Health benefits of Santol Fruit

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Santol fruit Quick Facts
Name: Santol fruit
Scientific Name: Sandoricum koetjape
Origin Indochina and Peninsular Malaysia, and has been introduced into India, Borneo, Indonesia, Mauritius, the Andaman Islands, and the Philippines
Colors Yellowish to brownish-golden, sometimes blushed with pink
Shapes Globose or oblate capsule, with prominent or shallow wrinkles extending a short distance from the base, 4.5–7.5 cm across
Flesh colors White, translucent, juicy, sweet
Taste Sweet-and-sour taste
Health benefits Reduce Bad Cholesterol (LDL), Prevent Diabetes, Prevent Cancers, Control Body Weight, Prevent Hemorrhoids, Immune System Booster, Treatment of Diarrhea and Constipation, Maintain Healthy Teeth, Bone Health, Prevent Anemia, Prevent Alzheimer, Delay Aging Process,Anti-allergy,Treating Leucorrhea and Other Vaginal Infections, Tonic after childbirth,Termite Repellent and Insecticide, Mosquito Repellent
Santol also referred to as Kechapi, Lolly Fruit, is an ornamental evergreen tree belonging to Mahogany family Meliaceae. Known scientifically as Sandoricum koetjape, the plant goes by several other common names including Kechapi, Lolly Fruit, Santol, Sentol, Wild Mangosteen, Red santol, cotton fruit, sandal, sentul, Sayai and Visayan. The plant is native to Indochina and Peninsular Malaysia, and has been introduced into India, Borneo, Indonesia, Mauritius, the Andaman Islands, and the Philippines where it has become naturalized. It has also been introduced into China, Taiwan, Australia and into a few locations in Central America and Southern Florida. It is usually cultivated in Asian countries and its fruits are abundant in local markets during the season. It is a round, juicy fruit as big as a big apple in sized.

The Filipinos like it even in sour condition and generally eaten with some salt. In the local markets of the Philippines the santol is always for sale in normal quantity. Santol are also used to make marmalade. Several parts of the santol plant have anti-inflammatory properties. They are used for the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery. These are also used vinegar and mixture of water as a carminative. It is also used for tanning fishing nets. The aromatic, caustic root is also a potent remedy for diarrhea. The root is a tonic for stomachic and antispasmodic.

Plant Description

Santol fruit is a deciduous, small to large ornamental evergreen tree up to 50 m tall with a straight trunk, flaky or fissured, lenticillate, and greyish to pale pinkish-brown bark which exude milky latex when bruised. Bole, which is sometimes straight but often crooked or fluted, is branchless for up to 18 meters. It has a diameter up to 100 cm and buttresses up to 3 meters high. The plant is found growing in dry as well as moist lowland dipterocarp forest, and also in kerangas. It occur scattered in primary, sometimes in secondary rain forests. It can be grown in acid sandy soil and oolitic limestone. The tree is completely intolerant to frost.


The plant has alternated; trifoliolate long-stalked compound leaves are spirally arranged. Petiole is up to 18.5 cm long. Each leaf has 3 leaflets that are elliptic to oblong-ovate with pointed tips and rounded bases, and entire or wavy leaf margins.  The apical leaflets are 6–26 cm long and 3–16 cm wide, and the lateral leaflets are smaller, 4–20 cm long and 2–15 cm wide. Leaflets have sunken veins that create an uneven leaf texture. Leaflets are glossy green above, pale green below, and the undersides can be densely covered by short, soft brown hairs. Dark green leaves become bright red before dying.


Flowers are fragrant, bisexual, that are pinkish yellow, yellowish green, or white-yellow, about 1 by 1.3 cm, possessing five free petals. Calyx is cup-shaped, 5-lobed; staminal tube cylindrical with 10 split teeth at apex. The flowers are loosely arranged in axillary branched inflorescences known as panicles (15 to 30 cm in length). Flowering typically occurs once a year.


