Have you ever heard of the Osu fruit? Maybe not, but this fruit is native to parts of West Africa and is packed with a nutritional punch. You’re about to discover why the Osu fruit, also known as Abere, deserves a spot on your radar.
For centuries, people have used Osu fruit in traditional recipes and drinks. Osu fruit contains powerful compounds that can boost your health and natural energy levels. Read on to uncover the health benefits and uses of Osu fruit.
What Is Osu Fruit?
Osu fruit is oval-shaped, about the size of a pear or mango. The Osu fruit is native to tropical West Africa. For centuries, the Osu tree and its fruit have been prized for their nutritional and medicinal benefits. Osu fruit grows on a medium-sized tree native to the humid rainforests of West Africa.
The Osu fruit, also known as Osu in Edo, is a shrub plant that produces the fruit. It is botanically known as Hunteria umbellata, Erin, Abere in Yoruba, Demouain, Aarin, Polyadoa umbellata, Picralima nitida, and Nkpokiri in Igbo.
Hunteria umbellata is a bitter-tasting medicinal fruit and seed that is frequently used to treat a range of ailments by employing both the outside flesh and the soft seed inside. It can be used on its own or in combination with other herbs to increase its potency.
The features of Osu Fruit
The Osu fruit has some interesting features that make it unique:
- The fruit starts out green, but as it matures/ripens, it turns light green, then yellow. Similarly, when the fruit ripens, the pulp gets more squashy, allowing the seeds to readily pop out.
- It grows as either a shrub or small tree up to 22 meters (72 ft) tall, with a trunk diameter of up to 40 centimeters (16 in).
- Inside, there are a lot of oval seeds.
- It has a bitter taste.
- Its flowers feature a white, creamy, or pale yellow corolla.
- The fruit can weigh up to 1 kilogram.
- It has many antibacterial benefits.
- The wood is resistant to termites and fungus, so it is often used in construction.
Is Osu Fruit Poisonous?
The tree is poisonous everywhere. Infact, nasty groups exploit it for illegal objectives in several nations. This is why people who soak the entire fruit in water should stop because they consume some of the milky sap, which is toxic and found in the fruit.
Rather, wash the seeds thoroughly in water before soaking them for use. The toxicity profile of osu fruit, when consumed orally, is modest. However, if used over an extended period of time and in the wrong doses, it is possible to get poisoned.
As with any wild fruit, Osu fruit should be eaten in moderation. Consuming large amounts could lead to digestive issues in some individuals. But when eaten properly and in normal amounts, Osu fruit is perfectly safe and non-toxic.
Nutritional Profile of Osu Fruit
The osu fruit is chock-full of nutrients. Here are some of the major vitamins and minerals found in this tropical superfood:
A single osu fruit contains over 100% of your daily vitamin C needs. Vitamin C is essential for immune function and healthy skin.
Important for bone health and metabolism. One osu fruit has over 30% of your manganese requirement.
Critical for heart health, blood pressure regulation, and electrolyte balance. Osu fruit is high in potassium, with over 10% of your daily needs in one fruit.
With over 50% of your daily fiber in one fruit, Osu helps keep you full, aids digestion, and promotes gut health.
Osu fruit contains antioxidants like carotenoids that help fight free radicals and may help reduce the risk of some diseases.
Others include Sodium, Iron, magnesium, and calcium.
Parts of the Osu fruit tree that are utilized in medical treatments
The Osu fruit tree has many parts that are used in traditional medicine. Here are four of the main ones:
The leaves are crushed and applied as a poultice to relieve skin inflammations and rashes. Chewing the leaves can also help relieve toothaches.
The bark is boiled, and the decoction is drunk to relieve stomach upsets, dysentery, and other gastrointestinal issues. It is also used as a remedy for malaria and yellow fever.
The roots are boiled and the decoction drunk to relieve infertility in women, as well as to regulate menstruation. The roots are also used to treat gonorrhea, syphilis, and other venereal diseases.
The ripe fruits are edible and eaten raw or made into juice. The unripe green fruits are boiled and eaten as a vegetable. Both ripe and unripe fruits are used to treat diarrhea, dysentery, and intestinal worms. The seeds are also crushed and applied as a poultice to skin diseases.
Uses of Osu Fruit and Tree
The Osu fruit, also known as the African Star Apple, has many uses. Here are a few main uses of the Osu fruit and tree:
- The pulp of the Osu fruit is eaten raw or made into juices, jams, and alcoholic beverages.
- A decoction made from the bark or leaves is used as an anthelmintic to expel parasitic worms.
- The bark, leaves, and roots of osu trees have been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat ailments like dysentery, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, and skin conditions.
- The sap is also applied topically to relieve skin irritation and rashes.
- The milky sap/latex present all over the plant is utilized as an arrow poison. It is typically applied to arrowheads and darts used in hunting and warfare.
- The wood is hard and durable, used for items like mortars, pestles, and timber.
- The bark is used for dyeing clothes black and for tanning leather.
- The sap (latex) is used as a chewing gum.
- The seeds are ground into powder and used as a thickener for soups or eaten with cereal grains like corn.
- The flowers are used to treat eye infections, and the unripe fruit is used to treat diarrhea in traditional medicine.
- Osu fruit contains compounds with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.
