The Western world has been taken by surprise with the super antioxidant powers of the highly celebrated gac fruit. Vietnam is the primary source for this spectacular “super fruit” that has grown in rural areas of the country for thousands of years. The fruit is harvested from vines trailing through trellises around people’s homes when they go from green to a vibrant orange-red hue.
Gac Fruit Promotes Health
The health-promoting powers of the fruit is no longer a secret in North America and it is now consumed by people interested in natural alternatives to preventing disease, boosting the immune system and a long-lasting youthful appearance and vitality. This Asian treasure has such an extraordinary concentration of vitamins and minerals it is used to treat mild to common disorders rather than turning to prescription drugs.
Gac fruit is especially rich in:
- lycopene, zeaxanthin and beta carotene (antoxidants)
- vitamins A, C, and E
- essential fatty acids
- iron and zinc
The ripe fruit is available seasonally from September to December and is the cause for great celebration. For local Vietnamese people the ripening fruit hanging on the vines around the entrance way to their homes has always invoked feelings of anticipation for the imminent celebrations heralding the New Year.
The exterior of the fruit is hard and spiny once it ripens. The orange fruit inside forms thick and spongy cushions for 15 – 20 brilliant red seed pods. Traditional Vietnamese herbalists make a special tonic from the oil extracted from the seed membrane of the gac fruit. Vietnam depended on the oil for hundreds of years as an agent to assist with pregnancy, lactation and issues with vision. The oil has a pleasant, nutty flavor that children like and take to help promote healthy development and growth.
It is traditional to prepare celebration dishes made with gac fruit. Vietnam is famous for delicate rice dishes and the red pulp of the fruit is added to the rice, denoting life and vitality. The dish is served at wedding and important events, garnished with the whole seeds so everyone partaking of the offering knows the gac is fresh.
Since the gac fruit is so high in beneficial oils it is not shelf-stable and cannot be easily shipped. Gac products with the same high concentration of nutrients can be obtained through many health food stores in North America. Gac can be purchased as powder, frozen pulp, juice or oil