In praise of the lowly ‘aratiles’ 

Aratiles, Latin name Muntingia calabura and Kerson fruit in English, is packed with vitamins and anti-oxidants. It can help prevent certain diseases and may help remedy certain ailments, like diabetes and stomach ulcers.

Aratiles has always been among my favorite fruits. The house where I grew up had two trees that had fruits the whole year round. You can imagine my delight when my nephew brought me a small bag of aratiles from Baras, Rizal. 

But I never knew if the tiny fruits had any health benefits. You read about what nutrients you get from bananas, mangoes, guyabano and other fruits but it seemed researches had not looked into what aratiles could do for your health.  

It did not really matter to me. I just enjoy the taste of those tiny, perfectly round fruits. 

As I enjoyed the aratiles from Baras, however, I decided to check if anybody had thought of looking into its health benefits. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find this piece from the website practicalhealthand wellnesssolutions.com 

It seems the lowly aratiles can stand toe to toe, so to speak, with more high-profile fruits. 

As it turns out, aratiles, Latin name Muntingia calabura and Kerson fruit in English, is packed with vitamins and anti-oxidants. It can help prevent certain diseases and may help remedy certain ailments, like diabetes and stomach ulcers.  

The cherry-like fruit, according to the website, has been used as medicine for decades in Asia and Latin America, where the tree grows. “And now, scientific research has backed up this tradition and found out that Aratiles /Kerson fruits have remarkable medicinal properties. This is due to the fruit’s ability to lessen inflammation and the development of gastric ulcers and can be a natural remedy for other known health issues as well,” the website reports. 

Filipinos generally just eat the fruits but apparently, in other places, they are now making jams and tarts out of them or are using the fruits as baking ingredients and supplements.  

The leaves, according to the website, may also be extracted and made into fusion teas. 

Here are some health benefits of aratiles, according to practicalhealthandwellnesssolutions.com: 

  • Cold and flu treatment: Aratiles is rich in vitamin C – around seven tablespoons of the fruit can yield 150 milligrams of the vitamin – to help prevent or cut the duration of colds and flu. Vitamin C also strengthens the immune system 
  • Friend to diabetics: “Regular consumption of Kerson fruit can help maintain blood sugar levels and, according to several medical studies, can also minimize injection dosage for diabetics. In a study conducted in 2011, researchers found that the excellent effect of say, 500 milligrams” of aratiles can be felt within an hour. 
  • Healthy heart:  Tea made from the leaves of the fruit tree can boost heart health. The leaves have nitric acid properties to improve blood flow by relaxing the blood vessels.  These can help prevent the thickening and hardening of the arteries’ walls. They can also lower the levels of uric acid and help prevent high blood pressure, heart disease and kidney disease. 
  • Prevent gastric ulcers: Aratiles’ anti-inflammatory properties can reduce further development of ulcers, according to a scientific study. The same study also found that the fruit’s effects on stomach activities could be compared to some medication for heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease, peptic ulcer disease, among other related ailments. 

Aratiles also counteracts stomach acid and provides a shield to the mucous membrane of the stomach while simultaneously reducing the acidity of gastric content. 

* Gout solution: Regular consumption of aratiles,  at least 9-12 pieces daily, can help reduce pain from gout, the painful form of arthritis, because of its anti-inflammatory properties. 

  • Prevents infections and boosts immunity: Aratiles has natural antibacterial properties that combat harmful bacteria. It also has antibiotic properties and is a great antioxidant. The fruit can boost immunity, protect from diseases and shorten the duration of illnesses. 
  • May help prevent cancer: Although further studies need to be done, it has been found that aratiles leaves have flavonoids that may help prevent the development of cancerous tumors. 
  • Nutritious: Aside from being rich in vitamin C, aratiles also contains B-vitamins, calcium, phosphorus and iron.These nutrients promote strong bones, improve blood circulation, keep the body hydrated and fight anemia, among other things. Aratiles also has fiber, carbohydrates and protein. 

The best thing about the aratiles is that people do not have to pay for it. It grows in vacant lots and other open spaces, the seeds spread, no doubt, by birds who just love it. 

People who find most fruits expensive can just look for a nearby aratiles tree and get some important nutrients for free. 

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