Thursday, October 16, 2008

Warning: Star Fruit (a.k.a.) Carambola

I got an email earlier about the dangers of eating a star fruit. With the vast number of email scams going around, I did not immediately believe in it. But since it's food, and it looks familiar (I must have eaten it once, or twice, or a couple of times in the past), I am concerned and wanted to see if it's real. So I did my search, and voila! Apparently, there's truth behind it.

The Starfruit or Star Fruit, a.k.a the Carambola, is a popular tropical fruit throughout Southeast Asia, Trinidad, Malaysia, and parts of East Asia. It is also commercially grown in the United States in South Florida and Hawaii for it's fruit. A website said it is gaining popularity in the United States. Is it true? Let me know, I'm curious.

Despite the fact that it is a seemingly harmless fruit, it is not entirely safe - especially for individuals with kidney trouble. The presence of the oxalic acid in the fruit can cause hiccups, vomiting, nausea, and mental confusion. The symptoms in patients with chronic renal failure or end-stage renal disease vary and include insomnia, intractable hiccups, agitation, muscle weakness, confusion, consciousness disturbances of various degrees, seizures, and cardiorespiratory arrest. Uraemic patients have had fatal outcomes after ingestion of star fruits. Drug interactions could also be fatal.
The various star fruit subspecies contain different toxins, including a powerful neurotoxin that is suspected to accumulate in blood, cross the blood-brain barrier in chronic renal failure patients, and eventually cause irreversible damage.

Star fruit intoxication is a neglected but serious fruit intoxication frequently observed in patients with chronic renal failure. Because no effective treatment is currently available, patients— especially those who are newly diagnosed with chronic renal failure or end-stage renal disease—must be warned not to ingest star fruit, even in small amounts.
There are, however, recipes all over the internet on star fruit. Some people believe it's safe for healthy individuals... but I believe prevention is always better than cure. If it's bad for those with kidney trouble, then maybe there's a slight, unnoticeable effect on the healthy ones - the kind that builds up, and would eventually come up after several years. Would you risk it? The next time I'll be offered a piece, I think I'll have to pass...

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