10 Amazing Native African Fruits to Enjoy & Ways to Eat Them

Amarachi Irobi
Amarachi Irobihttp://@Amara_ii
My name is Amarachi Irobi, a content writer and food lover who loves to explore traditional African cuisine.
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Africa is the world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent, as a result, there are hundreds of native African fruits to enjoy, a lot you’ve probably heard of and tasted, and also so many you probably never knew existed. In this article, we’ll be taking you on a trip to Africa, you’d learn about some of the many different fruits indigenous to Africa, and how they are enjoyed all over the continent.

Fruits are the sweet and fleshy product of a tree or other plant that contains seeds and can be eaten as food. Well, that’s basically what most of us know as fruits, but do you all know that fruits are the fleshy or dry ripened ovary of a flowering plant enclosing the seed or seeds? Oh yes, that’s right!

According to Britannica, Botanically, a fruit is a mature ovary and its associated parts. It usually contains seeds, which have developed from the enclosed ovule after fertilization, although development without fertilization, called parthenocarpy, is known, for example, in bananas. Fertilization induces various changes in a flower: the anthers and stigma wither, the petals drop off, and the sepals may be shed or undergo modifications; the ovary enlarges, and the ovules develop into seeds, each containing an embryo plant. The principal purpose of the fruit is the protection and dissemination of the seed.

So technically, this would mean that apricots, bananas, grapes, bean pods, corn grains, tomatoes,  cucumbers, and (in their shells) acorns and almonds, are all fruits.

Types of Fruits

  • Pome – most of the fruit is formed from the receptacle (under the flower) eg pear, apple
  • Drupe – has fleshy fruit and a single seed with a hard endocarp eg peaches, coconut, and olives
  • Berry – has many seeds eg tomatoes, peppers, and cucumber but not strawberries!
  • Aggregate fruit – develop from one flower with many pistils eg strawberries.
  • Legumes – split along two sides eg beans, peas
  • Capsules – are dry fruit that has several carpels eg orchids
  • Nuts – have one seed and a hard pericarp eg acorns
  • Grains – have the fruit and seed joined closely together eg wheat, rice, barley.
  • Multiple fruits – come from several different flowers joined together eg pineapples.


Why fruits are so important

  • Fruits are part of a well-balanced diet that can help you lose weight or avoid weight gain because they’re low in saturated fat, salt, and sugar. They can also aid in the reduction of inflammation, as well as the reduction of cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Replacing your higher-calorie foods with fruits and vegetables (which tend to be lower in calories) can lead to a lower calorie intake. As a result, the danger of weight gain will be reduced, which is linked to several ailments such as Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure.
  • You won’t find a better nutritional source than fruits and veggies, which are packed with vitamins A, C, and E and magnesium, zinc, phosphorous, and folic acid. For potassium, one of the most important minerals for your health, eat plenty of avocados, sweet potatoes, bananas, prunes, and even tomato paste puree.
  • Fiber is found in fruits, and it is crucial for keeping you full, maintaining proper digestion, and reducing the risk and impact of various diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and several malignancies.


Here Are 15 Native African Fruits to Enjoy & Ways to Eat Them

Among the important African fruits to enjoy are bananas, pineapples, dates, figs, olives, and citrus which you’re probably familiar with. Most of these fruits are enjoyed by the natives and a lot are exported for international consumption. In an article, 4 Economically Important African Fruits And Their Seasons on the African Food Network we talked about 4 economically important fruits in Africa, and the major African exporters of each fruit.

1. African Star Apple

agbalumo african star apple african fruit
Image from Guardian Ng

Botanically called Chrysophyllum albidum, the White star apple is a fruit commonly found throughout tropical Africa. This African fruit is native to West Africa and is particularly prolific in Nigeria, the Republic of Benin, Togo, and Ghana. It occurs seasonally in West Africa between the months of December to April.

