Health Benefits Of Snake Fruit

  • 1st Revision: Tan Jit Yih

When someone tells you about a snake, you would never think of a fruit, right? However, one fruit, which is also known as ‘salak’, has brown scale-like skin and looks exactly like a snake.

With its growing popularity, this fruit’s health benefits have been gaining recognition throughout the world. 

Emphasising the importance of natural ingredients, salak is a testament to how they can significantly contribute to our health and overall well-being.

What is snake fruit?

Snake fruit, scientifically known as salacca zalacca, is grown on palm trees within Southeast Asia in places like Java and South Sumatra in Indonesia. The fruit grows on trees in clusters, which is very similar to the way coconuts grow. Snake fruit’s skin is rough with many small spikes, and farmers have to be careful when harvesting these fruits. Once the fruit has been harvested, it undergoes metabolic processes such as respiration. This process releases carbon dioxide and water into the air, which can reduce the quality of the fruit and decrease the shelf-life of the fruit quickly.1

The fruit has a unique flavour which is loved by many. The texture of snake fruit resembles that of an apple, and the fruit has a distinct sweet and sour flavour which some believe tastes like a mixture of banana and pineapple. There are up to 30 different varieties of salak, including salak bali and salak pondoh, which both have slightly different flavours and aromas. The most expensiveyet most loved variety is known as gula pasir. The fruit is the size of a fig, and once it has been peeled it can resemble a large peeled garlic clove. The white pulp of the snake fruit is edible, however the skin and the seeds cannot be eaten.

Although snake fruit is still relatively unknown to many, snake fruit has been gaining a large amount of popularity for its taste and health benefits within the recent years. 

Health benefits of snake fruit

Salak can be eaten alone, or incorporated into smoothies, salads, and many other dishes. Regardless of how it is consumed, it has multiple health benefits, and there are increasing amounts of research looking into the beneficial effect of salak on the body. Just some of the ways salak helps your body are:

  • Improves memory: salak is also known to Indonesians as ‘the fruit of memory’ because of its potassium, pectin, and beta-carotene contents which increase blood flow to the brain. This helps with improving brain cognition and memory2
  • Immunity: The high amount of Vitamin C can help your immune system. Vitamin C can also help with: increasing the amount of iron absorption, protecting against damage caused by free radicals, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones and teeth3
  • Reduce malnutrition: Bioactive compounds are found within the pulp of the snake fruit. These compounds can include: polyphenols, flavonoids, vitamins, and minerals. Many of these can help fight against malnutrition and chronic illness because it helps to replenish limited stores of these compounds4
  • Helps digestion: Traditionally, salak has been used to treat digestive issues due to its high fibre content. Fibre can help to relieve constipation and keeps you fuller for longer which can promote weight loss. Fibre is also known to reduce the risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular disease5
  • Reduces cancer risk: The fruit contains lots of antioxidants. To put this into perspective, snake fruit contains 2.5x more antioxidants than mango. 6 Antioxidants help to reduce the number of free radicals within the body which in turn reduces the risk for cancer cell proliferation4
  • Manages diabetes: New research suggests snake fruit within kombucha tea has the potential to reduce fasting blood glucose levels which may help manage some types of diabetes.7 However, more research is still required to confirm its anti-diabetic properties
  • Improves heart health: The potassium found within salak helps to regulate your heartbeat. This is because with every heartbeat, potassium alters the voltage of nerve cells. Therefore, when potassium levels are too high or too low within the body, your heart will not work as effectively. Thus, when potassium levels are maintained via the diet or supplementation, the heart can beat more efficiently8
  • Energy boost: Snake fruit’s energy content is mostly comprised of carbohydrates, which can help to provide a continual energy boost throughout the day

Despite snake fruit being known to Indonesians for many years, there is still little research on all the health benefits of the fruit. In recent years, there has been an abundance of research looking into how the fruit can benefit the body, and bodies of research shall only increase within the upcoming years. 

Nutritional facts

There are lots of different vitamins and minerals that are included within snake fruits, but how much is really in one serving (100g) of the fruit?

  • Kilocalories (Kcal): 72
  • Fat (g): 0
  • Carbohydrate (g): 18
  • Fibre (g): 2
  • Vitamin C (% of RDA): 26
  • Potassium (% of RDA): 6

Salak also contains smaller amounts of calcium, vitamin A, and iron. Although the nutritional content of salak will vary depending on the variety, theyhave similar amounts of energy and nutrition. 

