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Carambola, also known as starfruit, is the fruit of Averrhoa carambola, a species of tree native to the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. The fruit is a popular food throughout Southeast Asia, the South Pacific and parts of East Asia. The tree is also cultivated throughout non-indigenous tropical areas, such as in Costa Rica, Peru, Colombia, Jamaica, Trinidad, Ecuador, Guyana, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and Brazil, and, in the United States, in south Florida and Hawaii.[1]

The fruit has ridges running down its sides (usually five); in cross-section, it resembles a star, hence its name. The number of ridges can vary.[2]





Origins and distribution

The carambola has been cultivated in parts of Asia for hundreds of years. Scientists believe that it may have originated in Sri Lanka or Moluccas, Indonesia, India.

Due to concerns over pests and pathogens, however, whole starfruits cannot yet be imported to the US from Malaysia under current Food and Drug Administration regulations. In the United States, starfruits are grown in tropical and semitropical areas, including Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii.[3][4][5]





The entire fruit is edible, including the slightly waxy skin, unlike other tropical fruits. The flesh is crunchy, firm, and extremely juicy, having a texture similar in consistency to that of grapes.

Carambolas are best consumed when ripe, when they are yellow with a light shade of green. They will also have brown ridges at the five edges and feel firm. Overripe starfruit will be yellow with brown spots and can become soggier in consistency.

Ripe carambolas are sweet without being overwhelming, and have a tart, sour undertone. The taste is difficult to compare, but it has been likened to a mix of apple, pear, and citrus family fruits all at once. Unripe starfruits are firmer and sour, and taste like green apples.


Carambola, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 128 kJ (31 kcal)
Carbohydrates 6.73 g
– Sugars 3.98 g
– Dietary fiber 2.8 g
Fat .33 g
Protein 1.04 g
Pantothenic acid (B5) .39 mg (8%)
Folate (vit. B9) 12 μg (3%)
Vitamin C 34.4 mg (41%)
Phosphorus 12 mg (2%)
Potassium 133 mg (3%)
Zinc .12 mg (1%)
Percentages are relative to
US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database


Carambola is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C and low in sugar, sodium, and acid. It is also a potent source of both primary and secondary polyphenolic antioxidants.[6] A. carambola has both antioxidant and antimicrobial activities: Scavenging of NO by the fruit extract is dependent on concentration and stage of ripening. Extracts showed antimicrobial activity against E. coli, Klebsiella sp., Staphylococcus aureus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.[7][8]


Carambola contains oxalic acid, which can be harmful to individuals suffering from kidney failure, kidney stones, or those under kidney dialysis treatment. Consumption by those with kidney failure can produce hiccups, vomiting, nausea, and mental confusion. Fatal outcomes have been documented in some patients.[9][10][11][12][13][14]

Drug interactions

Like the grapefruit, carambola is considered to be a potent inhibitor of seven cytochrome P450 isoforms.[15][16] These enzymes are significant in the first-pass elimination of many medicines, and, thus, the consumption of carambola or its juice in combination with certain medications can significantly increase their effective dosage within the body. Research into grapefruit juice has identified a number of common medications affected, including statins, which are commonly used to treat cardiovascular illness, and benzodiazepines (a tranquilizer family including diazepam).[17]


The carambola is a tropical and subtropical fruit. It can be grown at up to 4,000 feet (1,200 m) in elevation. It prefers full sun exposure, but requires enough humidity and a total of 70 inches or more of rainfall a year. It does not have a soil type preference, but it requires good drainage.

Carambola trees are planted at least 20 feet (6.1 m) from each other and typically are fertilized three times a year. The tree grows rapidly and typically produces fruit at four or five years of age. The large amount of rain during spring actually reduces the amount of fruit, but, in ideal conditions, carambola can produce from 200 to 400 pounds (91 to 180 kg) of fruit a year. The carambola tree flowers throughout the year, with main fruiting seasons from April to June and October to December in Malaysia,[18] for example, but fruiting also occurs at other times in some other locales, such as South Florida.

Major pests are fruit flies, ants, and birds.[18] Crops are also susceptible to frosts, especially in the United States and in the Philippines.

Malaysia is a global leader in starfruit production by volume and ships the product widely to Asia and Europe.[18]


The carambola is known under different names in different countries. It should not be confused with the closely related bilimbi, with which it shares some common names.

Written on June 18th, 2012 , Fruits Tags:

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