The fruit is a globose-depressed capsule, with prominent or shallow wrinkles extending a short distance from the base, 4.5–7.5 cm across. The thin or thick rind has a wrinkled, softly hairy surface and contains a milky juice. They are initially green turning to yellowish to brownish-golden, sometimes blushed with pink. The white edible, translucent juicy pulp surrounding the seeds (known as arils) may be sour to sweet. The fruit has 3 – 5 brown, ovate to ellipsoid inedible seeds that are 2–3.5 cm long, which are usually tightly clinging or sometimes free from the pulp. It easily reproduces by seed, to be planted within few days, as it has a short lasting germination capability. In this case, we shall have to wait 5-7 years for seeing the first blooming.


The various Santol are distinguished as botanical species rather than as cultivars. There are two general types of santol: the Yellow (formerly S. indicum or S. nervosum); and the Red (formerly S. koetjape).

1. Yellow Santol

 The leaflets of the Yellow type santol fruit are 6 in (15 cm) long, turn yellow when old. Flowers are pinkish-yellow in panicles to 6 in (15 cm) long. Fruit has a thin rind and the pulp is 1/4 to 1/2 in (0.6-1.25 cm) thick around the seeds and typically sweet. The fruit may not fall when ripe. Only the Yellow is now found wild in Malayan forests.

2. Red Santol

The leaflets of the Red type santol fruit are 12 in (30 cm) long, velvety beneath, turn red when old. Flowers are greenish or ivory, in panicles to 12 in (30 cm) long; Fruit has a thick rind, frequently to 1/2 in (1.25 cm); there is less pulp around the seeds, and it is sour. The fruit falls when it gets ripe.

Health benefits of Santol Fruit

Santol fruit is wildly known for its many health benefits from its leaves, fruit skin, and barks. People from Indochina, Malaysia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka use the plant as traditional medicine. Let’s take a closer look of health benefits of santol fruit below:

1. Reduce Bad Cholesterol (LDL)

Santol fruit consists of pectins, a soluble fiber. Pectin, along with good cholesterol (HDL) will bind with bad cholesterol (LDL) in intestines, preventing the fats to be absorbed into our circulatory system. High level of LDL contributes to hypertension, stroke, and heart disease.

2. Prevent Diabetes

Santol fruit is good for diabetic people. Santol fruits are rich in fiber and have a low glycemic index. Fiber slows down foods digestion, therefore decreasing the absorption of sugar into blood. This effect will controls blood sugar level. This is good for controlling body weight too.

3. Prevent Cancers

As stated earlier, santol fruit consists of plenty of antioxidants that help to prevent growth of cancer cells. In one research, rats with mammary tumors were given extracts from whole santol fruits every day, and after some time, the number and size of the tumors were much reduced. More recent study was able to separate a new ring-A secotriterpene and koetjapic acid. The 2 compounds exhibited cytotoxic activity against cancer cells.

4. Control Body Weight

Santol fruits consist of both soluble and insoluble fibers. Foods that are rich in fiber can fill us up and help us feel full longer. It makes our food cravings lower, while improving our overall health with all nutritional compounds it has. Many health problems are associated to obesity, such as cardiomyopathy, stroke, hypertension, diabetes hormonal disorders and sleep disorder.

5. Prevent Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoid are vascular structures in the anal canal, they help controlling the stool. It becomes disease when they are swollen, inflamed, bleed and thrombosis. Vitamin C in santol fruits helps promoting healthy endothel in blood vessels. Fibers help keep the stool in soft consistency. When the stool is soft, we don’t need to strain in defecating process. Constant straining during defecating process is known to make thrombosis hemorrhoids. The increase of abdomen pressure during defecating process will make the blood can’t circulate normally around the lower abdomen, and then thrombosis will be formed.

6. Immune System Booster

Santol fruits contain quercetin, an antioxidant that can help boost our immune system. Quercetin is a flavonoid that can be found in most of vegetables and fruits. It is supposed to promote prevention and treatment of cancer, but it still needs more research about relationship between quercetin and cancer.

Since antioxidants are needed in our body, it doesn’t hurt to consume quercetin, including the one that is contained in santol fruits. Our body needs antioxidant to prevent cell damage and to keep the cells grows normally. Vitamin C contained in these fruits also boosts our stamina.

7. Treatment of Diarrhea and Constipation

Fiber contained in Santol fruits can help defecation process. Fibers can either pull water from out of our colon or absorb excess water from our stool to keep our stool in soft consistency. This makes defecating process much easier.

