A researcher at the Biochemistry and Biotechnology Department of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Dr Christopher Larbie says a study is ongoing to see if the African star apple (Alasa) fruit could be used to treat liver and kidney diseases.
Dr Larbie said the focus was to develop the fruit into an easy-to-use drink and further assess the liver and kidney protective effects of the fruit extract.
The researcher who was recently nominated as an affiliate of the Africa Academy of Science from 2021-2025, indicated that he, together with some undergraduate students are working on the project.
He is advocating the increased consumption of the fruit as it had a lot of nutrients that were beneficial to humans.
The African star apple (Chrysophyllum albidum), known locally as ‘alasa’, ‘alasma mma’ or ‘adasa mma’ is an indigenous fruit primarily found in tropical regions such as Ghana and Nigeria.
Dr Larbie said the fruit had anti-hypertensive, anti-cancerous, anti-diabetic, weight reduction properties and could be used to treat several ailments as well as taken as food supplements.
Research, he said, indicated that the fruit was rich in vitamins, especially Vitamin C, and had low calorie and fat content.
Vitamin C ensures protection against immune deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, wrinkling of the skin as well as protection of cells against effects of free radicals.
Dr Larbie said since the fruit was a seasonal product, steps were needed to process it and make it available all year round given its importance.
“It is a seasonal fruit; thus it is not obtained year-round. Therefore, there is a need to cultivate more of them and process to make them available all the time,” he stated.
Alasa fruit, which is bright orange coloured, generally has a sweet or sour taste depending on the size and intensity of skin colour.
All parts, thus the fleshy parts and skin are edible except the seeds.
It contains alkaloids, tannins, saponins, flavonoids and terpenoids which are proven to have numerous medicinal properties.
The fruit is a natural remedy for toothache, constipation, sore throat, mouth gum disease and others.
The leaves or bark can be used in treating diarrhoea and dysentery, yellow fever and malaria.
Its leaves are also helpful in treating wounds, skin rash, stomach pain and diarrhoea.
African star apples can be beneficial when it comes to weight reduction – one serving of the fruit contains 67 calories- which makes it a good choice for people with weight issues as they get fewer calories consuming it.