One of the wonderful plant species of Chrysophyllum Albidum, which is popularly known in most Ghanaian languages as ‘alasa, alacha or asaa’ is in season.
In some part of Africa, especially Ghana, children and sometimes adults relish these smallish yellowish fruits.
Pregnant women are often seen savouring ‘alasa’ because it is said to prevent nausea. What is the nutritional value of this sour-fruit which attracts many people, especially children and pregnant women in most of Ghana?
According to a Senior Research Scientist at the Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute, Dr. S.K. Boateng, ‘alasa’ has a high content of ascorbic acid.
“The acid in ‘alasa’ is higher than those in oranges and guava. It is also a very good source of vitamins, irons, flavours to diets, magnesium, zinc, aluminium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and sodium, among others,” he added.
Dr Boateng said a recent study by Nigerian researchers indicated that the fruit could lower blood sugar and cholesterol and even be useful in preventing and treating heart diseases.
He said the first leaves from the seeds are used as ointments in the treatment of infertility, some skin diseases and infections in Nigeria and other African countries.
In Ghana, it is cultivated in cocoa growing areas, savannah and forest area, mostly found in the East Akim area, it takes between seven to eight years to mature.
Dr Boateng said other findings have revealed that the bark of the tree is used for the treatment of cough and yellow fever while the leaves could be used in treating malaria, high blood pressure and anaemia.
He said research had also proven that ‘alasa’ has high carbohydrate, basic fibre, fat, protein, calcium, iron, phosphorous, vitamins C, B1 and B2.
Dr Boateng recommended that the public should be made aware of the nutritive value of the fruit to increase its consumption as a food supplement to the larger population and expand its utilisation.
He said ‘chrysophyllum albidum’ belongs to a tree crop known as ‘sapotaceae’ and its juicy fruit was a great potential as an ingredient for soft drinks which could also be fermented for wine or other alcoholic production.
Dr Boateng said besides eating the fruit, ‘alasa’ is used for the production of fruit jams and jellies while the leaves had a high rate of minerals to improve the quality of the soil.
“There are scientists in some parts of our continent researching into the nutritional values of ‘chrysophyllum albidum’ which as the potential to be developed into chewing gum,” he said.
He said the tree generates income for rural households and is also used as a shade tree in cocoa farms in some parts of the county when the cocoa crop is low.
Source: The Spectator
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