Zimbabwe has more types of wild fruits than even the natives are aware of. Different parts of this small country are known for different fruits, so no matter where you go, you’ll be sure to find something that will pleasantly surprise your taste buds and your body because they are all organic. Each one’s appearance will be stranger than the next one and that makes for a unique and nice change from the ones we eat daily.
I used the plural terms for each of the fruit, as very rarely do you hear people asking/requesting for just one of any of these fruits.
Also known as horned melon or African horned cucumber, this nutritious fruit is very tasty and though it’s seedier, the seeds are soft and totally chewable. Most of them usually have a slightly tangy taste but a lot of people add salt to them. They are green on the outside before they are fully ripe and yellow when they are ready to be eaten. The “horns” outside are quite sharp so it has to be handled with care. It has many health benefits and here are a few of them.Nutritional Value Includes:
- Reduces the appearance of wrinkles, scars and blemishes. ”Gaka” contains vitamin A & C as well as natural oxidants and organic compounds, which is great for skin repair, and keeping your skin looking young.
- Improves metabolism. Your thyroid gland needs zinc to produce the thyroid hormone which assists with metabolism and keeping up your energy levels. The gaka fruit is a great source of zinc.
- Helps with bone strength. Gaka is rich in calcium, which is needed by the body for the strength of bones.
This sweet wild loquat fruit drives Zimbabweans crazy. You’d have to have quite a good number to feel that you have had a fair portion and yet we love them. This is one fruit that says a lot about how people used to live long and healthy lives without the bags and bags of medication we need these days.Nutritional Benefits Include:
- The pectin is known for its intestinal regulation, and prevention of cancer cells from spreading because of its binding effect
- Potassium is a vital component to the body and cell fluids – ensuring the good working condition of the heart, kidneys, brain as well as muscle tissues
- Mazhanje contain antioxidants, iron and copper: you are ensured of a boost in immunity levels as the iron helps in the formulation of red blood cells, and protect the body from diseases
Baobab is known as the “Tree of Life” – acknowledging its nutrient-dense superfruit. Every single part of this massive tree is useful, not just for humans, but for the animals – with giant elephants chewing on the barks, weavers building nests, and the hollowed interiors are comfortable homes for reptiles. The baobab is native to the African Savannah, and so in order to see these majestic trees, you have to travel to Africa.Nutritional Benefits Include:
- An extremely rich source of Vitamin C (2-3 spoons) provides the body 33% of our daily Vitamin C requirement.
- Contains the highest amount of antioxidants of any known fruit
- Baobab contains equal quantities of soluble and insoluble fibre that our body needs. The fibres helps with digestive health and reduces cholesterol levels in the body.
It’s a wild fruit from the red ivorywood tree, also referred to as mountain dates. The seed takes up quite a bit from the fruit itself, so you need a bit of patience to go through a bowl. Surely not a fruit you want to have when you are hungry, it may just make you ‘hangry’. Works better as a snack in-between meals. You will find both fresh and dried Nyii, equally good, although my preference is dried Nyii.Nutritional Benefits Include:
- It has similar nutrition benefits to the baobab, and:
- The roots may be soaked in water and drunk as medicine for abdominal pains
- The bark is used to treat liver problems
A drought resistant African delicacy also known as the snot apple. The fruit basically has 5 segments that you can break and chew one at a time. It’s not far from the truth to name them African chewing gum – due to the sweetness, and fact that you chew until the juice runs dry and you spit the pulp.Nutritional Benefits Include:
- High in protein
- Root extract treats earaches
- A very good source for lipids
This tropical tree produces sweet-sour, yellow fruits that are to die for! You will need a hammer to crack it open, and if you want to do it like the natives do, smash it to the ground and reveal the tightly packed seeds. The fruit has quite the tangy taste, and humans have to compete with monkeys, which explains why the fruit is also called the monkey orange.Nutritional Benefits Include:
- The zinc contained in the fruit is needed for proper growth, thyroid function among other uses
- A high concentrate of ascorbic acid ensures you boost your immune system and can fight off diseases
Although not indigenous, masawu makes the list because it has largely naturalised, and found almost everywhere in Zimbabwe. The fruits are eaten raw, and may be fresh or dried, and again, my personal preference are the dried fruit – which really brings out the sour taste. The locals make traditionally distilled alcohol with the fruit (not recommended as no one knows the alcohol percentage). Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.Nutritional Benefits Include:
- The calcium contained in the fruit bone and dental health as well as reduction of obesity
- The fruit contains important elements of phosphorus needed for cognitive function, balancing the body’s pH levels and improved digestion
A shiny black fruit when ripe, also called the smellyberry fingerleaf. The fruit has a pulpy black flesh, with a hard seed inside. Does amazing things to the skin due to the phytonutrients it contains – helping the sun in providing the widely underrated Vitamin D. You need to rinse with mouthwash afterwards to get rid of any residue (but well worth it…trust).Nutritional Benefits Include:
- Vitamin D provides a protective layer to the skin, and plays a part in reducing cancer
- The phytonutrients reduce blood pressure, inflammation and cholesterol
Well, this is Africa and its indigenous fruits. Certainly worth a visit to Zimbabwe to have a taste of all of these delicacies and learn about traditional uses as well as medicinal qualities that each of the trees and fruits have. Suddenly, it is easier to get the children to each their fruit with no hussle.