Good evening, dear friends 😀
Starfruit, also known as Carambola, is such a common tropical fruit here and a favourite friut for many in this part of the world that I was really shocked to find out from today’s newspapers that eating starfruits can be lethal to people with any kidney dysfunctions. 😯
It seemed that some Malaysians had gone on holiday to China but a few of them landed up comatose in hospital there soon after consuming starfruit. At first, I thought it could be due to some pesticide that was sprayed onto the starfruit in China but doctors said in the newspapers that starfruit can actually cause life threatening effects to some kidney patients.
Typical symptoms occur within one to five hours and include persistent hiccups, nausea, vomiting, agitation, insomnia, mental confusion and convulsions. Death sometimes results. A study conducted at the University of Sao Paulo found that hiccups were experienced in 30 of 32 cases, and vomiting in about two-thirds. Even though mental confusion and convulsions were less common, these symptoms are more likely to be associated with death.
Star fruit intoxication only occurred if some degree of kidney failure already existed. For most of those affected, kidney decline was extensive enough that they were being treated by blood dialysis, although in four cases kidney problems had not reached that severity. There is no evidence of any problem for people with normal kidney function.
The tangy tartness in star fruit comes from high levels of oxalic acid (or oxalate). Weakened kidneys can be damaged if high levels of oxalate accumulate in the organ. But it is likely that another toxin in star fruit is also problematic since common foods such as spinach contain even greater levels of oxalic acid and do not seem to be associated with this severe problem.
The Brazilian researchers think that star fruit contains a substance toxic to nerves (a neurotoxin). People with healthy kidneys probably clear this toxin from the blood quickly and experience no problem. Without efficient kidney function, the combined effect of oxalate and a neurotoxin may deliver a double whammy.
As little as one half of a fruit and less than eight ounces of star fruit juice has caused serious symptoms. One person died from eating just one fruit.
Current medical treatment for star fruit intoxication is prompt kidney dialysis. Anyone who experiences hiccups, vomiting or other unusual symptoms after eating star fruit should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
On the positive side, star fruit lovers with normal kidneys should be able to continue enjoying the delectable treat without concern. I especially love sipping a tall glass of ice-cold starfruit and lemon juice on a hot, sunny day but with this latest knowledge, I better be careful who I serve it to. 😉