Gac is a rare fruit found in Southeast Asia, primarily northern Vietnam. It is also known as Fruit from Heaven, due to its nutritional superiority. The high antioxidant and immune boosting properties of lycopene, carotenoids and healthy oils contain the highest concentration of beta carotene of any known fruit or vegetable, ten times more than carrots.
Gac is harvested only two months each year, in December and January. Its beautiful orange-red spikey exterior peel is toxic and should not be cooked or eaten. The leaves can be dried or brewed. The inner pulp has large soft gel-like seeds containing the bulk of Gac’s nutrients. Gac appears as if it would taste fruity and sweet, similar to kiwi or pineapple, but the taste is bland and slightly bitter, closer to an unripe melon, avocado or squash. The upside is that Gac can be used as both a savory or sweet food addition by spicing or sugaring the seeds and pulp into other ingredients. Gac is best suited to be cooked with rice to make a pudding or mixing with other ingredients to enhance its superpowers of antioxidants.
A report from the US National Institutes of Health states that gac cooked, juiced, in capsule, powder or liquid form have proven beneficial for eye health from zeaxanthin, which helps shield ultraviolet rays from the eye, lowering eye tissue oxidization and improving night vision.
For immune system enhancement, beta-carotene from gac converts in the body to vitamin A and helps in the healthy development of white blood cells, including lymphocytes, which are important “foot soldiers” in the immune system, enabling the body to defend itself against disease.The lycopene and beta-carotene in Gac benefit skin health by lessening oxidative damage in tissue. Think of oxidation as the “rusting” of our cells. The ingredients in Gac reduce the rusting process and contribute to healthier skin.
The various antioxidants in Gac fruit enhance heart health by specifically combating hardening of the arteries. Additionally, both lycopene and beta-carotene show protective activity against the risk of heart attack. Lycopene helps to reduce enlargement of the prostate. There is also evidence that lycopene can help to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
Southeatern Asians have known the benefits of Gac for centuries. It is reserved as a ceremonial food for Tet Vietnamese New Year, marriages, births and special celebrations. It is also used for medicinal soothing and healing throughout Asia and Africa. Gac extracts are making their way into the US in juices, health stores, food and vitamin supplements, skin care products, spas and cosmetics. The delicate gac seeds can be purchased online for growing your own vines.
Source: 2014 Report, United States National Institutes of Health http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25367308
Discover the New Vietnam!
Go to Expedia.com to start your Vietnam trip.
Did you know there’s a Sheraton in Saigon? For all available hotels in Vietnam, take a look at Hotels.com.
Want to make your friends envious? Tell them “I stayed in a Bed & Breakfast at Ho Chi Minh City.”
Last of all, don’t forget Travel insurance. Like glue, boring but necessary.