This African fruit is known to have a variety of names; African cherry, agbalumo in Yoruba land, Udara in Igbo land, and ehya in Igala land which are all tribes in Nigeria. In Ghana, it is known as Alasa. In the neighboring country, Benin the southerners have variant names for the fruit in their dialects. The names include azongogwe or azonbobwe, Fon or Goun, azonvivo or azonvovwe and azonbebi.

This is certainly one of the African fruits to enjoy as it has gained major popularity and is widely consumed because of its fleshy pulp, very succulent. The color and flavor of the African Star Apple are two of its most recognizable characteristics. Locals think that if the color of the fruit is yellow, the pulp will be sweet, and if the color is a mix of green and yellow, the pulp would be bitter. The orange-colored ones are the most popular.

The fruits are traditionally not plucked off the trees but rather allowed to fall naturally off the tree before gathering. This African fruit is usually eaten raw, as a snack. The African Star Apple is a vibrant orange fruit with 4 to 6 seeds within. The seeds are positioned side by side within the fruit, such that when the fruit is split in half, the seeds create a star shape, hence the fruit’s name.


Nutritional Constituents

In a research carried out by Science Direct the peel was shown to contain 58·9% moisture, 6·1% protein, 12·4% lipid, 4·6% ash, 62·4% carbohydrate and 14·5% crude fiber. The pulp contained 67·5% moisture, 8·8% protein, 15·1% lipid, 68·7% carbohydrate, 4·0% crude fiber, and 3·4% ash.

Analysis of the fruit for minerals showed the peel to contain (in mg/100 g dry matter): calcium, 250; potassium, 1175; sodium, 12; copper, 2·0; magnesium, 90; zinc, 3·8; iron, 200; and phosphorus, 76·8. The pulp contained (in mg/100 g dry matter): calcium, 100; potassium, 1175; sodium, 10; copper 2·0; magnesium, 75; zinc, 3·2; iron, 10; and phosphorus, 75·4.

The peel contained ascorbic acid 239·1 mg/100 g and the pulp, 446·1 mg/100 g. Some toxicants were shown to be present. The peel contained 264 mg/100 g tannins and the pulp, 627 mg/100 g.

The total oxalate content in the peel was 211 mg/100 g and in the pulp, 167 mg/100 g. The hydrocyanic acid content was 5·4 mg/100 g in the peel and 6·8 mg/100 g in the pulp. The phytic acid content was 0·8 mg/100 g in the peel and 1·6 mg/100 g in the pulp.


Health benefits

  • This African fruit is rich in fiber which suppresses appetite and keeps one from overeating which makes it very beneficial for people trying to lose weight. Also, this African fruit is known for its low calories. One portion of this fruit contains 67 calories making it good for those trying to lose weight. Star apple is rich in fiber which can make you get satiated easily.
  • It contains natural antioxidants which help to remove damaging oxidizing agents in the body system and keep the immune system healthy.
  • This African fruit helps in boosting immunity due to the presence of vitamin C and carotene in it. These vitamins help to produce collagen that promotes immune health and moderates sugar levels in diabetic patients.
  • The sweet and sour taste of agbalumo acts as a natural remedy for common issues such as constipation, toothache, sore throat, and indigestion.


5 Ways You Can Enjoy African Star Apple
  • African star apple and egg custard
  • African star apple cocktail
  • African star apple juice
  • African star apple mocktail

2. Oranges

oranges African fruit

Bet you all know about oranges! This counts as one of the African fruits to enjoy because it is by far one of the most consumed fruits in the world. Both sweet and sour oranges, Citrus sinensis and Citrus aurantium, are grown in West Africa and sold mostly for domestic consumption. Sweet oranges are the most widely produced variety in the West African orange group.

