Gac fruit: The flavour of Vietnam with a punch of carotenoids

An up and coming super fruit, Gac has been dubbed the “Fruit from Heaven.” With its exceptional flavour and vibrant colour, gac fruit is used in traditional Vietnamese dishes to mark special occasions. Be it a wedding or the arrival of a new year, its dark orange pulp expresses life, vitality, and longevity. Studies in recent years have supported this conviction by revealing the high levels of antioxidants contained in gac1,2. It is no wonder that the Western world is turning with enthusiasm towards this unique fruit.

The brilliant red-orange hue of ripe gac fruit is due to its high content of beta-carotene and lycopene. In fact, gac has been found to contain 76 times more lycopene than commercial tomatoes3. Beta-carotene and lycopene are antioxidants capable of quenching free radicals. This action is documented to provide lycopene and beta-carotene with its protective effects against disease4. The body also converts beta-carotene to Vitamin A, which promotes a healthy immune system and helps to prevent eye problems5.

Not only has gac fruit been linked to these health benefits, it is also has a unique taste. The flavour of this spiny gourd is reminiscent of cantaloupe with hints of green melon and carrot. While it is not a flavour familiar to the Western population, it is well accepted in gac-producing countries among both adults and children6. Thus, the possibility of using gac as a dietary supplement to overcome the menace of vitamin A deficiency in Vietnamese children has been investigated6.  The high bioavailabilty of pro-vitamin A in gac fruit and its agreeable flavour make it an ideal candidate for supplementation6.

Gac fruit is easy to grow and can commonly be found hanging from the lattices of Vietnamese homes. However, due to its short growing season, it is only available from November to January. Additionally, the import of fresh gac fruit has been banned by the United States Food and Drug Administration due to concerns over exotic pests7. Fortunately, Novotaste has developed a gac fruit flavour, which replicates the taste of this delicacy, so that can be enjoyed all year round throughout the world. Experience the richness of this “fruit from Heaven”: try Novotaste’s gac fruit flavour in your products today.

References:
1Kha, T., Nguyen, M., Roach, P. (2010). Effects of spray drying conditions on the physicochemical and antioxidant properties of the Gac (Momordica cochinchinensis) fruit aril powder. Journal of Food Engineering. 98. 385-392.
2Aoki, H. et al. (2002).Carotenoid Pigments in Gac Fruit. Biosci. Biotechnol. Biochem., 66, 2479-2482.
3Ishida, B., Turner, C., Chapman, M., and McKeon, T. (2004). Fatty Acid and Carotenoid Composition of Gac (Momordica cochinchinensis Spreng) Fruit. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 52, 274-279.
4Sies, H., Stahl, W. and Sundquist, A.R., (1992). Antioxidant Functions of Vitamins. Vitamin E and C, β-carotene, and other carotenoids. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci., 669, 7-20.
5 Weber, D. and Grune, T. (2011), The contribution of β-carotene to vitamin A supply of humans. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201100230.
6Vuong, T., Dueker, S., Murphy, S. (2002). Plasma ß-carotene and retinol concentrations of children increase after a 30-d supplementation with the fruit Momordica cochinchinensis (gac). American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 75, 872-879.
7United States Department of Agriculture. (2010). Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Import Manual. Washington D.C. : USDA. Retrieved from: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/plants/manuals/ports/downloads/fv.pdf