Quenepas: Health benefits and nutritional value

Quenepas has a very good nutritional value and it has innumerable health benefits. Health benefits of quenepas include lowering of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, aiding in weight loss, strengthening bones, treating insomnia, boosting immunity, promoting digestion and many more health benefits.

What is Quenepas?

Do you know what is quenepas? Have you ever heard about this fruit? The scientific name of Quenepas is Melicoccus bijugatus.

Quenepas is an edible fruit producing tree and it belongs to the family called Sapindaceae, which is commonly known as soapberry family. They belong to the same family to which litchee, longan, and rambutan fruit trees belong

It is native to the regions like South America, central America, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, St. Kitts, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Dominican republic, and some regions of the Caribbean islands.

The fruits of quenepas have green colored leathery skin. The pulp of the quenepas fruit is very fleshy and has the color of salmon. The quenepas fruits are sold during the summer months and people wait eagerly to consume the delicious quenepas fruits.

quenepas

Quenepas Nutrition facts:

Quenepas contain so many vitamins and minerals that make us healthy in all the possible ways. The fruits of Quenepas are highly nutritious and contain many vitamins and minerals.

Even the seeds of Quenepas fruit have many essential flavonoids like epicatechin, catechin, epigallocatechin, procyanidin, naringenin, phloretin, phloridzin, quercetin, myricetin and resveratrol. The fruit pulp of Quenepas has many beneficial compounds like phenolic acids (coumaric acid, ferulic acid), resveratrol derivatives.

The fruits are rich in sugars like sucrose, glucose, and fructose which makes Quenepas fruits a powerhouse of energy. Quenepas seeds and fruit pulp also contain Quercetin derivatives, tannins, catechins, etc.

Quenepas nutritional value (per 100 g of Quenepas fruit):
  • Calories: 58 Kcal
  • Water: 68 g
  • Carbohydrates: 13.5 g
  • Fat: 0.08 to 0.2 g
  • Fiber: 0.07 to 2.6 g
Protein: 0.5 g
  • Tryptophan: 14 mg
  • Lysine: 17 mg
Vitamins:
  • Thiamine or vitamin B1: 0.03 to 0.21 mg
  • Riboflavin or vitamin B2: 0.01 to 0.2 mg
  • Niacin or vitamin B3: 0.15 to 0.9 mg
  • Ascorbic acid or vitamin C: 0.8 to 10 mg
Minerals:
  • Iron: 0.47 to 1.19 mg
  • Calcium: 3.5 to 15 mg
  • Phosphorus: 9.8 mg

Health benefits of Quenepas:

Relieves diarrhea:

Quenepas seeds are used as a home remedy for treating diarrhea in some countries like Venezuela. The remedy is really very effective. Always make sure you roast the quenepas seeds before using to avoid the toxic side effects of the seeds.

Just roast few seeds of quenepas and then grind them to a fine powder. Then boil a glass of water and add a spoon of quenepas seeds powder to it. Just let it boil for 1 to 2 minutes. Then let the quenepas tea cool down a little.

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Then strain the tea, add a spoon of honey to the tea and drink it warm. You can drink this quenepas tea 2 to 3 times a day when having diarrhea. But, never use unroasted quenepas seeds as they have side effects and they are not easily digestible.

The ability of the Quenepas seeds to treat diarrhea is mainly due to the presence of epicatechin and procyanidin B2 in them. These substances belong to the group of phytochemicals. They block the transport of certain ions like chloride in the intestines.

This helps in preventing the loss of water and nutrients from the gut in the form of diarrhea. Also, the catechins in the seeds of Quenepas kill the microbes responsible for causing diarrhea due to their antimicrobial activity.

They also act like an astringent and constrict the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract. This also further assists in controlling diarrhea and water loss from the body. Quenepas seeds prevent the dehydration caused by diarrhea.

Gets rid of intestinal parasites:

The milk extracted from the seeds of quenepas is called Horchata. This quenepas seed milk is widely used in some countries like Nicaragua. This Horchata is a really good remedy to get rid of intestinal parasites.