Nutritional Constituents

Here are the nutrients in about half of a large orange (100 grams)

  • Calories: 47
  • Water: 87%
  • Protein: 0.9 grams
  • Carbs: 11.8 grams
  • Sugar: 9.4 grams
  • Fiber: 2.4 grams
  • Fat: 0.1 grams

Health Benefits

  • Protects your cells from damage
  • Helps your body make collagen, a protein that heals wounds and gives you smoother skin
  • Makes it easier to absorb iron to fight anemia
  • Boosts your immune system, your body’s defense against germs
  • Slows the advance of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss
  • Helps fight cancer-causing free radicals
  • When you’re feeling anxious, vitamin C can also lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol and your blood pressure.

Orange Recipes

  • Orange & Milk (Braised Pork Carnitas)

  • Orange, olive oil, and dessert wine upside-down cake

  • Lemon sorbet and burnt orange sandwiches

  • South African orange chicken recipe
  • Wets African orange cake dessert recipe
  • Orange salad
  • Orange malva pudding
  • Moroccan orange sheet pan chicken


3. Matoke

Matoke Africa fruit
Image from Winniemalinga Files

Matoke is a variety of green bananas indigenous to Southwest Uganda. It comes from a family of bananas known as the East African Highland bananas. Matoke is used mainly for cooking when they are green and unripe. Cooked and mashed matoke is the national dish of Uganda.

This is also another one of the African fruits to enjoy, Matoke is locally also known as matooke, amatooke in Buganda, ekitookye in southwestern Uganda, ekitooke in western Uganda, ebitooke in northwestern Tanzania, igitoki in Rwanda, and by the cultivar name East African Highland banana.

Nutritional Value

This African fruit is high in vitamin B6, which helps to keep our blood levels in check. Potassium is abundant in it, and it serves as an electrolyte for our bodies, lowering blood pressure and aiding in the management of diabetes. Matoke also contains a significant amount of vitamin C, which aids in the body’s immune system’s strengthening.

Health Benefits

  • It aids in digestion
  • It is good for diabetes
  • Aids in weight loss
  • Effective in the treatment of diarrhea
  • It boosts metabolism
  • It regulates cholesterol level
  • It improves nutrient absorption
  • It promotes kidney health

Matoke Recipes

Matoke when boiled or mashed can be eaten with:

  • Beans
  • Beef stew
  • Coconut milk peanut sauce
  • Matoke Curry
  • Peanut sauce


4. African Mango

African mango African fruit
Image from Gepaghana

African mango (Irvingia gabonensis) is a tree native to tropical West African forests. It’s also known as bush mango, wild mango, and dika nut. The fruit has greenish-yellow skin, a fibrous pulp, and a large, hard seed and should not be confused for the common mango.

The pulp and seed of this African fruit are used to make traditional soups, sauces, juice, wine, jam, jelly, and flavoring in Nigerian and Cameroonian cuisine.

Nutritional Value

Just 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of African mango fruit — both the peel and the pulp — contain the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 86
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0.4 grams
  • Carbs: 18 grams
  • Vitamin C: 62% of the Daily Value (DV)

Health Benefits

  • High in Antioxidants
  • May Boost Immunity
  • May Support Heart Health
  • May Improve Digestive Health
  • May Support Eye Health
  • May Improve Hair and Skin Health.

Mango Recipes

  • African Mango Salad

  • East African mango and cucumber salad
  • Mango stew
  • African mango kernel sauce
  • African mango salsa

5.  African Peach

African peach African fruits
Image from Trade Wind Fruits

Nauclea latifolia, often known as African Peach, is a deciduous flowering plant with an open canopy that grows up to 9 meters tall. It has short, thick, and drooping branches. The bark is dark gray in color, fibrous in texture, and cracked. The leaves are a gleaming green, oval shape with a rounded base and pointy tip. The white-yellow flowers are arranged in a single circular head.

This African fruit can be cooked and consumed as a vegetable. The fruit is a compound fruit, red or pinkish, and round consisting of very small seeds. Its pulp is deep red, watery, and has a sweet flavor.

