Health Benefits of Umbu

The umbu , whose scientific name is Spondidas tuberose, is a native fruit of the savanna region in Brazil. Also known as imbu or umbu cajá, its name derives from the indigenous Tupi-Guarani language, and means tree that gives water to drink.

Historically, natives of the caatinga region and cowboys used umbu to quench their thirst in times of drought.

The umbu tree is known as umbuzeiro, and its fruit is greenish in color, resembling a potato. Its pulp has a slightly acidic flavor and can be found in the Brazilian states of Piauí, Bahia, Paraíba, Pernambuco and in the northern and northeastern regions of Minas Gerais.

Here, you will learn about the properties and benefits of umbu for your health, check it out.


If you want to know how to plant umbu, pay attention to this information we bring about your cultivation.

Its tree is medium in size, reaching up to 7 meters in height. Its trunk is short and its canopy has an umbrella-like shape.

As it is native to a dry region, the tree does not require much in relation to soil, irrigation and temperature.

The plant’s roots are modified, having adapted over time to store water and the nutrients needed to maintain it when it loses its leaves, right after the end of the rainy season.

The flowers produced by the umbuzeiro are white and bloom in groups, having a pleasant scent.

The nectar from flowers is usually absorbed by bees for food and honey production.

The umbu fruit is small and has a rounded shape, with a yellowish-green color. The bark is smooth and has a light coat, with a slightly velvety texture. The taste is sweet and the aroma is pleasant, slightly sour.

The propagation of the plant takes place by sowing, seedling or grafting.


In addition to having several properties and health benefits, it serves to provide water and quench thirst in arid regions, since it stores water in its roots and is a tree resistant to the dry spells common in the caatinga region.


Due to the great importance of the umbu roots , the umbu tree was recognized as the “Sacred Tree of the Sertão” by the Brazilian novelist Euclides da Cunha.

The root of the plant stores water and produces a tuber that, when the drought arrives, is used as food by the natives of the caatinga.

The tree can live for over 100 years and is known as a symbol of endurance.

The fruit is rich in vitamin C, being consumed both fresh and in recipes for sweets, ice cream, jellies and umbu juice, among several other typical dishes.

The composition of the fruit has the following vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin A;
  • Complex B vitamins;
  • Vitamin C;
  • Calcium;
  • Iron;
  • Phosphor;

In addition, it is a good source of protein and has approximately 44 kcal every 100 g, which makes many people believe that the consumption of umbu fattening.

What is not true. The consumption of fruit, especially in natura, can actually help the weight loss process.


The umbu fruit is responsible, by virtue of its composition, for a series of health benefits. Check out the health benefits of umbu:

  • It’s a nutritious fruit

One of the biggest benefits of umbu is the fact that it is very nutritious, since its composition has several very important components for the proper functioning of the body.

  • Helps in the slimming process

Although there are those who believe that the consumption of fattening umbu, in fact the fruit can help in the weight loss process.

Being a very nutritious fruit with lots of fiber, it is very welcome in weight loss diets as it can provide nutrients the body needs and increase the feeling of nutrients satiety.

  • It has antioxidant action

The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) released a study in conjunction with the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Sertão Pernambucana (IF – Sertão), attesting to the existence of antioxidants in the composition of the fruit.

Among these oxidants, we can highlight polyphenols, which have properties responsible for combating the action of free radicals in the body.

These free radicals can cause diseases such as cancer, heart complications and arthritis, in addition to being the main triggers for the aging process of the body’s cells.

  • The fruit is rich in Vitamin C

From studies carried out by professor and researcher at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA), Maria Spínola, it has been proven that it is possible to find in umbu cajá half the level of vitamin C that is found in orange juice.

In addition, the fruit has a higher Vitamin C content than found in other fruits, such as grapes, for example.

This vitamin is very important for the proper functioning of the immune system, helping the body to absorb iron and repairing and maintaining healthy cartilage, bones and teeth.

In addition, it acts in the healing process of cuts and wounds, helping to form the tissue responsible for healing.

What’s more, vitamin C also has antioxidant properties, preventing the action of free radicals, in addition to acting in the production of proteins that are involved in the constitution of the tissues of the skin, tendons and ligaments, as well as blood vessels.

  • High energy value

The fruit can also be considered an excellent source of energy for the body, being ideal for consumption before performing physical activities, helping to maintain energy and increasing the rate of fat burning.

  • Fighting eye diseases

According to folk medicine, the leaves of the umbu tree can be used to help cure eye diseases. However, the ideal is, before carrying out this type of treatment, to consult a doctor to ensure that the condition cannot be worsened.

  • action against worms

It is also indicated, by popular medicine, the use of umbu water to kill, destroy or expel the worms that by chance may lodge in the intestine.

However, as we said in the previous topic, about eye diseases, in this case, before using the fruit water, it is recommended to check with a specialist if its use for the treatment of worms is in fact safe.

  • Helps cure diarrhea

Helping to cure diarrhea with the ingestion of umbu water is also an indication of folk medicine.

However, it is important to remember that diarrhea may represent a symptom of some other illness, so it is also important to consult a doctor to ensure that this home remedy will not end up aggravating the condition rather than helping.

  • It is a great source of B vitamins

The water-soluble B-complex vitamins are not produced by the body in sufficient quantity for its proper functioning, therefore, foods rich in this vitamin complex must be included in the diet, and umbu fruit is one of these foods.

This vitamin complex is of fundamental importance for the body, acting directly on the metabolism of glucose, fatty acids and amino acids.

A low-in-B vitamins diet can result in muscle weakness, memory deficits and chronic fatigue.

  • Helps to release gases

It has a large amount of water in its pulp, in addition to containing agents with antispasmodic properties in its composition, the consumption of fruit can help to eliminate gas, in addition to reducing abdominal pain and helping to eliminate feces.


Umbu juice is a tasty and refreshing alternative for those who want to enjoy all the benefits that the fruit offers for the health of the human body. Here’s how to make umbu juice.

To make the recipe, you will need:

  • 200 grams of umbu pulp;
  • 1 cup of water;
  • Sugar or sweetener to taste;
  • Ice (optional);

To make the juice, follow these steps:

  • Put all ingredients together in a blender;
  • Beat for about 1 or 2 minutes;
  • Serve chilled;

You can also substitute milk for water to make juice with a creamier texture.

This is a juice that is very rich in nutrients, which can provide a lot of energy for the body, making it ideal for consumption before physical activity.


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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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