Water apple, also known as watery rose apple or simply, rose apple, that goes with the scientific name Syzygium aqueum, is native to South East Asian countries and to certain tropical regions of India.
Commonly reffered to as "Chambakka" or “Pani Seb” in Hindi, “Jambu” or “Panneer Naval” in Tamil, “Jambakka” in Malayalam and “Gulaabijamichettu” or “Gulaabijamikaayalu” in Telugu, this succulent, delicious fruit is popular for its thirst-quenching properties.
Water apple confers several benefits for human health and is prized for its therapeutic applications for treating various ailments, including heart conditions and liver disorders. The unique medicinal properties of this fleshy fruit are well-documented in traditional Indian practices of medicine - Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani.
The name “water apple” tends to be confusing, as it is sometimes interchangeably used to refer to any plant of the Syzygium genus. Hence, it is primarily important to understand the differences in nomenclature of two common plants from the Syzygium category - the wax apple and water apple, in order to accurately highlight the nutritional values of the latter.
What Is The Difference Between Wax Apple And Water Apple?
The wax apple fruit goes with the scientific name Syzygium samarangense and is commonly called Java apple. On the other hand, the water apple fruit has the scientific name Syzygium aqueum and is generally referred to as rose apple or watery rose apple. The confusion arises when sometimes, the Java apple is also termed as water apple and this situation does occur in published articles, gardening terminologies as well as when it is sold in markets commercially. However, this is a misnomer and the correct synonym for water apple is rose apple.
Where Do Water Apples Grow?
Water apple plants naturally thrive in wet, warm and humid climatic conditions, where the soil has rich moisture content. Its native environments include tropical South-East Asian countries namely Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, India and Sri Lanka. Due to its amazing advantages for enhancing overall health, they are also acclimatised and cultivated in temperate environments of Hawaii, Florida and California in the United States, as well as in southern regions of Australia.
The water apple tree belongs to the Myrtaceae family and grows up to a height of 3 to 10 meters. With a coarse tough deep-brown bark supporting widespread branches, the leaves of this tree have a prominent sheen and are long and narrow. This plant blossoms in the summer months of May through August, with pale green, cream and white flowers in full bloom.
From August through November, upon developing, the fruits are creamy-green in colour (green water apple) and turn a bright pinkish-red once completely ripened (water apple or rose apple). The ripe water apple fruits are bell-shaped, have crimson colored skin on the outside encompassing a white, juicy flesh within. They ooze a mildly pleasant aroma and usually have one or two grey seeds in the interior.
What Does A Water Apple Taste Like?
Although bearing the common name rose apple and appearing similar to an elongated apple on the outside, these nutritious fruits do not resemble the rose or the apple in terms of fragrance, taste and texture. These luscious water apple fruits have an intrinsically crunchy texture and are quite sweet in taste when ripe. However, the unripe green water apple possesses a characteristically astringent flavour and hence is ideal for use in the preparation of pickles, curries and chutneys.
The nutrition profile of not only the unripe and ripe fruits, but the leaves too, is quite impressive. The water apple fruit is ideal for weight loss due to its low calorie content and negligible amounts of saturated fats. In addition, it also provides dietary fibers, to aid in digestion and has no cholesterol, for better heart function. Water apples are rich in Vitamin C for boosting immunity and Vitamin A for proper vision. They are also abundant in the B vitamins that can aid in regulating metabolism. Also Read: Vitamin C – Functions, Food Sources, Deficiencies And Toxicity
In addition, they possess vast amounts of crucial trace minerals like iron and calcium and antioxidants, which monitor enzyme function and prevent free radical damage in the body cells. The leaves also contain powerful plant compounds called flavonoids, which offer anti-inflammatory properties for those suffering from chronic conditions.
Water apples are widely grown and consumed worldwide today and are also processed in the form of fresh juices, jams, pickles and salads. The pleasant aroma, pulpy flavour and innumerable health benefits of this crunchy fruit can be consumed by people of all age groups and would serve as a value addition to the daily diet.