In summary, nearly every part of the Osu tree has important uses, whether for food, medicine, construction, or the environment. This versatile and ecologically beneficial tree has been valued in West Africa for generations.
How to Eat Osu Fruit
To enjoy the delicious Osu fruit, follow these simple steps:
- Select fully ripe Osu fruits. The fruit should feel slightly soft when squeezed gently.
- Note that If your main purpose of getting the fruit is to use the seeds, ensure it is ripe unless you plan to soak the whole fruit in water.
- Rinse the fruit under running water to remove any dirt or debris on the skin. Pat dry with a towel.
- Slice the Osu fruit in half horizontally. Then, use a spoon to scoop out the pulp and seeds.
- Once you remove the seeds inside, wash them thoroughly.
- Soak in a container for at least 24 hours for proper extraction of the active ingredients.
- Take 10 mls in the morning and at night.
Enjoy this exotic tropical treat and all the nutritional benefits of the Osu fruit!
How to Make Osu Fruit Seed Powder
To make osu seed powder, follow these steps:
- Remove the seeds of the Osu fruit and Wash thoroughly. Or you can soak the osu seeds in water for 2-3 days until swollen. This helps remove the seed coat and activates the seeds, making the nutrients more bioavailable.
- Drain and rinse the seeds, then spread them on a baking sheet to air dry completely for about 2-3 days.
- Grind the dried seeds into a fine powder using a spice grinder, blender, or food processor. Ensure it is adequately dried to enable easy blending and to avoid growing moths.
- Sieve the powder through a fine mesh strainer to achieve an even, fine consistency.
- Store the osu seed powder in an airtight container away from heat and light.
Osu seed powder is a nutritious addition to any diet, as it’s high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
How to Use Osu/Abere Seed Powder
To use the powder from Osu seeds, follow these simple steps:
- Mix 1-2 tablespoons of the powder with warm water, juice, or yogurt to make a paste.
- Drink the mixture. Start with a small amount, about 1/2 teaspoon, to allow your body to get accustomed to it. You can gradually increase the dosage over time as needed.
- Take the powder or paste up to 2-3 times per day. Osu seed powder can be used as a nutritional supplement and natural remedy for various conditions. However, you should always talk to your doctor before using it medicinally, especially if you are on any medications.
Store any leftover powder in an airtight container.
The seed powder is rich in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. When used properly and in moderation, Osu seed powder may help support digestive health, provide an energy boost, and promote general wellness. However, as with any supplement, more is not always better, and it may cause side effects in some people, like diarrhea, nausea, or dizziness. So start slowly and listen to your body.
Where to Find and Buy Osu Fruit
Osu fruit can be found in local markets and traditional stores across West Africa, especially in Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Cameroon. Some online stores also sell Osu fruit.
The best place to find fresh Osu fruit is in local outdoor markets and traditional stores in Nigeria. Choose fruits that are unblemished, without brown spots. At some stores, you may find Osu fruit pre-cut in half to make it easy to inspect the flesh inside.
Health Benefits of Osu Fruit
The Osu fruit, also known as abere, is packed with nutrients and health benefits. Here are nine of the main benefits of eating Osu fruit:
Osu fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant and helps support the immune system.
Osu fruit contains vitamin A, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which help maintain healthy eyes and vision.
Osu fruit is high in fiber, which aids digestion and helps keep you feeling full.
The fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants in Osu fruit are good for heart health and may help lower blood pressure.
Osu fruit contains calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin K, which are important for building and maintaining bone strength and health.
Osu fruit has anti-inflammatory effects and may help reduce the risk of disease caused by chronic inflammation.
The vitamin C in Osu fruit helps support collagen production and skin health. It may help reduce skin damage from the sun and pollution.
Osu fruit is high in vitamin C, which helps with the absorption of iron from foods. This can help prevent iron deficiency anemia.
The antioxidants and other beneficial plant compounds in Osu fruit may help lower the risk of some diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The pulp, seeds, and juice of Osu fruit contain compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that can help reduce swelling and relieve pain when used topically or ingested. Osu fruit has been used traditionally in Nigeria to treat skin diseases, wounds, and rheumatism.
Potential side effects of Osu Fruit
Here are some of the most common side effects of osu fruit:
Consuming too much osu fruit can lead to loose stools or diarrhea due to its high fiber content and natural laxative effect.
The fiber in Osu fruit may cause gas, cramping, or bloating in some people, especially when consumed in large amounts. Start with a small amount and gradually increase your intake to allow your body to adjust.
Osu fruit is high in fiber but low in sugar, so eating a lot of it could potentially lead to low blood sugar in some individuals, especially if taken in conjunction with diabetes medications. Monitor your blood sugar closely and talk to your doctor about any medication adjustments that may be needed.
Though rare, some people may experience an allergic reaction to Osu fruit. Look out for symptoms like itching, hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing. Seek medical help immediately if a reaction occurs.
The fiber in Osu fruit could potentially interact with some medications like diabetes drugs, blood thinners, or thyroid hormone medications. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any possible drug interactions with Osu fruit and whether you need to make any changes to your medication regimen or diet.
So that’s the scoop on osu fruit. This little-known tropical fruit is packed with nutritional benefits and versatile uses. Next time you see Osu at your local market or in a traditional grocery store, give it a try.