Health Benefits of Tropical Fruit

Suffering from any ailments? If so, try eating more tropical fruits.

At the Agriculture Heritage Park (Taman Warisan Pertanian) in Putrajaya, Malaysia there is an extensive orchard with a wide variety of tropical fruit trees together with information regarding their supposed health benefits and other uses.

Star Fruit can cure hangovers? Now they tell me!

According to this, mangosteen is the best tasting fruit in the world. I usually end up throwing about half of them away as  they bruise and spoil easily. As for star fruit, the look is better than the taste in my opinion but they seem to have a lot of medicinal benefits.

You don't find many cempedaks in Sainsburys.

Ciku or Sapodila has multiple uses. The fruit is rich in vitamins and anti-oxidants, the seeds when crushed have a diuretic effect and can expel bladder and kidney stones while the bark contains chicle, the main ingredient for chewing gum.

Cempedak is a native Malaysian fruit from the same family as the jackfruit, the main difference being that cempedak grows in bunches whereas jackfruits grow individually. The fruit has medicinal qualities and the tree’s strong timber is used in house and boat-building. Jackfruit timber is used for making furniture and musical instruments.

Pomelos are the largest member of the citrus family and are useful for losing weight as they satisfy hunger and speed up the breakdown of protein and fat. When they are in season you should eat them as often as you can to remain in perfect health.

Rambutan is derived from the Malay word ‘rambut’  meaning hair. I find them very satisfying to peel. Monkeys like them too.

Just about to rain in Putrajaya.

Dragon Fruit have scaly red skin and pink or white flesh with black dots. They are great to look at on the breakfast buffet but the taste usually disappoints (rather bland). But they are high in vitamin C, they can reduce the risk of cancer and treat high blood pressure.

Durian is the most famous of Malaysian fruits due to its powerful aroma, distinctive taste and custardy texture. The famous 19th century naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace said ‘to eat durian is a new sensation worth a voyage to the East to experience’. I agree with him. I love them but they are not everybody’s cup of tea. As you can see from the photo they grow big  and they sprout from the tree already wrapped in plastic bags because they smell so bad!

Longan, also known as mata kucing or cat eye, contains anti-oxidants and apparently can cure snake bites. Not very useful information unless you happen to be carrying a bunch of longan when you get bitten.

Other fruits featured in the park include guava, which has 3 times more vitamin C than an orange,  vitamin A and B, can help treat type-2 diabetes,  inhibit the growth of cancer cells and is good for anti-aging skin care.

Pandanus relieves wind - hence the name?

Apart from fruit trees, the Agriculture Heritage Park has herbs and spices, rubber trees, oil palms and even a mini rice paddy field.

Lemon Grass (serai) is of course famous for dishes like tom yam soup and rendang. No only does it add a delicious flavour, it can treat headaches, rheumatism, sore joints and urinary problems.

Pandanus or screwpine (pandan wangi) is a common food flavouring and colouring in Malaysian  cuisine. It can help to relieve wind and aids digestion problems.

Citronella (serai wangi) is well known as an insect repellent (especially mosquitoes) but it is also a snake repellent. So rub some of this on your body and you won’t need to carry a bunch of longans with you!  Citronella oil can also relieve abdominal pains.

Java Tea or cat’s whiskers (misai kuching)  is a non-descript sort of herb (looks a bit like mint) but it seems to have miraculous qualities. It is claimed to clean blood, treat kidney stones, lumbago, kidney inflammation, fever, diabetes, high blood pressure and urinary problems.

Another miracle plant apparently is Ylang-Ylang (kenanga) , a vine said to be an antibiotic and antiseptic, good for pimples and matte-face, acts an anti-aging agent, can reduce malarial fever, cure asthma and breathing problems. It smells nice too.

So remember, a durian a day keeps the doctor away. It also keeps everyone else away.

This guy has been eating too many pomelos.

Putrajaya – Four Parks Walk

Putrajaya, the federal administrative capital of Malaysia and the place I call home, is a green town. Often described as a City in a Garden, around 40% of its 4500 hectare area has been set aside for parks and green spaces. Putrajaya has a population of around 70,000 (planned to increase to 330,000 eventually). During office hours the population surges to 100,000 or so as hordes of civil servants commute into the city from outlying areas. At weekends though the streets are fairly empty and the parks are completely deserted. I don’t know where the 70,000 residents go at weekends – perhaps to the malls – but it seems they are not keen on walking which is a pity because Putrajaya’s parks are very beautiful. Last Saturday I took a circular walk lasting 4 hours which included four of Putrajaya’s many parks. I had the place to myself as usual.

Putrajaya Four Parks Walk

Taman Putra Perdana

This park lies in the heart of Putrajaya on a low hill affording fine views over the city. At the highest point sits the Istana Melawati, a royal retreat for the King and the second-ranked national palace after Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur. The Shangri-La Hotel is located next door.

Istana Melawati atop Taman Putra Perdana Perdana PutraI wish my bougainvilla looked like this. View of the Prime Minister's OfficeThe pink mosque, Putra Mosque

Taman Wawasan

Crossing the Putra Bridge on Putrajaya’s main thoroughfare I was able to stand in the middle of the road to take this photo without fear of being struck by traffic.

Putrajaya's roads are quiet during weekends.

A happy couple in traditional costumes was posing for wedding photos.

Ugh, there's a caterpillar in these flowers!

Leaving the road I entered the second park, Taman Wawasan. This park has plenty of picnic spots, gazebos, jogging tracks, cycle paths and even a pebble beach though I am not sure I would brave enough to swim in the lake having spotted some rather large lizards cruising around.

Looking back towards the Prime Minister's Office. Taman Wawasan

Wisma Putra Pretty pathway Lotus ponds

Taman Warisan Pertanian

Nearby is the Agricultural Heritage Park which highlights the important role agriculture plays in Malaysia’s economy. This is the only park where you have to pay an entrance fee (cheap). The park contains rubber trees, oil palms, coffee, fruit and cocoa trees and has a demonstration of how rubber is produced.

Rubber trees. The food stalls are popular.

At the entrance is an outdoor eating area including a branch of the famous Kajang Satay.

Presint 16 Promenade

Close to the Agricultural Park is the start of the promenade which runs along the lake shoreline all the way back to the Putra Mosque via the Alamanda shopping mall. On some islands in the lake, isolated from humans, live colonies of egrets, night herons, grey herons, green herons, purple herons, cattle egrets, black crown neck herons, painted storks and cinnamon bitterns.

Painted Storks

This group of painted storks seems oblivious to the threat posed by the large monitor lizard behind them. Judging by its fat tummy, perhaps it has already eaten. Or maybe its a female lizard about to lay eggs on the island and the storks are hanging around to dig up the eggs and eat them as soon as the lizard leaves. Who is the predator here?

Don't look now but there's someone behind us!

For information on two more of Putrajaya’s lovely parks, Taman Wetlands and Botanical Gardens, you can take a look at my website

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