Gac fruit: A remarkably nutritious, disease-fighting and health-boosting fruit

ຈິນຕະນາພອນ ແກ້ວວິຈິດ
Gac fruit has almost magical powers. It is said to prevent cancer. It is nutrient-dense and rich in a variety of vitamins that help keep our bodies healthy.
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According to older people, Gac fruit is a wild fruit that we can find them in the forest. During the war time people lived in caves and it was difficult for them to find enough food to eat. So, being aware of its health benefits, one food that parents would try to give their children whenever available was steamed Gac fruit with sticky rice.

Gac fruit grows in the north of Laos. It’s shaped like a thorny ball. Young, raw fruits are greenish-yellow in color but they will turn bright orangey red when ripe. The sizes of ripe fruits vary between 200g and one kilogram.

ໝາກເຂົ້າສຸກດີສີແດງ ທີ່ໄດ້ຈາກສວນຫຼັງບ້ານ
A bright orangey red Gac fruit is ripe and ready to be used for cooking
There are many ways to use a Gac fruit, you can:

1.    Mix and steam it with sticky rice
2.    Wrap it in a banana leaf and grill it at low heat
3.    Steam a raw, green Gac fruit and eat it like any other vegetable 
4.    Turn it into a juice, or
5.    Make Gac fruit tea out of it

Steaming rice with Gac fruit
Steaming rice with Gac fruit turns the rice orange in color,  making it softer and a little oily while also filling the air with a delicious aroma.
Gac fruit has the following nutritional and health benefits:

1.    40 times vitamin C of oranges
2.    10 times beta-carotene of carrots
3.    12 times lycopene of tomatoes
4.    Promotes eye health
5.    Has anti-bacterial properties
6.    Good for the skin (fights ageing) 
7.    Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
8.    Helps to destroy cancer cells and can fight prostate, lung, liver and stomach cancers.

Gac fruit is grown both for both domestic consumption as well as a cash crop. These days, consumers are more aware of the benefits of nutritious foods, which has made Gac fruit popular again. Usually, the price of a Gac fruit is 5,000-15,000 kip. Some markets sell it for 15,000 kip/kg. Gac fruit juice sells for 5,000 kip per 250 ml bottle and 10,000 kip per 600 ml bottle.