What Is Gac Fruit? And Is Gac Fruit Healthy?
I found this strange fruit while traveling through Thailand a few weeks ago. It’s so odd looking that I was worried it was fake and plastic at first!
As the sign I saw pointed out, gac fruit juice is often known as a fruit from heaven and it is a pretty rare fruit.
So, what is gac fruit? And is gac fruit healthy to eat?
What Is Gac Fruit?
Gac fruit (Momordica cochinchinensis), also known as Baby Jackfruit, Spiny Bitter Gourd, Sweet Gourd, or Cochinchin Gourd, is a bright orange spikey fruit found in Southeast Asia.
It’s only harvested for two months each year (December and January) and is often used on special occasions in Vietnam as well as in traditional Chinese medicines.
What Does Gac Fruit Taste Like?
Gac fruit has very little taste (someone described it as tasting a bit like avocado and I would agree) – it’s not sweet at all and has a very mild taste and mushy texture.
The outer shell of the gac fruit is not edible, so make sure to only eat the soft pulp surrounding the large seeds inside the fruit. The seeds are also edible and are used in traditional Chinese medicines.
Is Gac Fruit Healthy?
As with most fruits and vegetables that are orange/red in color, gac fruit contains a high concentration of beta-carotene and lycopene. And most of the claimed health benefits of the gac fruit arise out of this high beta-carotene and lycopene concentration.
In fact, per gram, gac fruit has more beta-carotene than carrots or sweet potatoes (which already have pretty high concentrations).
The gac fruit pulp is often mixed with glutinous rice to make a Vietnamese dish called xôi gac, which sounds to me like a natural golden rice that can help prevent vitamin A deficiencies (beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body).
And just to make gac fruit even healthier, a 2005 study found that gac fruit contained a protein that inhibited tumor growth in mice.
Is Gac Fruit Paleo?
Yes, gac fruit is Paleo – it’s low in sugar and very high in certain nutrients like beta-carotene and lycopene. However, because it has no sweetness, gac fruit juice is typically mixed with other fruit juices and sugar to make it taste better. So watch out for any extra non-Paleo ingredients when you buy foods/supplements containing gac fruit.
Where Can You Find Gac Fruit?
It’s unlikely you’ll see fresh gac fruit in many countries outside of Southeast Asia as it’s only harvested 2 months per year and exportation of the fresh fruit is limited. However, some people have been able to take gac fruit seeds and to plant them in various countries around the world (they are apparently fairly easy to grow).
If you’re into gardening, then you can give growing the gac fruit a try by buying the gac fruit seeds on Amazon here.
Gac fruit juices are also sold on Amazon, although they’re blended with other fruits, natural flavorings, and preservatives. So, they’re not recommended.
Your best bet for trying gac fruit is to find them while they’re in season (December and January) when traveling through Southeast Asian countries like Thailand and Vietnam.