinchinensis Spreng) is an indigenous fruit of Vietnam, commonly used as a colorant in traditional dishes. Recent studies showed that this fruit had a high carotenoid content, especially lycopene and Beta-carotene. These carotenoids are presently in high demand as they are natural antioxidants to prevent and treat cancers. Listed below are few of the health benefits of consuming gac fruit:
1. Combats cancer
GAC fruit consist of several nutrients that are proven to prevent cancer and also slow down the multiplication of cancerous cells. It is also recently found that this fruit contains a particular protein that helps to prevent the proliferation of cancerous cells. Because of this specific reason GAC has earned the name “Heaven’s fruit”, as it has several methods of fighting cancer.
2. Fights anemia
Gac fruit consists of abundance of iron as well as Vitamin C and folic acid, due to which it is quite beneficial for combating Anemia. It is suggested to find the cause of anemia and depending on the condition start consuming this fruit. Regular consumption of this fruit is extremely beneficial for overcoming the problems.
3. Helps lower cholesterol levels
Gac fruit is recommended for those that have higher cholesterol levels as well as to those who have a history of high cholesterol in their family. If consumed weekly, this fruit helps to reduce the “unwanted” high cholesterol levels from your body.
4. Prevents cardiovascular diseases
As mentioned before this fruit is high in antioxidants so it helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases. If this fruit is consumed and accompanied with an active lifestyle, your heart’s health is assured. Cardiovascular diseases represent a high problem for many; therefore this fruit plays a vital role in maintaining your health.
5. Improves eyesight
This fruit is quite beneficial for enhancing eyesight. The vitamins, beta carotene, and other substances present in this fruit helps in better one’s eyesight as well as prevent cataracts and other eyesight problems.
6. Combats depression
Depression is a serious medical condition in which a person feels very sad, hopeless, and unimportant and often is unable to live in a normal way. Many people around the world are suffering from this problem nowadays. Gac fruit when consumed frequently help to overcome this problem since it is rich in selenium, minerals, and vitamins, which are important to the nervous system, as well as help to combat depression.
7. Maintains youth and prevents aging
Aside from the health benefits this fruit provides, it also inhibits aging and maintains one’s youthful appearance. It slows down the aging process as it encourages cellular activity as well as reduces stress. The vitamins and minerals this fruit contains help to maintain the skin’s youthful appearance. It encourages rebuilding of the collagen subcutaneous structures, as well as prevents the appearance of wrinkles.
8. Helps Fight Prostate Enlargement
Gac fruit heals benign prostatic hyperplasia or prostate enlargement. Thus decrease the prostate and improving urine flow. And the sweet pulp around the seeds have 70 times more lycopene than that found in tomatoes… great for healing prostate disease. So consume Gac fruit regularly to fight prostate enlargement problems.
How to Eat
- The fruit is used for food and medicine in Southeast Asia.
- The aril – red, oily pulp surrounding the seeds, is cooked along with seeds to flavor and give its red color to a rice dish, xoi gac, which is served at festive occasions like weddings, birthdays, Lunar New Year (Tet) in Vietnam.
- Unripe fruits are used as vegetables and in curries.
- Young leaves are consumed as vegetables by the Karen communities in Thailand, in Bali, Indonesia and in the Philippines.
- Young fruits, leafy shoot and flowers are used in curries in Thailand.
- After boiling they are eaten with chili sauce and rice.
- Young leafy shoots are also fried with oyster sauce and pork or shrimp.
Other Traditional uses and benefits of Gac Fruit
- Seeds of the Momordica cochinchinensis known in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as “Mubiezi” have been utilized in China for more than 1,200 years.
- It is traditionally used for a variety of internal and external purposes that include the treatment of inflammatory swelling, scrofula, tinea, diarrhea as well as suppurative skin infections such as sore, carbuncles, furuncles and boils in both humans and animals.
- Seeds are thought to have resolvent and cooling properties, and are used for liver and spleen disorders, wounds, hemorrhoids, bruises, swelling, and pus.
- Gac is prized by natives for promoting longevity and vitality in Vietnam.
- Oil is believed to revitalize the spleen and stomach and improve eyesight.
- Oil is recommended for the treatment of children rickets, xerophthalmia, nyctalopia, poor appetite and general weakness.
- It is beneficial for pregnant and breast feeding women.
- It is also laxative and used for constipation and also for diarrhea.
- Oil is applied externally for wounds, burns and sores.
- Oil in combination with antibiotics is used for acne.
- Oil is considered as a good source of vitamin A.
- Seeds are mainly recommended for external application and are recommended for furunculosis, scrofula, mastitis, galactophoritis and hemorrhoids.
- Powdered seeds are used internally with warm rice wine for malaria with splenomegaly.
- Ground seed extract is applied externally for boils, impetigo and scabies as liniment.
- Roots are considered to remove damp heat, activate blood circulation and promote urination.
- Roots are applied in the therapy of rheumatism, inflammation, swelling of legs and oedema.
- Seed membranes (arils) are used to make a tonic for children and lactating or pregnant women, and to treat “dry eyes “and night blindness.
- Root extracts are used to remedy hair falling, insect bite, cough, hemorrhoid and to eliminate poisonous substances, and as a contraceptive in Thai traditional medicine.
- Pulverized seeds are pectoral and used for cough and also for hemorrhoids in Philippines.
- Seeds and leaves are considered aperient and abstergent.
- Roots are used as soap substitute and for treatment of head lice and a plaster made from roots are used to promote hair grown.
- The Chinese were reported to use the seeds as aperients and in treating tumors, malignant ulcers and for obstructions of the liver and spleen in peninsular Malaysia.
- Seed oil is used as illuminant in indo China.
- Roots are rich in saponins and are used as soap in laundering.
Side effects and cautions
Several parts of the fruit are toxic and should never be eaten. These include the skin, the outer rind, as well as the sides, which look like a cantaloupe due to their texture. Eating these parts doesn’t have deadly consequences but can make a human sick for several days. The edible parts are the big seeds, as well as the thin, soft and oily layer of pulp that surrounds them.