The super fruit called gac fruit is originally from Vietnam and spread its presence all over Southeast Asia including South China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and North-eastern Australia. Gac fruit is also known as a sweet gourd, baby jackfruit, Chinese bitter cucumber, cochinchin gourd, spiny bitter cucumber, and spiny bitter gourd.
The fruit is well known for its vitamins and other mineral contents. It has a short harvesting time, December and January. The fruit is used by Vietnamese to mix and prepare rice for their special occasions. It has wide use in Chinese medicine.
Peculiarities of gac fruit
Gac fruit grows on the vines in tropical areas. When it is young the fruit is green and when it turns mature and ripe the colour changes to orange-red or dark red, according to the soil traits. A ripened fruit will be somewhat oval-shaped and has a length up to 13cm and a diameter up to 10cm. A single fruit weighs between 500 grams and 2.5 kilograms.
The outer shell be having spikes and the inner part is full of pulp as well as seeds. The flesh of the fruit tastes mild like avocado. Vietnamese use gac’s seed to make oil.
Characteristics of the plant
The plant is a perennial climbing plant that thrives in tropical or sub-tropical climates. The plant survives for at least 10 years. Though it requires a great deal of sunlight it can withstand a small amount of shade. Gac plant has sturdy roots and requires well-drained soil. As for fertilisers, it needs compost or cow manure or natural fertilisers. June-September is the normal flowering time of the plant.
Minerals and nutrition
Minerals and other contents in the fruit are higher than many other fruits in the market. The fruit is rich in beta-carotene, omega 3 fatty acid, alpha-tocopherol, Vitamins such as A, E and C, proteins, fibres, polyunsaturated fats and minerals such as zinc and selenium.
Health benefits of the fruit
- Brings down cholesterol level: Different studies point out, having a gac in every week helps to reduce bad cholesterol level.
- Helps improving eyesight: Beta carotene, minerals and other elements help to improve eye-sight significantly.
- Lowers anaemia: Rich in iron, folic acid and vitamin C makes it a desirable fruit for those who are suffering from anaemia.
- Strengthens cardiovascular system: Antioxidants and the fibrous nature of fruit helps to strengthen the cardiovascular system of the body.
How to eat gac?
Cut the fruit into two using a knife and remove the spikes from the outside of the cover. Whatever inside, except the seeds, are edible. The most amount of nutrition and minerals can be seen in the flesh around the seeds. Scrape the flesh and can be added to juice, smoothies, rice and soup. The inner part of gac tastes like avocado and can be turned into juice, ice creams or smoothies. Spikes and outer rind should be avoided from eating or the toxic nature of these will make a person uneasy and can be hospitalised due to this.