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Beware the Intoxicating Star Fruit

Posted December 2, 2016, 09:00 AM HST Updated December 2, 2016, 08:22 PM HST

Ripe star fruit. Darde Gamayo photo.

Ripe star fruit. Darde Gamayo photo.

Not just pretty to look at and delicious to eat, star fruit can be great for you or deadly. Yes! Deadly!

Star fruit also known as carambola is an interestingly versatile fruit.

A cross-section of the star fruit resembles a star—thus its name.

The star fruit has distinctive ridges running down its sides (usually five but can sometimes vary).

The entire fruit is edible. The skin is thin, smooth and feels waxy to the touch.

The fruit turns from green to a light yellow, then to dark yellow when ripe.

The flesh is translucent and light yellow to yellow in color.

Each fruit contains 10 to 12 flat, light brown seeds.

The star fruit’s flavor can range from tart to pleasantly sweet, depending on how ripe it is.

But beware that this beautifully symmetrical fruit contains a neurotoxin that healthy people can filter out through their kidneys, but those who suffer from kidney disease are unable to.

Known as “star fruit intoxication,” symptoms include hiccups, vomiting, numbness, insomnia, decreased strength, confusion and muscle convulsions.

Symptoms can appear in as little as 30 minutes after eating it or up to 14 hours later.


Star fruit intoxication can even cause death in rare cases.

If you experience any of these symptoms after consuming star fruit you should seek immediate medical attention.

On the flip side, it has some amazing benefits for those who are able to eat it.

The star fruit is rich in antioxidants, potassium and vitamin C. It is low in sugar, sodium and acid.

It is also has both antioxidant and antimicrobial benefits.

In some Asian countries, it is believed that eating star fruit enhances the male sex drive.

While it is usually just eaten straight off of the tree, it may also be used in cooking, preserves and juiced.

Throughout the world, many different cultures incorporate this fruit into their cooking.

The fruit turns from green to a light yellow, then to dark yellow when ripe. Darde Gamayo photo.

The fruit turns from green to a light yellow, then to dark yellow when ripe. Darde Gamayo photo.

In parts of Asia, they are stewed in cloves and sugar. In China it is cooked with fish and in Australia it is sometimes cooked as a vegetable or pickled. Jamaicans dry the star fruit and use it in various ways. A favorite way to use it here in the islands is in sherbet.

The star fruit tree grows great here in Hawai‘i at elevations from sea level to about 4,000 feet. It is a fast growing tree that can produce fruit in as little as four to five years.

The next time you see a star fruit, keep in mind that like many other things in life that are pretty to look at or sweet to the taste, it can also be the cause of your untimely demise.

Darde Gamayo
Darde Gamayo wen graduate from Honoka'a High & Intermediate in 1986. Her also known as “Tita Nui,” cause her one tita en her is nui. Her is da winna of da 2009 Ms. Aloha Nui Contess. Which is wat wen help her get her da job on da numba 1 rayjo station on dis island, KAPA Rayjo! Her is da weeken mid day DJ. You can catch her on KAPA from 6 p.m. to midnight Mondayz true Fridayz. Her is one blhog writah fo da BigIslandNow.com. Her write bout all kine stuffez, like how da mongoose wen come hea, wat collah da sand on da beach, pineapple in yo food and wat eva kine stuff her tink of. Her get choken udda stuff her like fo do like, write, read, go fishin' and her love to cook too... And wen you look at her you no she like fo eat, too! Her stay livin in Waipi‘o Valley with her honey, Darren, and the rest of their ‘ohana.

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Bill Morris Did not know that.December 02, 2016 08:41pm
Missy Lou I had no idea.December 02, 2016 08:45pm
Lori Patacsil Margie SolisDecember 02, 2016 08:45pm
John Moschel Wow! We love star fruit when we visitDecember 02, 2016 08:50pm
Cathy Fairhurst I got fruit in 2 years, and it's just about ready to pick... Star fruit upsidedown cake is our favorite!December 02, 2016 08:57pm
Tammy Botelho Spencer Wow!December 02, 2016 09:18pm
Tiki Kahananui Aaron..can you believe this?!?December 02, 2016 09:21pm
Romaine Oliveira OMG! Just took some to school for my grandson's class.December 02, 2016 09:29pm
Gary Rambo Never herd of this. Been eating a lot at work latelyDecember 02, 2016 09:45pm
Judy Hashizaki Eegads!!!December 02, 2016 09:52pm
Victoria Hufford Honopua FarmDecember 02, 2016 10:24pm
Sharon Har It is true bc my hubby gets hiccups and it won't stop so had to go to the ER twice that it happened. So no more star fruit for him...December 02, 2016 11:21pm
Keahonuiokala Hillen Bong... wowDecember 03, 2016 07:22am
Jessica Jansen I guess drinking star fruit juice isn't a great idea....The one tree gives us so much fruit though!December 03, 2016 07:53am
Romel Bitancor Chassy GalarioDecember 03, 2016 08:41am
Patty Briscoe Reid Jessica Jansen just add less Liquor ... EnjoyDecember 03, 2016 10:06am
DebbieLynn Bachiller Love eating this!!! :)December 03, 2016 11:14am
Gwen Coxon Love this fruit but didn't know about this.December 03, 2016 12:00pm
Mildred Alvarez I remember eating lots of this in waianae...December 03, 2016 12:56pm
Hazel Zolly Good to know.December 03, 2016 01:23pm
Ruth Rose Calise The old Rag man in his beat up truck selling rags fresh fish and fruit use to give us kids a star fruit every Saturday in kailuaDecember 03, 2016 02:36pm
Joseph Bugado Ono when I was young I eat lot s of itDecember 03, 2016 03:57pm
Kaleionamokuokalani Muneoka Diabetics beware!December 03, 2016 05:52pm

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