Bael Fruit Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

dried bael fruit in a bowl

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Bael fruit is a sweet, aromatic fruit that grows on the bael tree (Aegle marmelos) that is native to India and Southeast Asia. It's typically eaten fresh, dried, or in juice form. The extract of bael fruit, leaves, and seeds produces impressive health effects. However, bael fruit products may be dangerous at higher doses, especially for certain populations. Here's some background on this exotic fruit.

Bael Fruit Nutrition Facts

Bael is an uncommon fruit and nutrition information for the fruit is not currently available from the USDA. The following is provided by the most recent data from Purdue University's Horticulture Department for 100 grams of bael fruit provided by Purdue University.

  • Fat: 0.2–0.4 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 28–32 grams
  • Protein: 1.8–2.6 grams

Carbs

Bael fruit is primarily composed of carbohydrates, with about 30 grams per 100 grams of the edible portion of fruit. Other than carbohydrate, the weight of bael fruit comes mainly from water from (55%–62%).

Fats

There is minimal fat in bael fruit, with less than 1/2 gram per 100 grams.

Protein

Bael fruit is low in protein. Out of 100 grams of fruit, there are between 1.8 and 2.6 grams of protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

Bael fruit has vitamin C, beta carotene, and some B-vitamins. It also provides some potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, and iron.

Health Benefits

Bael has a long history of use in Ayurveda for the treatment of digestive issues, and to combat infections from viruses, fungi, and bacteria.

When it comes to modern scientific studies, bael's health benefits have not been fully evaluated in humans. The following is a summary of recent preliminary research using extracts from the plant that produces bael fruit.

Prevents Bacteria-Induced Diarrhea

Compounds extracted from bael fruit demonstrate powerful effects in fighting off dangerous bacteria. The bacteria Shigella dysenteriae binds to cells in the colon, causing diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain.

Young children, travelers, and people with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to shigella infection. Studies show that in the presence of lectins isolated from bael fruit, shigella is less able to adhere to colon cells, providing protection against infection.

Fights off Skin Infections

Along with antibacterial effects, the extracts from bael fruit, roots, and leaves have antifungal and antiviral abilities as well. Bael leaf oil inhibits common types of fungus that infect the skin. The same is true for several bacterial strains, including those responsible for staph infections. As a potential first-line treatment, it seems that bael fruit possesses useful compounds for fighting skin infections.

Protects the Stomach

Extract taken from the seeds of bael fruit reduces gastric juice volume and acidity in animal studies. Both methanolic and aqueous extracts from bael seeds appear to promote healing from ulcers. Furthermore, extracts from the leaves of bael fruit provide antioxidant protection against damage that radiation does to the GI tract. This may help improve the health and quality of life of someone undergoing radiation treatment for cancer.

May Reduce Cancer Risk

Extract from bael fruit contains antioxidants with the ability to scavenge for free radicals, especially nitric oxide and 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH). Various forms of cancer are caused by the damage done to cells by free radicals. Although bael fruit is not a proven cancer treatment, it may help reduce some of the cumulative damage that increases cancer risk over time.

May Aid Diabetes Management

One of the antioxidants in the stem bark of bael fruit is umbelliferone β-D-galactopyranoside (UFG). This compound has been studied for its impact on diabetic rats. Rats in the test group were injected with a dose of UFG for 28 days, which significantly decreased plasma insulin levels and fasting blood glucose.

UFG also produced anti-inflammatory effects, suggesting it might be an ideal diabetes treatment upon further investigation. However, it is not clear how much of this compound is available in the edible portion of bael fruit.

Allergies

Bael fruit is not a common allergen, however, it is possible to develop allergies to any food. Watch out for symptoms like vomiting, shortness of breath, hives, swelling of the tongue, or dizziness, especially if they develop shortly after eating bael fruit. See an allergist for a formal evaluation if you suspect an allergy to bael fruit.

Adverse Effects

Bael fruit is likely safe when consumed as a food, however, there are limited human studies on bael's safety, especially in the form of a concentrated supplement or extract. Leaf extracts from bael fruit can have a strong impact on male fertility, inhibiting the creation and mobility of sperm. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should exercise caution with bael products and speak to their doctor about any supplement usage.

Varieties

There are several varieties of bael fruit. Smaller, hard-shelled varieties grown in Florida are used for medicinal purposes rather than typical fruit consumption. Larger and softer fruits with thinner rinds, higher sugar content, and fewer seeds are more suited for commercial growth. These include Kaghzi, Darogaji, Rampuri, Ojha, Khamaria, and Azamati.

When It's Best

Bael fruit is native to India and Southeast Asia and harvested between March and April. It is also found throughout the year in Florida. Bael fruit is picked when it's still yellowish-green. Let it sit until the stem separates from the fruit and the green tint disappears. Avoid fruit that is bruised or showing signs of mold.

Storage and Food Safety

Follow general food safety practices when handling fresh bael fruit. Wash your hands with soap and water and rinse fruit under running water before cutting into it. Always keep bael fruit separate from raw meat, poultry, or seafood.

If you purchase bael fruit juices, make sure the product has been pasteurized. Most juices sold in the United States are pasteurized and should contain a warning label if not. However, freshly squeezed juices sold by the glass at juice bars and farmers markets may not be labeled. Always use caution with unpasteurized products, especially if you have a compromised immune system.

How to Prepare

Bael fruit can be eaten fresh like other fruits. In India, a drink called sherbert is made by adding milk and sugar to seeded bael fruit pulp. Another popular drink is made by combining bael fruit pulp with tamarind.

To make jam, pulp from mature, unripe bael fruit is mixed with citric acid and sometimes combined with guava for added sweetness. In Thailand, young shoots and leaves from the bael fruit plant are used as a seasoning.

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