Nutritional Value Of Water Apples:
The nutrient content in a 100 gram serving of water apple fruit is highlighted below. The information is according to the United States Department Of Agriculture (USDA) Nutrient Database:
Amounts Per 100 g Serving:
Water 93.0 g 90%
Total Protein 0.6 g 1%
Total Carbohydrates 5.7 g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1.5 g 0.5%
Starch 0.0 g
Sugars 0.0 g
Total Fat 0.3 g 0%
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Monounsaturated fat 0.0 g
Polyunsaturated fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Vitamin C 156 mg 25%
Vitamin A 22 mg 5%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 10 mg 2%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 5 mg 1%
Calcium 29.0 mg 3%
Iron 0.1 mg 0.1 %
Magnesium 5.0 mg 1%
Phosphorus 8.0 mg 1%
Potassium 123 mg 20%
Sodium 0.0 mg 0%
Sulphur 13 mg 1.5%
Water Apple Health Benefits:
1. Fights Free Radical Damage:
Water apple is rich in Vitamin C and other phenolic compounds called flavonoids. These prevent the damage of cells due to free radicals, pollutants and toxic chemicals which lead to the health ailments such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Free radicals are developed in the body when the body gets exposed to the radiation, tobacco or smoke and during the process of breaking down of food. The antioxidant property of water apples effectively combats toxins in the body. Also Check Out: Top Most Antioxidant Rich Foods
2. Bolsters Immune Function:
Vitamin C enhances the white blood cells production and also assists in the functioning. As Vitamin C is an antioxidant, it eliminates the oxidative damage and enhances the smooth functioning. Vitamin C effectively boosts the immune system to counteract the colds.
3. Reduced Risk Of Stroke:
The negligible amounts of sodium and cholesterol in the water apple lowers the chances of stroke and health ailments such as inflammation, oxidative damage, cardiac health, atherosclerosis, blood pressure and endothelial health. The development of plaque in the body results in the stroke or heart attack which could be reduced with the Vitamin C.
4. Boosts Good HDL Cholesterol:
Water apple is the source of Niacin which regulates cholesterol synthesis in the system. Niacin enhances the good HDL cholesterol levels and reduces the amounts of harmful triglycerides and bad LDL cholesterol in blood. Also Read: Vitamin B3: Functions, Food Sources, Deficiencies And Toxicity
5. Improves Metabolism:
Consuming water apples in routine diet helps to speed up the assimilation of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in food, by acting as a catalyst to enzymes in biochemical processes. This in turn promotes proper appetite and metabolism and helps maintain optimal body weight.
6. Prevents Constipation:
Dietary fiber in water apple supports the digestive system in the material movement and adds bulk to the stool which is helpful for those having the irregular bowel function or constipation. It supports in healthy weight and reduces the chances of heart disease and diabetes.
7. Heals Muscle Cramps:
Water apple possess adequate amounts of potassium and water. It enhances the strength of muscles and reduces the muscle cramps often caused due to the low levels of potassium, sodium and dehydration.
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8. Hydrates The Body:
The abundant water content in water apples makes them a perfect way to quench thirst and cool the body during peak summer, when people are often dehydrated. The fruit can be consumed as such or squeezed into a juice, chilled and sipped, to ensure adequate water supply and for electrolyte replenishment in the body cells. Also Read: Avoid These Foods To Prevent Dehydration In Summer
9. Cures Liver Damage:
Liver damage leads to the various ailments which are caused due to the excessive consumption of alcohol, anemia, malnutrition, infection and hepatotoxic drugs. Watery Rose Apple contains hepatoprotective agents that help in effectively treating liver ailments.
Is Water Apple Good For Diabetes?
Water apples have powerful antihyperglycemic properties, which means they lower blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes. With a low glycemic load value of just 2, they help to gradually process sugars in food entering the body and hence monitor blood glucose levels from becoming alarmingly high.