8. Maintain Healthy Teeth

Just like apples, biting and chewing santol fruits stimulate salivary glands to produce more saliva, thus reducing dental caries by lowering the number of mouth bacteria.

9. Bone Health

Calcium and phosphorus in this fruit helps maintain density of bones and teeth, thus preventing osteoporosis and maintaining strong enamel in teeth.

10. Prevent Anemia

Anemia is a condition of lacking healthy red blood cells. Santol fruits consist of iron, a very important mineral for producing red blood cells. These fruits also contain vitamin C. Vitamin C is known to help the intestine absorb iron effectively.

11. Prevent Alzheimer

Recent research reported that drinking santol juice regularly can keep Alzheimer away, thanks to high antioxidants contained in this fruit. The antioxidants can fight the aging process of the brain.

12. Delay Aging Process

High production of collagen makes our skin look youthful and tight. Vitamin C is also known as antioxidants along with carotenes and quercetin contained in the fruits. Routine consumption can heal minor inflammations that make our skin wrinkle. Vitamin C also prevents scurvy.

13. Anti-allergy

Santol fruits consists of Sandorinic acid and Bryonotic acid. Both of these compounds are good agents for preventing and treating allergies. If you have allergies, you can eat some santol fruits regularly.

14. Treating Leucorrhea and Other Vaginal Infections

For vagina infection, the bark is boiled, and then the water is used to wash the vulva and vagina daily.

15. Tonic after childbirth

People in Malaysia use the water of boiled santol bark as a tonic after childbirth, to restore systems of the body.

16. Termite Repellent and Insecticide

Bark extract of santol tree can be used to repel termites; the quality is the same as commercial products. But the killing effect is not quick, we need to apply the extract daily for a few day. Since it is a natural insecticide, it is environmentally friendly, organic, no unpleasant odors, and doesn’t contain dangerous chemicals.

17. Mosquito Repellent

There was a study in the Philippines about how to convert santol stalks into mosquito coils. The study was successful to make santol mosquito coils. The product has no side effects to human and animals. Santol mosquito coils effectively repel the mosquitoes, thus reducing the number of malaria, dengue fever, and any mosquito diseases that happen frequently in tropical countries.

Traditional uses and benefits of Santol Fruit

  • Fruit, leaves, bark, roots, sap of the santol tree is variously used medicinally in traditional medicine.
  • Preserved fruit pulp is used medicinally as an astringent.
  • Seed consists of an amorphous bitter principle.
  • Pounded leaves are sudorific when applied to the skin for skin infections or rashes.
  • Leaves are used to make a decoction against diarrhea, fever and as a tonic after childbirth.
  • Fresh leaves are placed on the body to cause sweating and a patient is bathed in a santol herbal tea to bring down fevers in Philippines.
  • Poultice of powdered bark is used to treat ringworm.
  • Bark consists of traces of a bitter principle, a toxic alkaloid and the bitter sandoricum acid.
  • Aromatic roots are used as an anti-diarrheic, anti-spasmodic, carminative, antiseptic, astringent, and stomachic and are prescribed as a general tonic after childbirth.
  • Bitter roots, bruised with vinegar and water, is a carminative; used for diarrhea and dysentery.
  • Fresh or recently dried roots are swallowed for colic.
  • Traditionally, a decoction of the bark is used by Malays as a tonic after childbirth in Malaysia.
  • It maintains muscle nerve movement and strengthens the muscles.
  • It prevents diseases like Alzheimer disease and slows down the process of cell degeneration.
  • It improves the blood flow to the Heart.
  • It helps in eliminating excess cholesterol from the body.
  • The antibacterial properties of Santol fruit reduce bad breath and cavities in the mouth.
  • Santol fruit has phytonutrient content which prevents the multiplication of cancerous cells.
  • Santol fruit prevents the body from allergies. It flushes the allergens and toxins out of the body.
  • Santol fruit is rich in fiber and has a low glycemic index. It prevents in sudden rise and fall of sugar levels in the blood.
  • Santol fruit is also considered good for Diarrhea.
  • Pounded leaves are sudorific when applied to the skin and are used to make a decoction against diarrhea and fever.
  • Powdered bark is an effective treatment for ringworm, and contains triterpenes with anti-cancer activity.