Nutritional Value

One medium-sized peach (5.4 ounces or 150 grams) provides approximately:

  • Calories: 58
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: less than 1 gram
  • Carbs: 14 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Vitamin C: 17% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin A: 10% of the DV
  • Potassium: 8% of the DV
  • Niacin: 6% of the DV
  • Vitamin E:n5% of the DV
  • Vitamin K: 5% of the DV
  • Copper: 5% of the DV
  • Manganese: 5% of the DV
  • This African fruit also offers smaller amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and some B vitamins.

Health Benefits

  • It is rich in antioxidants
  • It is thought to aid digestion
  • It may protect the skin
  • It improves the health of the heart by lowering risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • It may reduce allergic symptoms
  • It is thought to prevent certain types of cancers
  • It also boosts immunity

African Peach Recipes

  • African peach and chicken tagine
  • Peach cobbler
  • Pickled African  peaches
  • South African peach and amaretto tiramisu


6. Dates

African Dates African fruit
Image from Unsplash

Dates can also be described as a stone fruit, which can easily be described as a single seed, that is surrounded by an outer layer of fleshy fruit. Dates are fruits of a  flowering plant in the Arecaceae palm family that is grown for its tasty sweet fruit.

Date fruits are the sweet flavor of the dessert and one of the oldest cultivated foods in human civilization. Dates became more popular as people started eating healthier diets and going vegan because they are a natural sweetener that is high in nutrients.

In an article on the African Food Network, we discussed interesting facts about dates that will shock you. Click to read: 13 Interesting Facts About Dates That Will Shock You

Nutritional Value

The following is the nutritional information for one average-sized date:

  • calories: 20
  • total fat: 0.03 grams (g)
  • total carbohydrates: 5.33 g
  • dietary fiber: 0.6 g
  • sugar: 4.5 g
  • protein: 0.17 g
  • vitamin B-6: 0.012 milligrams (mg)
  • iron: 0.07 mg
  • magnesium: 3 mg
  • potassium: 47 mg

Health Benefits

  • They are very nutritious.
  • Dates are rich in fiber
  • They are rich in disease-fighting antioxidants
  • They are  thought to promote brain health
  • They may also promote natural labor
  • They are excellent natural sweeteners

Date Recipes

  • No-bake date squares
  • South African date balls
  • Dates biscuit
  • Date rolls


7. Ackee

Ackee African fruit
Image from Classic Ghana

The ackee, also known as ankye, achee, akee, ackee apple, or ayee is a fruit of the Sapindaceae soapberry family, as are the lychee and the longan. It is native to tropical West Africa. This African fruit has become so popular both for its flavor and its beneficial properties.

Because the seeds of this unripened African fruit are poisonous, only the soft, creamy inner flesh of the ackee is edible. Because of the toxicity of the seeds, only canned, pre-prepared ackee is accessible in the United States, and unless you’re a seasoned ackee expert, it’s highly recommended that you don’t attempt to make raw ackee yourself!

Nutritional Value

  • Fat: 15.2g
  • Protei: 2.9g
  • Water: 76.7g
  • Carbohydrate: 0.8g
  • Fiber: 2.7g
  • Calcium: 35mg
  • Iron: 0.7mg
  • Folates: 41mg
  • Thiamine (Vitamin B1): 0.03mg
  • Niacin: 1.10mg
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 0.07mg
  • Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C): 30mg

Health Benefits

  • It aids in digestion
  • It may lower blood pressure
  • It may improve heart health
  • It boosts protein power
  • It regulates circulation

Ackee Recipes

  • Vegan ackee recipe
  • Ackee and salt fish
  • Pickled ackee
  • Canned ackee stew



8. Watermelon

watermelon African fruit
Image from Unsplash

This is one popular African fruit and I’m pretty sure you are familiar with it. Paris says the true ancestor of the modern watermelon is indigenous to northeastern Africa: citrullus lanatus var. colocynthoides, known as gurum in Sudan and gurma in Egypt.

