What Is Gac Fruit?
Gac fruit (Momordica cochinchinensis) is a bright orange spikey fruit found in Southeast Asia. It’s only harvested for two months each year (December and January). It is often used on special occasions in Vietnam as well as in traditional Chinese medicines.
Sprengel found that the plant belonged to the Linnean genus Momordica and changed its name in 1826.
Gac grows as dioecious vines. Its male and female flowers are on separate plants, producing flowers typically 5–10 centimetres (2.0–3.9 in) in length. Its vines can extend to 20 metres (66 ft) long, and its flowers blooms once a year, single or in bundle, around two to three months after the vines are planted. In one season, a plant can produce from 30 to 60 fruits.
Typically, gac fruits are round or oblong, about 13 centimetres (5.1 in) in length and 10 centimetres (3.9 in) in diameter, covered with small spines on the exocarp. Upon ripening, it gradually changes colors, from green to yellow, orange and finally red.
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. 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).
Gac fruit is also high in lycopene, a carotenoid commonly found in tomatoes that has been linked to various health benefits including reducing the risk of strokes. And a 2005 study found that gac fruit contained a protein that inhibited tumor growth in mice.