Custard apples, also known as ‘sweetsop’, ‘sweet apples’, ‘annona’, are a fruit that is native to the tropical regions of America. It has sweet and creamy flesh. They are oval or heart-shaped. This unusual-looking fruit comes with green or yellow skin with a bumpy texture. The fruit’s flesh is white or pink and tastes creamy and sweet.
Custard apples are rich in nutrients, including vitamin C, potassium, and fibre. They are often eaten fresh or used in smoothies, desserts, and other sweet dishes. They have several potential health benefits.
Research suggests custard apples possess antibacterial, anti-diabetic, antitumor, anti-malarial and hepatoprotective properties. In addition, custard apples contain various compounds. This help regulates blood sugar levels. For example, it includes fibre, antioxidants, and compounds that have a similar effect to insulin.
Another research has suggested that custard apples may positively affect blood sugar levels and benefit people with diabetes.
Custard apples can benefit people with diabetes. But they should be consumed as part of a balanced diet in moderation as they are also high in calories and sugar. So let us examine how to incorporate them into your diabetic-friendly diet.
Diabetes and Custard Apples: What Does Science Say?
Custard apples are a healthy food choice for diabetes. These fruits are a good source of fibre. As a result, it slows glucose absorption into the bloodstream and thus they help regulate blood sugar levels. Furthermore, they also have a low glycemic index (GI) and have few calories. It means they are less likely to cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
Custard apples are a good source of antioxidants. For example, research suggests that fruits help manage blood sugar levels. Therefore, it benefits people with diabetes. However, it is notable that more research is needed to confirm these effects. In addition, it determines the appropriate dosage and duration of treatment.
One animal study found that consuming custard apple leaf extracts significantly reduced blood sugar levels in diabetic rats. The study also found that these extracts stimulated pancreatic cells. In addition, it increases insulin production in diabetic rats.
A compound called annonacin, found in custard apples, has anti-diabetic properties. It benefits type 2 diabetics by lowering blood sugar levels and enhancing insulin sensitivity.
It is important to note that custard apples have potential health benefits. However, it would help if you did not use it as a sole treatment for diabetes. Instead, it would be best if you indulged in regular exercise and medications prescribed by your doctor.
Glycemic Index of Custard Apple
The glycemic index (GI) measures how quickly food raises blood sugar levels. For example, custard apples have a low GI, ranging from 35 to 50. It depends on the specific variety and ripeness of the fruit. This means they are less likely to have a relatively mild effect on blood sugar levels than foods with a higher GI.
It is important to remember that the glycemic index is just one factor to consider when it comes to the impact of food on blood sugar. Other factors, such as the amount of carbohydrates, fibre, and fat in the food, can also affect blood sugar levels.
It is also important to consider portion size when considering the glycemic effect of food. A small portion of high-GI food may have a less pronounced effect on blood sugar than a more significant portion. It is also essential to consider the overall balance of your diet and choose various foods to help manage blood sugar levels.
Benefits of Custard Apples for Diabetic Patients
Custard apples, also known as cherimoyas, are a good source of antioxidants, fibre, and other nutrients. As a result, it offers several health benefits.
Here are a few ways that custard apples are beneficial for people with diabetes:
Rich in Fibre
Custard apples are a good source of fibre. It can help slow down sugar absorption and improve blood sugar control.
Research shows that custard apple leaves (recipes as provided at the end of the article) contain antioxidants such as flavonoids. They have anti-diabetic properties. It helps protect against oxidative stress and inflammation. It also contains antioxidants such as vitamin C. As a result, it reduces oxidative stress and improves blood sugar regulation in people with diabetes.
Low Glycemic Index
Custard apples have a low glycemic index. It means they get absorbed slowly by the body. And they do not cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. Hence custard apples keeps their blood sugar levels stable to avoid fluctuations.
May Help Lower Blood Pressure
Some studies have suggested that custard apples are high in potassium and magnesium. As a result, it positively affects blood pressure. It is an essential consideration for people with diabetes. High blood pressure can increase the risk of complications such as heart attack and stroke.
May Improve Insulin Sensitivity
Some research suggests consuming foods with high fibre and low glycemic index. It helps improve insulin sensitivity, which can benefit people with diabetes.
It is important to note that custard apples may benefit people with diabetes. However, only if one consumes it in moderation as part of a balanced diet. It is always best to speak with a healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your diet.
The HealthifyMe Note
Custard apples can benefit people with diabetes due to their low glycemic index (GI) and high fibre content. Foods with a low glycemic index are absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream. As a result, it can help stabilise blood sugar levels. The high fibre content of custard apples also helps to regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. In addition, they are high in antioxidants, which may help reduce the risk of diabetes complications such as heart disease and neuropathy. However, while custard apples offer some possible advantages to diabetics, it is vital to remember to consume them cautiously. And do not consider it a replacement for other diabetes management strategies.
Ways to Include Custard Apple in a Diabetes-friendly Diet
Custard apples can be part of a diabetic person’s diet plan in the following ways, for instance:
Mix 1/2 a cup of rolled oats, 1/2 a cup of almond milk, ½ diced custard apple, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. It creates a low-GI, fibre-rich breakfast that will help keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the morning.