Jambosine is a bioactive crystalline alkaloid present in water apples that suspends the conversion of starch into sugar thereby regulating the sugar level, especially in diabetic patients.
Hence, water apples can be consumed in moderate amounts by diabetics. However, consult with doctors and nutritionists, to avoid any risk of side effects. Also Check Out: 5 Fruits Low On Glycemic Index That Are Good For Diabetics-Infographic
The Amazing Benefits Of Water Apples For Pregnant Women:
Water apple contains essential minerals and vitamins such as Vitamin A and iron, that are crucial for pregnant women due to their increased nutrient needs and to deal with symptoms of discomfort. Also, the leaves possess analgesic activity and help to relieve pain and soreness in a woman post childbirth.
Furthermore, during pregnancy, there are inevitable health conditions such as fainting and vomiting which can cause dehydration during pregnancy; water apples help to keep them hydrated.
Water Apple Juice For Pregnancy:
Chambakka - 1 kg
Sugar - ½ cup
Lemon Juice - 1 to 2 tbsp
Water - 5 to 6 cups
Salt - ¼ tsp
Wash and clean chambakka of any seeds.
Chop them into pieces.
In a mixer jar, add chopped chambakka and about 2 to 3 glasses of water and grind well.
Strain the chambakka puree through a strainer to get clear juice underneath.
To the clear chambakka juice, add sugar, salt, lime juice, and water as needed and run again in the mixie so that everything blends well. Adjust sugar, water, and salt and also lime juice as per personal taste.
Store in refrigerator until use and serve chilled. Yummy and cool chambakka juice is ready.
The amount of blood transported within the system in pregnant women is increased as they have to meet the nutritional requirements of the developing baby in the womb as well. This chambakka juice helps to control low blood pressure or hypotension and also hydrates the body, assisting in managing frequent episodes of nausea and dizziness.
Watery Rose Apple Salad For New Moms:
In Malaysia and Indonesia as well as in ancient Indian folk tradition, it is customary to serve a freshly prepared watery rose apple salad to women post childbirth.
1 big watery rose apple
1 small apple
1 medium sized pomegranate
1/2 tbsp honey
Mint leaves, for garnish
Wash all fruits in water.
Slice the fruits into small pieces.
Add a dash of honey and mix well.
Garnish with fresh mint leaves.
Watery rose apples are abundant in vitamin A, which confer useful antioxidant traits in women post childbirth. It also hydrates the body and is hence valuable in relieving symptoms of nausea and dizziness. Honey possesses antibacterial traits which enhance skin health while mint leaves provide potassium for maintaining electrolyte balance in the body and flexible muscle function.
Water Apple Uses For Skin:
1. Enhances Skin Texture:
An adequate amount of Vitamin A and C could be obtained from the water apple which helps to prevent the damage from the oxidative stress caused due to poor diet, stress and pollution. It also reduces the dryness of the skin and reduces the wrinkles.
2. Clears Suntans and Dark Spots:
The phenolic content in leaves of water apples comprises useful skin-whitening agents. Syzygium aqueum leaf extracts are used extensively skin care products, as the phenolic antioxidant possesses UVB-blocking ability.
Water Apple and Oatmeal Face Pack:
1 water apple
½ cup oatmeal
½ cup water
Mix the oatmeal with water apple juice extract and blend it into a homogenous paste.
Apply on your face evenly, leave it on for 10 minutes.
Wash off with lukewarm water.
How It Works:
The active flavonoid components in water apple possess wonderful skin brightening properties that will rejuvenate skin cells, slow down ageing and leave your face looking flawless and radiant. In addition, the antioxidants in oatmeal help to eliminate dead skin cells, thereby brightening the face. Also Read: 5 Amazing Ways Oatmeal Based Products Revamp Skin Health
3. Prevents Acne
Acne vulgaris is a skin condition which leads to the inflammation caused due to the skin infection. The leaves of water apple possess the anti-acne properties such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties, to effectively combat the microbes causing acne and thus reduce inflammation and acne scars.
