Ackee. Useful and yet Toxic.


Ackee Fruit in Barbados, December ~ 2015

While in Barbados, I found this fruit at a local market stand. To me, it looked so rare and exotic. However, it is very common in the islands.

For those who have never seen or heard of the ackee fruit though, here is some basic info from Wikipedia:


“Although native to West Africa, the use of ackee in food is especially prominent in Jamaican cuisine. Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica, and ackee and saltfish is the national dishAckee and codfish is ranked number two in the world by National Geographic survey of national dishes. Recently, ackee wine has been introduced in Jamaica and though it has resulted in a majority of curious and adventurous Jamaicans gravitating towards the newly introduced product it still has not appealed to others.[7][8]

Ackee was introduced to Jamaica and later to HaitiCubaBarbados and others. It was later introduced to Florida in the United States.

Ackee pods should be allowed to ripen on the tree before picking. Prior to cooking, the ackee arils are cleaned and washed. The arils are then boiled for approximately 5 minutes and the water discarded. The dried seeds, fruit, bark, and leaves are used medicinally.[9]


“The unripened or inedible portions of the fruit contain the toxins hypoglycin A and hypoglycin B. Hypoglycin A is found in both the seeds and the arils, while hypoglycin B is found only in the seeds.[4] Hypoglycin is converted in the body to methylene cyclopropyl acetic acid (MCPA). Hypoglycin and MCPA are both toxic. MCPA inhibits several enzymes involved in the breakdown of acyl CoA compounds. Hypoglycin binds irreversibly to coenzyme Acarnitine and carnitine acyltransferases I and II[10] reducing their bioavailability and consequently inhibiting beta oxidation of fatty acids. Beta oxidation normally provides the body with ATPNADH, and acetyl CoA which is used to supplement the energy produced by glycolysis. Glucose stores are consequently depleted leading to hypoglycemia.[11] Clinically, this condition is called Jamaican vomiting sickness. These effects occur only when the unripe fruit is consumed.[12]


For the Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Rare.

8 thoughts on “Ackee. Useful and yet Toxic.

  1. As a native Jamaican, Ackee and Saltfish was a popular Sunday morning breakfast in my family. I’ve not had it much since I’ve moved to the UK. This post brought back so many memories of home back to the fore. Thank you. One love 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the comment:) Yes, such an interesting looking fruit indeed. And who would know that one fruit could be so good and bad at once?


    1. I was curious about it. It looked so interesting! But I certainly didn’t want to try it knowing I could get ill if I ate the wrong part. The street vendor was very professional to warn us though, which was much appreciated by my group of course.

      Oh, I had so much fun! What a beautiful country and everyone was so nice. I admit I was afraid to wander off the resort at first, but I am so glad I did. Not that I’ve every head anything bad about Barbados, but from my time deployed to wars, it was always stay here within your gates until you are supposed to go somewhere on a mission. My boyfriend had to remind me, I was on vacation and not a war, lol. (I guess I have a bit of post-war fear?) So we wandered out and took tours, took a snorkel cruise and spoke to people in the city. It was such a wonderful time and I wanted to see so much more. So yes, I will come back again I hope! And, I won’t pack my timidness of wandering around this time. 🙂


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