Slice a custard apple into wedges and top with a tablespoon of almond butter. It combines healthy fats, protein, and fibre to help balance blood sugar levels.
Grill a chicken breast and serve it with roasted vegetables. Combine it with 1/2 a diced custard apple. The protein and fibre in the chicken and vegetables and the low-GI fruit keep blood sugar levels stable.
More ways to use custard apples or sitaphal in your diabetes-friendly diet:
- Mix diced custard apples with plain Greek yoghurt and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a healthy breakfast or snack.
- Puree custard apples and add them to smoothies or oatmeal for a nutrient boost.
- Make a fruit salad with diced custard apples, berries, and nuts for a satisfying and healthy dessert.
Use Custard Apple Leaves to Control Diabetes
Research shows that the leaves of the custard apple plant have medicinal properties. For example, it helps regulate blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
Here are a few ways you can use custard apple leaves for diabetes:
Boil a few fresh custard apple leaves in water for about 5-10 minutes. Strain the leaves and drink the tea hot or cold. You may drink this tea once or twice a day.
Grind the Leaves into a paste
Grind a handful of fresh custard apple leaves into a fine paste using a blender or a mortar and pestle. Mix the paste in a glass of water and drink it once or twice a day.
Add the Leaves to Your Diet
You can add fresh custard apple leaves to your diet by blending them into smoothies or juicing them.
Take a Leaf Extract
You can also take a leaf extract from the custard apple plant. You can make the extract by soaking a handful of fresh leaves in a cup of water overnight. Then, strain the leaves and drink the extract in the morning.
Custard apples and their leaves have many potential health benefits. However, it is still important to manage portion sizes and monitor blood sugar levels regularly. In addition, people should not use it as a substitute for conventional medical treatment for diabetes. It is always better to consult a doctor before beginning any new regimen.
In case you want to plan a diabetic-friendly diet, you may consider downloading the HealthifyMe app. The users get to manage their health and wellness goals. One of the features of the app is the ability to track diet and get personalised nutrition recommendations.
If you have diabetes and want to add custard apples to your diet, HealthifyMe Pro can help you do so in a way that is safe and beneficial for your overall health. HealthifyMe Pro can track whether your intake spikes blood glucose levels in real time.
Custard apples are a good source of fibre. It helps regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. They are relatively low in calories and have a low glycemic index. That means they are absorbed slowly by the body and do not cause rapid spikes in blood sugar. Additionally, custard apples contain antioxidants and other nutrients. Therefore, they may help protect against certain complications of diabetes such as heart disease and nerve damage.
It is essential to note that no single food can cure or prevent diabetes. Diabetes patients must control their condition with diet, exercise, and prescribed medication as directed by a healthcare professional.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Is custard apple high in sugar?
A. Custard apples contain some sugar. But the exact amount can vary depending on the specific variety and how ripe it is. In general, one medium-sized custard apple contains about 22 grams of sugar. It is relatively high compared to other fruits. However, it is still a natural source of sugar rather than added sugar. Custard apples are a good source of nutrients and are a healthy choice as part of a balanced diet. However, as with any fruit, it’s essential to eat them in moderation and to be mindful of your intake of added sugars.
Q. Who should not eat custard apples?
A.. Custard apples are a nutritious fruit that people of all ages can enjoy. However, if you are allergic to latex, you should avoid eating custard apples. They include proteins that are similar to those in latex. As a result, it could give an allergic reaction.
Q. Can I eat custard apples every day?
A. Custard apples can be a healthy and tasty addition to your diet. However, consuming them in a limit is essential. They are a good source of nutrients like fibre, vitamin C, and potassium. However, they also contain natural sugars that can contribute to tooth decay and weight gain. Eating various fruits as part of a healthy diet is generally recommended rather than consuming large amounts of any one type of fruit daily.
Q. Does custard apple increase cholesterol?
A. No, there is no significant research claiming that custard apples increase cholesterol levels. Conversely, consuming foods high in antioxidants, such as custard apples, helps lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health. It is worth noting, however, that as with any food, it is essential to eat custard apples in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
The Supporting Sources
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5. Zhu, H., Chen, L., Yu, J. et al. Flavonoid epimers from custard apple leaves, a rapid screening and separation by HSCCC and their antioxidant and hypoglycaemic activities evaluation. Sci Rep 10, 8819 (2020).
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7. Diabetes.co.uk, the global diabetes community
8. Kumar M, Changan S, Tomar M, Prajapati U, Saurabh V, Hasan M, Sasi M, Maheshwari C, Singh S, Dhumal S, Radha, Thakur M, Punia S, Satankar V, Amarowicz R, Mekhemar M. Custard Apple (Annona squamosa L.) Leaves: Nutritional Composition, Phytochemical Profile, and Health-Promoting Biological Activities. Biomolecules. 2021 Apr 21;11(5):614. doi: 10.3390/biom11050614. PMID: 33919068; PMCID: PMC8143160.