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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Queen of Fruits.. Purple Mangosteen..



I love Purple Mangosteen.. The mangosteen is commonly known as "The Queen of fruits" in parts of southeast Asia, notably Singapore and Malaysia. It is believed to have "cooling" properties that counteract the "heatiness" of durians, the so-called "King of fruits". The fact that the fruiting seasons of these two fruits coincide makes these titles particularly apt.

Legend, geographic origins and culinary applications.

There is a legend about Queen Victoria offering a reward to anyone who could deliver to her the fabled fruit. In his publication, "Hortus Veitchii", James Herbert Veitch says that he visited Java in 1892, "to eat the Mangosteen. It is necessary to eat the Mangosteen grown within three or four degrees of latitude of the equator to realize at all the attractive and curious properties of this fruit."

An ultra-tropical tree, the mangosteen must be grown in consistently warm conditions, as exposure to temperatures below 40°F (4°C) will generally kill a mature plant.

Due to ongoing restrictions on imports, mangosteen is not readily available in certain countries. Although available in Australia, for example, they are still rare in the produce sections of grocery stores in North America and Europe. Following export from its natural growing regions in Southeast Asia, the fresh fruit may be available seasonally in some local markets like those of Chinatowns. Mangosteen and its related products, such as juices and nutritional supplements, are legally imported into the United States, which had an import ban until 2007.

Mangosteens are readily available canned and frozen in Western countries. Without fumigation or irradiation as fresh fruit, mangosteens have historically been illegal for importation in commercial volumes into the United States due to fears that they harbor the Asian fruit fly, which would endanger U.S. crops. This situation, however, officially changed on July 23, 2007 when irradiated imports from Thailand were allowed upon USDA approval of irradiation, packing and shipping techniques. Freeze-dried and dehydrated mangosteen arils can also be found.

From 2006 to present, private small volume orders from fruits grown on Puerto Rico are being filled for American gourmet restaurants who serve the aril pieces as a delicacy dessert. Beginning in 2007 for the first time, fresh mangosteens are also being sold for as high as $45 per pound from specialty produce stores in New York City.

Before ripening, the mangosteen shell is fibrous and firm, but becomes soft and easy to pry open when the fruit ripens. To open a mangosteen, the shell is usually scored first with a knife; one holds the fruit in both hands, prying gently along the score with the thumbs until the rind cracks. It is then easy to pull the halves apart along the crack and remove the fruit. Rarely in ripe fruits, the purple exocarp juice may stain skin or fabric.


Nutrient content and antioxidant strength


Mangosteen is typically advertised and marketed as part of an emerging category of novel functional foods sometimes called "superfruits" presumed to have a combination of 1) appealing subjective characteristics, such as taste, fragrance and visual qualities, 2) nutrient richness, 3) antioxidant strength and 4) potential impact for lowering risk against human diseases.

The aril is the flavorful part of the fruit but, when analyzed specifically for its nutrient content, the mangosteen aril only meets the first criterion above, as its overall nutrient profile is absent of important content.

Some mangosteen juice products contain whole fruit purée or polyphenols extracted from the inedible exocarp (rind) as a formulation strategy to add phytochemical value. The resulting juice has purple color and astringency derived from exocarp pigments, including xanthones under study for potential anti-disease effects. However, as xanthone research is at an early stage of basic laboratory research and only preliminary evidence has been found for anti-disease activity, no conclusions about possible health benefits for humans are warranted presently.

Furthermore, a possible adverse effect may occur from chronic consumption of mangosteen juice containing xanthones. A 2008 medical case report described a patient with severe acidosis possibly attributable to a year of daily use (to lose weight, dose not described) of mangosteen juice infused with xanthones. The authors proposed that chronic exposure to alpha-mangostin, a xanthone, could be toxic to mitochondrial function, leading to impairment of cellular respiration and production of lactic acidosis.

Information about legend and nutrient from wikipedia.com

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