The maprang is an evergreen tree known for its edible fruits. Maprang grows to a maximum height of 25 meters and has large leaves, between 13 and 45 cm long and 5 to 7 cm wide, with either an elliptic or a lanceolate shape.
Maprang fruits are green and have a shape similar to a mango, turning yellow or orange when ripe. They have a diameter between 2 and 5 cm, with a pink seed. The whole fruit is edible, even the skin. Its smell resembles turpentine, while the taste is variable and can be either sweet or sour.
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The species is part of the Anacardiaceae family, which also includes other cultivated plants such as the mango or the cashew. It is a flowering tree with the original range in Southeast Asia.
Maprang is a sizeable and beautiful tree, with an upright trunk that transforms into a dense crown. Its leaves resemble the ones of the related mango tree. The flowers are located on axillary panicles and are small in size, with a cream color. Seeds are also edible and have cotyledons with a bright purple color.
Depending on the location, there are regional variations of the seasons of flowering and harvest. Maprang blooms during November and December in Thailand and the fruits become ripe in April or May. It has a longer flowering season in Indonesia, from June to November, where harvesting starts in March and lasts until early summer.
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Unripe maprang fruits are pale green in color but this eventually changes when the fruit ripens. It turns yellow or orange when fully mature. The small seeds inside the fruit resemble the ones of the mango. The endosperm is bitter and astringent, with a color that varies from white to pink or purple. The species has a dense crown, which makes it popular as an ornamental shade tree that also produces fruits as an added bonus.
This exotic tropical fruit has a delicious taste and also provides a number of health benefits. Like other fruits, it is very rich in vitamin C, a very powerful antioxidant that protects the skin by boosting the formation of collagen. Maprang is also rich in beta-carotene, which is another compound essential for skin health. In addition, the maprang fruit has a high content of water, which provides hydration to our skin.
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Besides vitamin C, the maprang also provides a large amount of plant protein. This combination increases the rate of cell regeneration and speeds up repair, so wounds are healed faster. Consuming this fruit improves protein metabolism and the synthesis of collagen.
The maprang fruit is also good for digestion, since it is rich in both water and dietary fibers, which allow the stomach to operate effectively. It prevents a number of digestive problems, including cancer. Researchers have established that a daily supply of about 26 grams of fibres can greatly reduce the risk of cancer. As a result, gastrointestinal tumours can be prevented by including maprang fruits in your regular diet.
The human body consists of about 55% water, while the water content in the blood is 82%. As a result, we need plenty of water for a proper circulatory system. The maprang supplies a large amount of water, which allows the blood to flow freely. Adequate hydration is a must for a healthy life.
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The percentage of water in the brain is over 70%, much higher than most people think. Since the maprang fruit is very rich in water, consuming it will slowly release liquid in the body and contributes to the brain function. Water is essential for all body functions and especially needed for a healthy brain.
Water plays many other roles in the human body. It is required for the elimination of toxins and in the smooth operation of most internal organs. The body regulates its temperature through perspiration, which needs a large amount of water. This process also cleans the body by eliminating impurities and toxins. A separate mechanism that gets rid of toxins and is facilitated by water is reabsorption. Adequate hydration can prevent numerous diseases, for example cancer, diabetes, strokes and other heart conditions.
Another essential nutrient supplied by maprang that reduces the risk of heart disease is dietary fiber. Studies have revealed that a daily serving of 26 grams of fiber greatly reduces the risk of heart conditions, by about 40%. As a result, a diet rich in fiber can provide major health benefits.
All internal organs need a lot of water, especially the lungs, which have a water content of up to 90%. Eating maprang can supply the liquid needed for optimal breathing functions.
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This fruit is also rich in beta carotene, an essential compound for eye health. The human body transforms it into vitamin A, which is one of the most important nutrients for healthy vision. It also provides additional health benefits, for example in the maintenance of the skin.
The fiber supplied by maprang is useful in weight loss diets as well. It makes our digestion more effective and stimulates excretion, providing a sensation of fullness that eliminates the need for snacks between meals.
Sweet types of maprang fruits are usually consumed raw but cooking them in syrup is popular as well. Sambal is a traditional Asian spicy condiment prepared from whole unripe maprangs, while asinan is made from pickled fruits. Fresh leaves are edible and can be added in salads or consumed with sambal. The bitter endosperm causes the edible seed to be discarded usually.
Young unripe maprang fruits serve as an ingredient in curries or are prepared as pickles. Fresh shoots and young leaves are tasty green vegetables and can be mixed in salads, while a popular Indonesian dish pairs them with rice. Young fruits are needed for the traditional asinan and rojak and they are also prepared as pickles and used for condiments. Ripe maprang can be prepared as a stew or beverage, but making a jam from it is also possible. Young pickled maprangs are especially popular in Thailand. Dried maprang fruits can be eaten as snacks or added to halwa in order to improve its taste.
The maprang tree is native to Asia and especially found in Indonesia and Malaysia. It is not widely cultivated but can sometimes be found in tropical plantations.
Wild maprangs enjoy low elevations of up to 305 m above sea level. However, it is possible to cultivate the maprang tree at higher altitudes of more than 800 m. For best results, maprang should be planted in soil with good drainage and fertility. It can be propagated easily, by grafting, seed or air layers. Grafted maprang trees produce the first fruits after 5 or 6 years, while the ones growing from seed need between 8 and 10 years. Maprang fruits become ripe from May to July in Hawaii and between March and June in Indonesia.