Carambola (Starfruit) for Respiratory Health
September 30th, 2021
Lately I have been seeing a lot of this bright yellow fruit growing everywhere! Starfruit, commonly known as carambola here in Mexico, has many health benefits including benefitting the respiratory system and throat. This is mainly due to its anti-inflammatory abilities and components found in this fruit that can cut through mucus and phlegm.
In order to fully understand how carambola can aid in improved respiratory health, we must first understand normal and abnormal respiration. As you know, your pinkish-gray spongy lungs are responsible for allowing us to breathe. When we breathe in, air enters our lungs and oxygen from the air moves from our lungs to our bloodstream. As we breathe out, gases such as carbon dioxide moves from our blood to our lungs to be breathed out. This process is known as gas exchange and is essential to life. There are several other components of our respiratory system such as the trachea, muscles of the chest wall, diaphragm, blood vessels, bronchial tubes and alveoli, as well as the brain which allow this process to take place optimally. A very important part of this gas exchange happens in little air sacs found in our lungs called alveoli. When you breathe in, air is sucked in through our nose and mouth and our lungs expand. This air travels down our trachea (windpipe) and into our lungs. After passing through little tubes in our lungs called bronchial tubes (that look like branches on a tree), the air reaches the alveoli, and this is where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide take place, and either gets sent into the blood or out of our lungs. This entire track is lined with mucosa to protect the underlying tissues from infections.
Unfortunately, this process can go awry when we inhale droplets of organisms through our nose or mouth. When these enter our respiratory tract, they can invade the mucosa and cause inflammation. This inflammation can cause redness, swelling, excess mucous and phlegm build up as the body tries to protect the lungs. This can lead to a runny nose, sore throat and impaired breathing.
Carambola has the ability to improve respiratory health because of its high antioxidant content which has both anti-inflammatory and cooling effects. This promotes the soothing of redness, swelling and sore throats, as well promotes salivation, inhibits the production of excess phlegm, and has anti-microbial activities. On top of this, a particular phytochemical called saponins has the ability to foam when mixed with water – think of it like soap – so it has the ability to thin and loosen mucous to be coughed out. So, carambola contains anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and immune-boosting properties, guarding your body against fungi, bacteria and viruses, as well as stimulating the production of immune cells, for improved respiratory health. What a powerhouse of respiratory fitness!!
It is always best to choose a ripe carambola, which will be firm to touch, have no extra soft patches, have a bright yellow color, but could have slightly brown edges. Some small green patches are fine, however if it is mostly green, the fruit is not ripe and will not contain the full nutritional benefits!
CARAMBOLA THROAT SOOTHER
½ cup pineapple juice
4 carambolas (star fruit)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups hot water
1-2 tablespoon of honey (optional check sweetness)
Cut the ends off the carambola and chop roughly, grate the fresh ginger and place into a blender.
Add the pineapple juice to the carambola and ginger in a blender; process until smooth.
Pour the blended mixture through a sieve and separate half into each cup.
Discard the solids.
Stir in half the lemon juice and pour 1 cup of hot (near boiling) water into each cup, and add in the honey, adjusting to your desired sweetness. Stir well.
Decorate cups with a slice of carambola on each, breathe easy and enjoy the soothing benefits!