4.Treats Skin Infections:
Extracts prepared from the bark of the Water Apple are very effective against Staphylococcus aureus, a common bacterial microbial agent that causes many skin disorders such as blisters and pustules, as well as hypersensitivity and allergies.
Water Apple Applications In Ayurveda:
In Ayurveda - the time-tested Indian system of medicine, the ancient documents feature a host of incredible therapeutic properties and uses of water apple fruit, leaves and bark.
1. Treats Epilepsy And Seizures:
The bioactive constituents in water apples known as terpenoids help in improving nerve function. Hence, it is effective as remedy for those suffering from neuronal complications like seizures.
2. Heals Oral Thrush:
The bark extract is crushed and applied on microbial infections in the mouth known as oral thrush, to heal the sores and swelling.
3. Remedies Kidney Stones:
The leaf extracts of water apple possess strong anti-inflammatory properties, which help to get rid of kidney stones within the system and ensure smooth elimination of toxins and bladder function.
Water Apple Recipes:
Water Apple Jam:
This fresh, nutritious and delectable preserve is sure to entice taste buds and perfectly complements toast, dosas and rotis.
2 medium water apples, ripened
¼ cup jaggery
3 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tsp cardamom powder
Rinse the water apples thoroughly in warm water and dice them into small pieces.
Heat some water in a deep dish vessel on medium flame, then add the cut water apples along with jaggery, cinnamon and cardamom.
Cook this mix to obtain a syrup-like consistency, until the fruit completely melts, so that the sweet flavours can get infused in its juice.
Switch off the stove and allow the thick paste to cool down completely.
Store this water apple jam in an airtight container for up to one week.
Water apples being a fabulous source of dietary fibers, aid in digestion and regulating appetite. Jaggery supplies vast amounts of the key trace mineral iron, which promotes red blood cell synthesis. Cinnamon not only enhances the flavour and aroma of the preserve, but also offers calcium for strong bones. Cardamom is rich in vitamin C, thus assisting in enhancing immunity. Also Read: Surprising Health Benefits Of Cardamom
Green Water Apple Pickle:
This piquant and tangy recipe is easy to prepare and serves as a perfect side to sandwiches, parathas and rice.
2 small green water apples (unripened)
1 tsp chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp groundnut oil
2 tsp mustard seeds
10 – 12 curry leaves, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
Cut the green water apples into small pieces and discard seeds.
In a pan, heat the oil and add mustard seeds.
Once they start to sputter, add the curry leaves and sauté for a few minutes.
Now, add the cut green water apple slices to this, along with chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt and cook thoroughly for 10 minutes on medium flame.
When stored in a clean, dry airtight jar, this green water apple pickle stays fresh for up to ten days.
Green water apples possess amazing anti-inflammatory properties that enhance liver function as well as antioxidants which eliminate harmful free radicals from the body. Groundnut oil is free of cholesterol, thereby promoting heart health, while mustard seeds possess potent polyphenols which help in prevention of cancer.
Water Apple Side Effects:
- While water apples are commercially sold as fully developed fruits, stems, leaves and roots contain trace amounts of hydrocyanic acid and are hence poisonous.
- Therefore, caution should be exercised before consuming water apples sourced from farms and other organic produce.
- Keep in mind to eat only measured portions of water apples, as eating too much poses the risk of toxicity in the body due to accumulation of trace mineral metallic compounds present in the fruit, within the body.
Water apples, otherwise known as rose apples or watery rose apples are in fact, a goldmine of essential macronutrients, trace minerals and potent antioxidants. They impart beneficial traits to enhance physical and mental health, apart from being invaluable in remedying several ailments such as diabetes, heart disease and neurodegenerative disorders. In addition, they confer many significant advantages to women in crucial phases of pregnancy and post childbirth. Hence, it is of foremost necessity, to understand the salient nutrition values and marvellous wellness incentives that water apples offer, for overall health.