Salak or snake fruit: characteristics and benefits

Salak is a curious fruit for its skin, but also for its benefits. To take advantage of them and know how to use it in the kitchen, read on.

Last update: November 19, 2021

Salacca zalacca is the scientific name of an exotic fruit of oriental origin also known as salak or snake fruit, I fell or snake fruit. All nicknames are due to the appearance of your skin. It is abundant in Southeast Asia and certain tropical countries.

It is recognized for its pharmacological properties thanks to its antioxidant capabilities. In addition, it is very nutritious. Its exquisite flavor makes it a favorite in Asian gastronomic culture.

Origin of the salak or snake fruit

According to Janick and Paull’s encyclopedia, salak comes from a species of palm in the family Arecaceae cultivated by Indonesians since 1500. It is a plant that grows wild and can bear fruit for up to 50 years in its natural environment..

A group of experts comment that this fruit is native to Indonesia, but has been distributed throughout Southeast Asia, in countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar. It has also spread to the Philippines, Australia, China, Suriname, and Spain.

In the American continent he arrived for the first time in Ecuador, prevailing in the Amazon, in the provinces of Napo, Sucumbíos and Orellana, since it develops better under the climatic conditions of the tropics.

Salak characteristics

The Salacca zalacca It is a kind of small palm with a very short stem. Its leaves have thorns and the fruits grow at the base of the palm.

A botanist says that salak grows in clusters that have 15 to 40 fruits and there are different varieties. They are covered with a brown skin with small spines, similar to the scales of snakes.

Variety salak Bali It has a reddish-brown hue and the texture of its shell also resembles the skin of a snake. The pulp is white with a beige tone and has 3 lobes that contain the seeds.

Its flavor ranges from sour to sweet with a crunchy texture. In addition, it is astringent when it is green and as it ripens it becomes sweeter.

The yellow salak has a texture and flavor similar to Bali, but its shell is yellow with golden tones. It has a delicate and smooth pulp, acid taste and lots of juice.

Nutritional properties

Cueva and Pizarra analyzed the nutritional characteristics of salak, finding interesting amounts of vitamins and minerals, as well as a high fiber content per 100 grams of fruit:

  • Humidity: 81.29 grams.
  • Protein: 0.69 grams.
  • Total carbohydrates: 17.11 grams.
  • Fiber: 16.55 grams.
  • Fat: 0.34 grams.
  • Match: 1169 milligrams / kilo.
  • Potassium: 1339 milligrams / kilo.
  • Calcium: 220 milligrams / kilo.
  • Magnesium: 607 milligrams / kilo.
  • Iron: 12 milligrams / kilo.
  • Zinc: 104 milligrams / kilo.
  • Vitamin C: 400 milligrams / kilo.
  • Vitamin B2: 6.32 milligrams / kilo.
  • Niacin: 240 milligrams / kilo.
  • Vitamin B1: 20 milligrams / kilo.

One review highlights that salak contains more phytochemicals than other exotic fruits. In addition, it also contains sugars that give it a sweet taste when ripe.

Compounds with pharmacological properties are mentioned in the same review. It contains flavonoids, phenolics, gallic acid, and many other antioxidants.

The texture of the fruit’s skin is striking and gives it its unique name.

Benefits of salak

The nutrients and phytochemicals that salak contains can improve some health problems and the fruit can be used in other industrial areas.

Antioxidant properties

Intake of antioxidants with food allows to combat the activity of free radicals in the body. Several laboratory tests have found a good antioxidant capacity in salak pulp, due to the presence of vitamin C.

Likewise, another study characterized the polyphenol content of salak and its antioxidant power in rats with high cholesterol. When supplemented with snake fruit pulp, a significant reduction in plasma lipids was observed.

Not only the pulp has antioxidant capacity. An investigation revealed that the skin of the snake fruit also contains enough polyphenols to increase its antioxidant potential.

May Help Control Type 2 Diabetes

A group of experts discovered that glucose level decreases with small amounts of salak vinegar. In addition, it managed to regenerate damaged pancreatic cells in experimental rats.

Science also found that this fruit has an inhibitory effect on certain digestive enzymes. This helps decrease glucose absorption in type 2 diabetic patients. However, more human studies are required to corroborate the effect.

May stabilize elevated uric acid levels

A review refers to the presence of 2 compounds in snake fruit: beta sitosterol and methyl ester, related to the relief of gout. Nevertheless, the methyl ester obtained a better activity to avoid the formation of uric acid crystals.

Could prevent chronic diseases

Although more human studies are required, in the journal Journal of Functional Foods It has been published that the presence of some antioxidants in salak fruit could have an anticancer effect. They also refer that These antioxidants can prevent heart disease, stroke, and menopausal symptoms.

Other properties

The fruit of the snake It is used in the food industry to isolate yeast used in making bread. This yeast has a better fermentation capacity than the traditional one, it allows a good development of the color of the crust and the crumb.

Fruit teas can be made, combining it with pineapple, for example. Some food technologists have found the optimal formula in a ratio of pineapple, salk and logan of 20:20:60 to develop a healthy and powerful drink.

Pineapple is a fruit that combines well with salak, especially to make infusions.

Gastronomic uses of salak

In Paull and Duarte’s book there are some preparations made with snake skin fruit. The authors state that ripe salak has a sweet or sour taste that pleases to most palates.

For other consumers it is good to prepare it raw, but most turn it into preserves, sweets, jams, juices, syrups and candies. When dried, they are eaten as chips.

In Thailand, a curry mix is ​​prepared with this fruit. In Malaysia, the dumplings, which are a kind of empanadas. The consistency of snake fruit makes for delicious cakes and is even recommended for weight loss.

In Ecuador, indigenous people consume it as a fresh, ripe fruit. In Asia, the ripe fruit is used as a raw material to make vinegar and wine.

Does salak have contraindications?

If this is the first time you have eaten snakeskin fruit, you should be careful with tolerance. Because it is recommended to only taste a small piece and wait. If there is no problem, then you can eat it, but not in excess.

Never combine green salak with milk. In case of constipation, do not consume the green fruit. The presence of tannins, which are astringent, decrease intestinal motility and produce obstruction.

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