Watermelon is grown in a variety of temperatures around the world, from tropical to temperate, for its enormous edible fruit, which is a berry with a hard skin and no internal divisions and is botanically known as a pepo. Although seedless cultivars exist, the luscious, juicy flesh is usually deep crimson to pink, with abundant black seeds.

Nutritional Value

Watermelon consists mostly of water (91%) and carbs (7.5%). It provides almost no protein or fat and is very low in calories.

The nutrients in 2/3 cup (100 grams) of raw watermelon are:

  • Calories: 30
  • Water: 91%
  • Protein: 0.6 grams
  • Carbs: 7.6 grams
  • Sugar: 6.2 grams
  • Fiber: 0.4 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams

Health Benefits

  • It helps lower blood pressure
  • It reduces insulin resistance
  • It reduces muscle soreness after exercise
  • It keeps the body hydrated
  • It improves heart health
  • It contains compounds that may help prevent cancer
  • It may help prevent macular degeneration
  • It may lower inflammation and oxidative stress

Watermelon Recipes

  • African watermelon salad
  • North African preserved watermelon chutney
  • South African spicy melon salad
  • Waterlemon Lemonade
  • Watermelon salad with suya spice


9. African Medlar

African medlar African fruit
Image from Mobile Orchards

Vangueria infausta, the medlar or African medlar, is a species of plant in the family Rubiaceae, which is native to the southern and eastern Afrotropics. This African fruit has a pleasant apple-like flavor.

When completely bletted, this African fruit is very squishy and very sweet. Its taste is similar to an over-ripe date, complex and sugary. Some say it has a flavor like toffee apples or apple butter, with a hint of acidity balancing out the sweetness.

Nutritional Value

  • Calories: 43
  • Sodium: 4 mg
  • Total Fat: 0 g
  • Potassium: 263 mg
  • Total Carbs: 9 g
  • Cholesterol: 0g
  • Dietary Fiber: 2 g
  • Sugars: 9 g
  • Trans: 0 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Vitamin A: 0%
  • Vitamin C: 4%
  • Iron

Health Benefits

  • It helps in the formation of hemoglobin
  • It helps in muscle function
  • It improves brain health
  • It helps prevent Restless leg syndrome
  • It regulates body temperature

African Medlar Recipe

  • Medlar cheese
  • Medlar tarts


10. Horned Melon (Kiwano)

Kiwano horned melon African fruit
Image from Enzed Exotics

Cucumis metuliferus, commonly called the African horned cucumber, horned melon, spiked melon, jelly melon, kiwano, or cuke-a-saurus is an annual vine in the cucumber and melon family, Cucurbitaceae. Its fruit has horn-like spines, hence the name “horned melon”.

If you’re going to consume the rind of this African fruit, make sure the spikes are removed first. This African fruit has a mellow, mildly sweet flavor. It has a flavor that is comparable to that of its near relative, the cucumber. You might be able to discern a trace of banana flavor when it’s really ripe.

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Nutritional Value

A single-horned melon (209 grams) provides the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 92
  • Carbs: 16 grams
  • Protein: 3.7 grams
  • Fat: 2.6 grams
  • Vitamin C: 18% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Vitamin A: 6% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 7% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 21% of the RDI
  • Iron: 13% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 8% of the RDI
  • Zinc: 7% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 5% of the RDI
  • Calcium: 3% of the RDI

Health Benefits

  • It provides several potent antioxidants
  • It promotes the production of healthy red blood cells
  • It helps regulate blood sugar level
  • It supports proper hydration
  • It is also thought to improve mood.

Horned Melon Recipes

  • Horned melon with beef
  • Kiwano (horned melon), banana, and pineapple sorbet
  • kiwano cocktail
  • kiwano mocktail
  • kiwano salsa
  • kiwano on toast
  • kiwano dessert
  • kiwano infused water
  • kiwano smoothies
  • kiwano guacamole
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Amarachi Irobi
Amarachi Irobihttp://@Amara_ii
My name is Amarachi Irobi, a content writer and food lover who loves to explore traditional African cuisine.

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