The anti-parasitic activity of the Quenepas seeds is mainly due to a compound called Naringenin present in them. It can kill intestinal parasites like Cryptosporidium parvum and Encephalitozoon intestinalis.

Antioxidant activity:

We all know that free radicals are really harmful to the body. But, do you know that free radicals are produced within our body as byproducts of the metabolism? They have detrimental effects on all the organs of the body.

The harmful effects of free radicals can range from aging of skin to the development of lethal cancers. Antioxidants are the substances that are present in various foods that counter the activity of free radicals and protect us from diseases.

The seeds of Quenepas have more powerful antioxidant activity than the fruit. They have many flavonoids like catechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, naringenin which are powerful antioxidants. Even the Quenepas fruit has an antioxidant activity to some extent. It prevents the development of diseases caused by free radicals.

Alleviates constipation:

The seeds of Quenepas are used to treat diarrhea, while the fruit or the fruit pulp of the quenepas fruit relieves us from constipation. Quenepas fruit is rich in dietary fiber. It acts as a bulking agent of the stool.

As the fiber from quenepas adds bulk to the stool, stool can pass easily through the gut. Also, the fiber absorbs water from the body and makes the stool soft, which also assists in the easy passage of the stool.

It also helps us get rid of abdominal bloating, cramps and pain caused due to constipation. We can prevent the complications of constipation like hemorrhoids or piles an anal fissure by consuming Quenepas regularly.

The ferulic acid derivatives in the Quenepas fruit also have a laxative effect. They reduce the colon transit time or the time in which the fecal matter passes out through the intestines or colon. Also, this fruit when used as a laxative has very less irritation and side effects on the digestive system.

Lowers high blood pressure:

Many people across the world suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension. Hypertension leads to many health ailments or complications like hemorrhagic stroke, hypertensive retinopathy in which the retina of the eye is damaged, renal failure or kidney failure, heart attack, atherosclerosis, and many more problems.

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We always need to keep our blood pressure in check. We can control high blood pressure to some extent by consuming Quenepas. People native to Caribbean islands and many other regions use Quenepas fruit to control Hypertension.

Caffeic acid present in the Quenepas fruit prevents the division or proliferation of the smooth muscles cells within the blood vessels or arteries. This helps in lowering of blood pressure by preventing the contraction of blood vessels.

The Quenepas fruit also has coumaric acid which has antiplatelet activity and antioxidant effects. This is also another ingredient of this amazing fruit which controls Hypertension.

Lower cholesterol:

Cholesterol when present in high levels in the body can clog the blood vessels, cause atherosclerosis and lead to many more ailments like heart attack and stroke.

Quenepas fruit has certain substances like saponins which have cholesterol-lowering properties. They reduce the blood levels of cholesterol and protect our heart, brain, and many other organs from the adverse effects caused by hypercholesterolemia.

Treats respiratory problems:

Our respiratory system is very delicate and we might suffer from many ailments ranging from a simple cough to life-threatening Asthma attacks. But, there are many home remedies and superfoods that help us improve immunity and fight respiratory problems.

Quenepas fruit is being used to alleviate the symptoms of Asthma in the regions where it grows extensively. It also helps us get rid of a cough and cold when eaten regularly.

Certain compounds in Quenepas fruit like resveratrol and caffeic acid inhibit the inflammation processes or the swelling of the respiratory passages that is seen in conditions like Asthma. The anti-inflammatory activity of these compounds is mainly responsible for relief from Asthma symptoms.

Has antimicrobial activity:

Many compounds present in Quenepas fruit have antimicrobial properties. They kill various bacteria like E.coli which are responsible for diarrhea and many other ailments. They can also kill various intestinal parasites.

The main antimicrobial substances present in Quenepas fruit are hydroxycinnamic acid, p-coumaroyl hexose,etc. They protect us from many different infections by combating the microbes. Quenepas fruit pulp also has fungicidal activity against certain fungi like yeast.

