Vietnamese gac

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Exterior and cross-sectional interior of Vietnamese gac

Gac, [Vietnamese gac, Baby Jackfruit, Spiny Bitter Gourd, Sweet Gourd, or Cochinchin Gourd] Momordica cochinchinensis is a Southeast Asian fruit found throughout the region from Southern China to Northeastern Australia, mostly Vietnam.

Ceremonial use

Because it has a relatively short harvest season (which peaks in December and January), making it less abundant than other foods, gac is typically served at ceremonial or festive occasions in Vietnam, such as Tết (the Vietnamese new year) and weddings. It is most commonly prepared as a dish called xôi gấc, in which the aril and seeds of the fruit are cooked in glutinous rice, imparting both their colour and flavour.

Nutrients and phytochemicals

Typical of orange-coloured plant foods, gac fruit contains carotenoids such as beta-carotene (provitamin A). Vietnamese children fed a rice dish containing beta-carotene from gac had higher blood levels of beta-carotene than those in the control group. Gac aril oil contains high levels of vitamin E. Fatty acids in the aril oil may facilitate absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, including carotenoids.

Due to its high content of beta-carotene and lycopene, gac extracts may be sold as a food supplement in soft capsules or included in a juice blend.

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