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Custard Apple (Sharifa) During Pregnancy: Health Benefits And Recipes

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Nine months is ample time to taste almost all the seasonal fruits. When you are pregnant you can eat mangoes in summer, berries and plums in rains, and apples, pears, grapes and more in winter. Custard apple is one such seasonal fruit, which you wouldn’t want to miss. Yes, the seeds are a little annoying, but it is worth the pain as the fruit is nutritious for both the mother and her unborn baby.

Originating in South America with the name cherimoya, it is also known as sitaphal, sharifa and sugar apple.

MomJunction tells you about eating custard apples during pregnancy, and the technique you can use to eat the fruit. Also, do not miss reading some delicious recipes at the end.

Why It Is Safe To Eat Custard Apple During Pregnancy

Custard apple is considered safe during pregnancy due to its diverse nutritional profile and nearly negligible side-effects on moderate consumption.

The nutrient-rich fruit has good amounts of fiber, magnesium, iron, vitamin-B6 and vitamin-C (1). Also, it has natural sugars that could be helpful for underweight pregnant women to gain weight. Regular consumption of custard apple is believed to lower the risk of abortion.

This fruit is generally palatable even when you develop a distaste for other foods, a common tendency during pregnancy. However, you should not overeat the fruit, just like any other food.

10 Benefits Of Custard Apple During Pregnancy

The fruit is sweet, tasty, and is safe to eat during pregnancy. But this does not end here. There are some more benefits of the fruit that you could have, provided you eat it in moderation.

1. Vitamins

A custard apple contains vitamins A, B6, and C (2), which are essential for fetal development. Vitamin A aids in good vision, skin and hair, while vitamin C could help fight off the free radicals in the body. Vitamin B6 may help alleviate nausea (3).

2. Calories

100g of custard apple provides approximately 101Kcal (4). These calories help you add to your daily caloric requirement.

3. Copper

The daily requirement of copper during pregnancy is 100mg (5), and custard apple contains this mineral in fair amounts.

4. Fiber

The high fiber content in custard apple can help ease the bowel movements and lower the chances of constipation and other digestion-related problems. However, you should not over consume the fruit to get these benefits.

5. Antioxidant

Custard apples have potent antioxidants that could possibly help fight free radical damage (6).

6. Magnesium

Magnesium protects you from cardiac problems and aids in muscle relaxation. 100g of custard apple contains 18mg of magnesium, against the RDA of 450mg for a pregnant woman (7).

7. Expectorant

Custard apple is believed to have some medicinal properties due to the presence of phytochemicals such as terpenes, phenolic and flavonoid compounds (8). It is also believed that the fruit has coolant, stimulant, and expectorant properties, which may help address diarrhea and dysentery.

In addition to these nutrients, custard apples also contain other nutrients. The following table shows the nutritional values per 100g of custard apple:

NameAmountRDA (per day)
Water71.5g
Energy101KCal
Fiber,total dietary2.4g
Calcium, Ca30mg1000mg
Iron, Fe0.71mg27mg
Magnesium, Mg18mg360mg
Phosphorus, P21mg700mg
Potassium, K382mg2900mg(AI)
Vitamin C,

total ascorbic acid

19.2mg85mg
Vitamin A, IU332567IU
Vitamin B-60.221mg1.9mg

Source: Fooddata Central (4), RDA (5)

Can a fruit with such nutritional values be completely safe or can it harm you in any way?

When Can Custard Apple Be Harmful?

There are no clinical indications regarding the safety of custard apples during pregnancy. Here are some general beliefs.

  • Unripe fruit may irritate your stomach leading to digestion problems. So, consume only a fully grown, soft and plump custard apple.
  • Do not consume seeds as they might disturb your health.
  • If you have gestational diabetes, avoid taking the fruit as it is high in sugars.

How Do You Eat A Custard Apple?

Know the right technique to remove the pulp to eat the fruit easily.

  • Open the fruit using your hands or cut it to half.
  • Take a spoon and scoop out the flesh.
  • Sometimes the flesh closest to the skin and the central spine may taste a little bitter.

Selecting the best fruit: Ripe custard apples have pale green skin. They are juicy and sweet. You can also buy darker green fruits and store them at room temperature to ripen.

You may eat custard apple in a variety of ways during pregnancy.

  • Add a little lime juice for a complementary flavor.
  • Make it as a dessert and add a handful of nuts.
  • Prepare a smoothie, milkshake or add to ice cream.
  • Add some honey instead of sugar, if you have a sweet tooth. You may also try brown sugar. However, custard apples in itself are sweet and you may not need a sweetner.

If you are bored of eating whole fruits, you may also make some delicious recipes.

A Few Simple Recipes With Custard Apple

1. Custard apple milkshake

Custard apple milkshake

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Custard apple – 3 medium
  • Skimmed milk – 4 cups
  • Brown sugar – 3tsp
  • Fresh cream – 2tbsp
  • Ice cubes – As required

How to:

  1. Extract the pulp from custard apples, and remove seeds.
  2. Blend the pulp, milk, cream, sugar and ice cubes until you get a smooth consistency.

2. Custard apple ice cream

Custard apple ice cream

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Custard apple – 3 to 4 cups pulp
  • Skimmed milk – 2 cups
  • Milk powder – 1 cup
  • Powdered brown sugar – 1/3 cup
  • Fresh cream – 1/2 cup
  • Vanilla essence – 1 tsp

How to:

  1. Mix milk, milk powder, sugar powder, fresh cream, and vanilla essence in a large bowl, and stir well until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Add custard apple pulp and mix again.
  3. Pour mixture into a shallow container, cover and freeze until it is set.
  4. Blend the mixture until you get a smooth consistency.
  5. Put the mixture again in the shallow container, cover, and freeze.
  6. Eat it either plain or top it with dry fruits.

Note: Choosing the right ingredients is important during pregnancy. Small changes like replacing full cream milk with skimmed milk or castor sugar with brown sugar could help maintain health.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can you eat the seeds of custard apple?

Swallowing a seed or two will not harm you as your body flushes them out in stool. However, in general, custard apple seeds have abortifacient properties and are therefore mildly toxic.

2. Can you eat custard apples during periods?

A decoction made from custard apple leaves is said to support blood flow during periods. However, there are no clinical studies to establish a link.

3. Can you eat custard apples if you have gestational diabetes?

Custard apples are rich in sugars, and can only be taken in limited amounts when diabetes is under control. It has a moderate glycemic index (9) and avoiding it completely is not required. In any case, an expectant woman with gestational diabetes must eat fruits (any) in controlled amounts.

4. Can you eat custard apples during a cold?

It is believed that custard apple is a cooling fruit. However, that does not mean it causes cold.  

Eat fresh and ripe custard apples, which are tasty and healthy. You can also replace a dessert with this fruit to gain maximum benefits from your diet. However, just like any other food, limit the consumption to avoid any side-effects.

Have some favorite recipes with custard apple? Share them with us in the comment section below.

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