Strengthens bones:

Development of strong bones requires minerals like calcium and phosphorus in appropriate amounts required by the body. Calcium and phosphorus make the bones and teeth healthy and strong.

They prevent the demineralization of the bones and reduced bone mineral density or BMD in old age and in postmenopausal women. Quenepas fruit has a high content of calcium and phosphorus that makes the bones strong and prevents the development of osteoporosis.

Boost immunity:

Quenepas fruit contains many vitamins and minerals that make our immune system very strong and capable of fighting the infections. This fruit has high levels of Vitamin C or Ascorbic acid which strengthens the immune system.

Quenepas helps our mind relax, get de-stressed and prevent the adverse effects of stress on the immune system. This fruit also has many antioxidants which have a protective effect on the immune system.

Treats insomnia:

Insomnia is the lack of adequate sleep at night. This can be caused by many different reasons like anxiety, stress, insufficient nutritional support, etc. Quenepas fruit is rich in proteins and contains many different types of amino acids like tryptophan and lysine.

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Tryptophan is necessary for the formation of serotonin, which is a type of neurotransmitter. A neurotransmitter is a substance that transmits impulses or signals between the nerves. Serotonin relaxes the mind, helps us get rid of anxiety and induces sleep. Quenepas is a good sleep inducing food which can control insomnia very efficiently.

Treats anemia:

Quenepas fruit is rich in iron which promotes the formation of hemoglobin which is an integral part of red blood cells. Deficiency of hemoglobin is called anemia. So, Quenepas treats anemia by the formation of hemoglobin.

Deficiency of hemoglobin or anemia can cause many symptoms like fatigue or tiredness, malaise, shortness of breath, etc. Extremely low levels of hemoglobin are also associated with the development of heart failure.

Quenepas is rich in iron which helps in hemoglobin formation and treats anemia. It is also rich in vitamin C which promotes the absorption of iron from the gut and helps indirectly in the formation of hemoglobin.

Benefits of Quenepas for skin:

Quenepas has many antioxidant substances that fight the free radicals. It prevents the premature aging of the skin by combating free radicals. It reduces the signs of aging like age spots, fine lines, and wrinkles.

The vitamins and minerals in Quenepas also nourish the skin and make the skin glowing and youthful. Consume Quenepas regularly if you want to appear beautiful.

Precautions:
  • Always roast the seeds of quenepas before using them to avoid the toxic side effects and to make them more easily digestible.
  • Don’t consume quenepas fruit in large amounts at the same time. Eating more quenepas fruits at once can cause a sore throat or throat irritation due to certain compounds like coumaric acid which have astringent properties.
  • Quenepas fruit can sometimes cause toxic effects in adolescents and children. So, it’s better to avoid eating this fruit by kids or children.
  • The substances in Quenepas fruit can bind to iron or act as iron chelators and cause iron deficiency in kids.
  • Iron deficiency can cause anemia and impair the growth and development in kids as iron is absolutely required for growing kids.

Other names of Quenepas:

Quenepas is known with many other names in various local regions. Let us look at some of the local names of quenepas.

  • Cuba, Costa Rica, Venezuela, : Mamoncillo, Mamon
  • Panama, ColombiaTrinidad and tobago:¬†Chenette
  • Trinidad and tobago:¬†Chenette
  • Caribbean: Quenette
  • United states virgin islands, Jamaica: Gnep, ginep
  • Mexico, Puerto Rico: Guaya, quenepa
  • St. Kitts: Skinnip
  • Grenada: Skinup
  • Dominica: Kenip
  • Guyana, Belize, Bahamas, Haiti: Canepa, genip, guinep,
    ginepa, ginnip, kinnip.
  • Guatemala: Talpa jocote
  • United states (USA): Spanish lime
  • Dominican republic: Limoncillo
Scientific classification:

Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales
Family: Sapindaceae
Genus: Melioccus
Species: M. bijugatus

Have you ever tried eating Quenepas fruit? Do you find it delicious? Have you ever used Quenepas seeds as a home remedy for any ailment? Do share your experience with us.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melicoccus_bijugatus
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22155593
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19444610

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