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Special Features | National

FEATURE | Philippine lanzones, sweet and nutritious
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA - Baskets of the sweet tasting lanzones, grown, celebrated, and a source of understandable pride of at least five Philippine provinces, have started dotting markets and sidewalks of burgeoning Metro Manila, including a stretch of Elliptical Road in Quezon City.

Lanzones, or Lansium domesticum, also known as “langsat,” a fruit from the family Meliaceae, is popularly grown in Laguna, Camiguin, Sulu, Davao del Norte, and Zamboanga del Norte.

Festivities have since been organized to promote lanzones production in the country, like the Paet-Taka-Lanzones Festival in Paete, Laguna in September.

But it is in Camiguin, an island province in Northern Mindanao, where the lanzones is celebrated with might and main in the third week of October with street dancing -- houses, street poles and people are decorated with lanzones fruits and leaves -- and programs by residents garbed in chromatic costumes.

There is a tableau of local culture, according to one who attended a recent celebration in the island province.

Laguna, noted as the birthplace of Jose Rizal, is also known as a province with abundant lanzones, as are the Mindanao provinces, which take pride as well in the durian (Durio zibethinus) tree of the hibiscus, or mallow, family (Malvaceae) and its fruit.

Lanzones, its delightfully sour or sweet taste feeling in the tastebuds, is now considered as priority High Value Commercial Crops of the Philippines.

Nutritionists say the fruit -- which is sold from a low of P40 to a high of P80 per half kilo -- is rich in vitamin A, which helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, mucus membranes, and skin.

Vitamin A, which promotes good vision, especially in low light, is also known as retinol or carotenoids, and is a fat soluble vitamin that plays a fundamental role in maintaining healthy skin, teeth, soft and skeletal tissue and mucous membranes.

Apart from vitamin A, nutritionists say lanzones contains carotene, a powerful oxidant which plays a basic role in protecting cells from radicals associated with many medical disorders.

Lanzones was originally native to the Malaysian peninsula, with the Malaysians calling it “langsat.”

Carotenes, especially beta carotene, occurs abundantly in nature and is estimated that nearly more than 500 different carotenoids like β-carotene, α-carotene, lutein, cryptoxanthins, and zea-xanthins are distributed throughout the plant and algae world.

Although many of these have proven independent functions, around 50 or more can be metabolized to vitamin A in the human body. β-carotene is the most prevalent carotenoid in the plant sources of food supply and is also known as pro-vitamin A.

Roughly, 6 µg (range varies widely 6-18 µg) of ß-carotene is equal to 1 RE (Retinol equivalents) or 3.33 IU of vitamin-A.

The fruit tree now grows across Southeast Asia, from Southern India to the Philippines, where a colorful festival is observed.

Being an important flavonoid compound, beta carotene has powerful antioxidant functions, helps the body scavenge free radicals, thus limiting the damage to cell membranes, DNA and protein structures in the cell, according to health care experts.

They add, quoting research studies, that dietary intake of foods high in β-carotene has positive association with decreased risk of cardio-vascular disease as well as oral cavity, and lung cancers.

Some say that when converted to vitamin A in the intestines it has all the functions of vitamin A such as visual cycle, reproduction (sperm production), maintenance of epithelial functions, growth and development.

According to nutritionists, a serving of lanzones contains approximately 100 g of the edible portion of the fruit.

Per serving, lanzones contains 86.5 g of moisture, 0.8 g of protein, 9.5 g of carbohydrates and 2.3 g of fiber.

The fruit also contains 20 g of calcium, 30 g of phosphorus, 13 IU of vitamin A, 89 mcg of thiamine, 124 mcg of riboflavin, 1 g of ascorbic acid and 1.1 mg of phytin per serving.

Lanzones, according to the "Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine," can be burnt with the dried peel from this fruit to drive away mosquitoes. The bark from the tree that grows the fruit can function as an astringent to treat diarrhea.

Powder from the bark can also help to treat scorpion stings. The lanzones fruit can serve as a febrifuge, meaning it lowers a person’s body temperature.

Others in health care services say lanzones contains riboflavin and thiamine, vitamin B2, and B1 respectively.

Riboflavin supports body growth and red blood cell production. Additionally, riboflavin helps the body to release energy from carbohydrates.

The body uses thiamine, which breaks down sugars, to help treat several nerve and heart conditions.

Great buy, doubtless.