Culinary Uses

  • Ripe fruit is usually consumed raw plain or with spices added.
  • Both the rind, as well as the pulp which adheres tightly to the seeds, is edible and can be eaten straight off the tree.
  • With the seeds removed, the pulp is also cooked and candied or made into marmalade, jam or preserved in syrup.
  • Santol marmalade in glass jars is exported from the Philippines to Oriental food dealers in the United States and probably elsewhere.
  • Very ripe fruits are naturally vinous and are fermented with rice to make an alcoholic drink.
  • Young fruits are candied in Malaysia by paring, removing the seeds, boiling in water, and then boiling a second time with sugar.
  • In Filipino cuisine, grated rind is cooked in coconut milk (with bits of pork and hot pepper) and served as sinantolan in Southern Luzon.
  • The partly ripe sour fruits are also used as a souring agent in sour broth dishes like sinigang.
  • In Thai cuisine this fruit is used to make som tam when still not fully ripe. It is also one of the main ingredients in the santol and pork and santol and prawn Thai curries.

Other Facts

  • Santol tree makes an excellent shade tree.
  • Besides being planted for its fruits, it is often planted for aesthetic purposes along avenues and in parks and also use as boundary or barrier or support tree.
  • Tree is important in soil conservation; its roots form vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizae which improves the soil.
  • Fruits are used as fish bait in Sarawak and the seeds has insecticidal effect.
  • Santol also provide valuable moderately hard and heavy timber which is useful for house-posts, interior construction, light-framing, barrels, cabinetmaking, carvings, ceiling, framing, furniture, hat-racks, posts, sculpture, boats, carts, sandals, clogs, butcher’s blocks, household utensils, fences and carvings.
  • The fragrant wood is used in perfumery.
  • Bark yield tannin which is used in tanning fishing lines.
  • Extracts from santol seeds also have insecticidal properties.
  • Poles from the tree are used for fencing.
  • It is used to make a good quality charcoal.


Ginataang Santol


  • 4 pieces santol peeled and seeds removed
  • 1/4 lb. ground pork
  • 3 cups coconut cream
  • 2 pieces long green pepper siling pansigang sliced crosswise
  • 5 pieces Thai chili or siling labuyo
  • 3 tablespoons shrimp paste
  • 1 medium red onion minced
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil


  1. Mince (cut into very small pieces) the santol using a food processor. Note: you can also do it manually, if preferred.
  2. Place the minced santol in the middle of a cheese cloth. Secure the santol inside the cloth and then wring until all the liquid comes out. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a pan. Saute garlic and onion.
  4. Once the onion starts to get translucent, add the ground pork. Continue to cook until the pork turns light brown.
  5. Add the minced santol. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Pour coconut milk into the pan. Let boil. Stir and cover the pan. Continue to cook in medium heat until the liquid reduces to half.
  7. Add shrimp paste, siling pansigang, and Thai chili. Stir. Continue to cook until the liquid completely evaporates.
  8. Transfer to a serving plate. Serve.
  9. Share and enjoy!

Santol Juice


  • 4-6 pcs. santol
  • 3 cups + 2 cups water (1 cup is 8 oz.)
  • 1 ½ cup refined sugar
  • Ice cubes


  1. Peel the santol fruits. Scoop out the seeds and immersed in 1 cup water while peeling santol fruit.
  2. Chop the peeled santol inner flesh into tiny cubes, soak it in 1 cup water.
  3. Squeezed out the juice from the soaked seeds. Add it to the minced santol flesh.
  4. Prepare syrup by boiling 3 cups of water with 1 cup of sugar.
  5. Pour in the soaked santol water without the flesh. Let it boil and turn off heat. Let it cool.
  6. Transfer juice into a pitcher and add in the cubed santol flesh. Stir it well. Allow the santol juice to soak in for a few hours inside the refrigerator.
  7. Optional: you can squeeze calamansi juice or lime for an added flavor.
  8. Serve it chilled with ice cubes. Enjoy!






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