Santol – nutrition, proven health benefits and recipes

The scientific name of the santol include Melia koetjape Burm. f. ,Trichilia nervosa Vahl, Sandoricum nervosum, Sandoricum indicum Cav., Sandoricum ternatum Blanco , Sandoricum koetjape Merr.  It is also known as Santor, Katul, Kechapi, Red santol, Lolly fruit, Wild mangosteen, Sour apple, Cotton fruit and Donka.

Other names are

FRENCH: faux mangoustan, Sandorique.
GERMAN: Sandoribaum.
MALAY: Sentul.
TAMIL: Sayai, Sevai.

It is cultivated in many regions around the world including  Malaysia, Cambodia, Southern Laos, Indonesia, India, Andaman Islands, Philippines, Indonesia, Mauritius, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Honduras, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and a few states in the US (namely Florida and Hawaii).

Santol is a tree growing up to 20 meters high, with softly hairy young branches and leaves. Fruits are rounded and somewhat flattened, 4 to 6 centimeters, yellowish-orange when ripe with a thick pericarp. Seeds are large, surrounded by a translucent or pale, sweet tasting edible pulp. Its texture is spongy and the flesh never separates from the seed entirely. If the fruit is not fully ripened, expect a bitter taste. The rind is quite sour, which can be dried, then grind, or pickle it for use as a souring agent.

Note: Different varieties of santol have different ratios of sour to sweet.

How to check for ripeness of santol?

Santols grow in the size of green cricket balls on the tree before turning yellow, orange, and finally a rusty, yellowish orange color when fully ripe. Peachy fuzz can be found on the surface of some fruits. Ripe fruits fall naturally from the tree.

Brown spots, marks and streaks are common on santols, and they do not necessarily indicate poor quality. Pale, whitish underripe fruits should be avoided, as they do not sweeten. Overripe fruits marked by soft, brownish skin taste fermented and should also be avoided.

Santol nutritional value and facts

Santol is high in carbohydrates, fair in iron, but low in calcium.
It is fair source of vitamin B.


A 100 gm of yellow santol has about 88 calories. It contains

87 g Moisture

0.118 g Protein

0.10 g Fat

0.1 g Fiber:

0.31 g Ash

4.3 mg Calcium

17.4 mg Phosphorous

42 mg Iron

0.003 mg Carotene .

0.045 mg Thiamin

0.741 mg Niacin

86 mg Ascorbic Acid

A 100 gm of red santol contains

83.07-85.5% Moisture

0.89% Protein

11.43% Carbohydrates

1.43% Fat

2.30% Fiber

0.65-.88% Ash

0.01% Calcium:

0.03% Phosphorous

0.002% Iron

0.037 mg Thiamin

0.016 mg Niacin

0.78 mg Ascorbic Acid

Traditional medicinal benefits and uses of santol

Roots is aromatic, carminative, antispasmodic, astringent, stomachic, and tonic. Fruit considered astringent.

Fresh leaves applied to the skin are sudorific.

– Used by the Ifugaos for diarrhea.

– Decoction or infusion of leaves used for baths to reduce fever.

– Also, used for diarrhea and as a tonic after childbirth.

– Bark poultice used for ringworm.

– Bitter roots, bruised with vinegar and water, is a carminative; used for diarrhea and dysentery.

– Pounded barks applied to ringworm.

– Leaves used for skin infections and rashes.

– Roots used as tonic.

– Roots used in Malayan medicine as preventive after childbirth and as a general tonic.

– In Malaysia, aqueous extract of the bark is consumed as a tonic after childbirth.

– In Indonesia, bark decoction used to treat leucorrhea and colic.


Scientific  proven benefits of santol


Study isolated a new ring-A secotriterpene, koetjapic acid, and five known compounds. Two compounds exhibited significant cytotoxic activity against cultured human cancer cells.


Stem extract study yielded 3-oxo-12-oleanen-29-oic acid and katonic acid which showed anti-inflammatory activity equivalent to indomethacin.


Angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels, has become an important target in cancer therapy. Angiogenesis plays an important role in tumor growth and metastasis.

Study isolated koetjapic acid, a seco-A-ring oleanene triterpene. Results suggest the non-cytotoxic compound, KA, may be a potent antiangiogenic agent; its activity.

Breast Cancer

A n-hexane extract showed dose-dependent cytotoxic and apoptotic activities on all breast cancer cell lines. Study provides evidence for the presence of an effective anticancer agent in the stem bark of S. koetjape.

Topical Anti-Inflammatory Effect / Stem Extracts

In a study, anti-inflammatory effect of stem extracts was investigated on topical administration in a TPA-induced mouse ear inflammation model. Fractionation of active fractions isolated 3-oxo-12-oleanen-29-oic acid and katonic acid as the biotic principles responsible for the anti-inflammatory activity. The inhibition effect was almost equivalent to indomethacin.

Human Leukemia HL-60 Cells

Study isolated a new ring A-seco triterpenoid, sentulic acid, along with a known oleanane-type triterpenoid, 3-oxoolean-12-en-27-oic acid. Cytotoxic activity was studied on human promyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cells. Results showed the compound were able to induce cytotoxicity through apoptosis.

How to Open or Cut Santol?

Santol requires lopping around the skin, and then sucking out the white, edible cottony fruit surrounding the three to five seeds. If desired, use a spoon to scoop the savory flesh surrounding the spongy part of the santol. If using the fruit in recipes, cut in half and remove the seeds from each half.

Avoid swallowing the seeds—a 2001 health advisory was issued in the Phillipines after a woman perforated her large intestine by eating too many santol seeds. A few other cases of stomach problems arising from seed consumption have surfaced as well.

Storage tips

Santol continue to ripen once plucked from the tree. Keep santols at room temperature if you wish for the flesh and peel to grow softer. Keep santols at a temperature no lower than 15 degrees Celsius, or, 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Colder conditions will result in chilling injuries, evident by brown, bruised skin and a translucent aril. Santols will keep for three weeks in semi-cold conditions.

Santol Recipe Ideas and Uses:

Santol makes a delicious preserve – peeled, quartered, and cooked in syrup.

Place peeled santol fruits in cold water, and then cut the fruit into quarters and remove the seeds. Submerge the fruit sections for three days, ensuring to change the water at the start of every day. After soaking for these days, blanch the fruit for five minutes and then submerge the santol flesh in cold water. Strain, and then boil the fruits in a half-sugar, half-water concoction for 20 minutes. Remove the pulp, and let the syrupy water sit overnight. The next day, add the fruits back to the sryrup water, boil again for 15 minutes, and transfer the mixture to sterilized glass jars.

Make santol juice.

Add santol into your salad, or smoothies recipes.

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