How to eat snake fruit

When you first eat salak, you may not know which part of the fruit to eat. So how do you eat snake fruit correctly?

  1. Always make sure that the salak you are about to eat is fresh, particularly when consuming in hotter climates. You can usually tell when the fruit has gone bad because of its distinct aroma which will grow stronger. Snake fruit usually lasts at room temperature for a couple of days; however, if it is stored within the refrigerator it can last up to 2 weeks
  2. Using your finger or a knife, break through the rough exterior at the top of the fruit. Then, begin peeling away at the fruit, just as you would with an orange
  3. When all the skin has been removed, remove the brown, inedible seeds which are found within each lobe of the snake fruit
  4. Begin to eat the fruit raw and enjoy its distinct taste! Alternatively, you can use it in whatever snake fruit recipes you wish

Side effects and other concerns

In general, eating snake fruit in moderation is safe. However, as this fruit contains a high amount of fibre, some people may experience digestive issues when they eat too much of the fruit. Symptoms like constipation, bloating, and excessive gas may suggest that too much snake fruit has been consumed. These symptoms can easily be relieved by eating less of the fruit, and drinking more fluids. 

The skin and the seeds of snake fruit are toxic, and it is important to avoidthis part of the fruit. Therefore, the fruit should be peeled prior to eating, and only the white fleshy part of the fruit should be consumed. Sometimes the toxins are removed from the seed during processing, and are used to create other products like kombucha tea and salacca coffee, which have similar health benefits to eating salak. 


Snake fruit is a useful fruit to incorporate into your diet. It has many health benefits and can reduce the risk for a variety of diseases including cancer and diabetes. It also plays a role in keeping the digestive system healthy, improving your heart and brain health, and keeping your immune system strong. There are a variety of ways that snake fruit can be eaten including: within smoothies, salads, or even when drinking salacca coffee. Eating snake fruit is relatively safe, and only precautions should be taken if you are eating too much of the fruit, or if the wrong part of the fruit is eaten. Overall, snake fruit can and should be included within the diet to benefit from its health outcomes. 


  1. Widayanti SM, Hoerudin, Andes I. Characteristics and postharvest life of snake fruit (Salacca edulis Reinw) during storage as influenced by application of activated nanostructured natural zeolites. IOP Conf Ser: Earth Environ Sci [Internet]. 2021 Jul 1 [cited 2023 Mar 20];803(1):012029. Available from: 
  2. Haruenkit R, Poovarodom S, Leontowicz H, Leontowicz M, Sajewicz M, Kowalska T, et al. Comparative study of health properties and nutritional value of durian, mangosteen, and snake fruit: experiments in vitro and in vivo. J Agric Food Chem [Internet]. 2007 Jul 1 [cited 2023 Mar 20];55(14):5842–9. Available from: 
  3. Carr AC, Maggini S. Vitamin c and immune function. Nutrients [Internet]. 2017 Nov 3 [cited 2023 Mar 20];9(11):1211. Available from: 
  4. Mazumdar P, Pratama H, Lau SE, Teo CH, Harikrishna JA. Biology, phytochemical profile and prospects for snake fruit: An antioxidant-rich fruit of South East Asia. Trends in Food Science & Technology [Internet]. 2019 Sep [cited 2023 Mar 20];91:147–58. Available from: 
  5. Devi PB, Vijayabharathi R, Sathyabama S, Malleshi NG, Priyadarisini VB. Health benefits of finger millet (Eleusine coracana L.) polyphenols and dietary fiber: a review. J Food Sci Technol [Internet]. 2014 Jun [cited 2023 Mar 20];51(6):1021–40. Available from: 
  6. Mokhtar SI, Pheen CL, Lee EV, Aziz NAA. Total phenolic contents, antioxidant activities and organic acids composition of three selected fruit extracts at different maturity stages. Journal of Tropical Resources and Sustainable Science (JTRSS) [Internet]. 2014 Oct 8 [cited 2023 Mar 20];2(2):40–6. Available from: 
  7. Zubaidah E, Ifadah RA, Kalsum U, Lyrawati D, Putri WDR, Srianta I, et al. Anti-diabetes activity of Kombucha prepared from different snake fruit cultivars. Nutrition & Food Science [Internet]. 2018 Jan 1 [cited 2023 Mar 20];49(2):333–43. Available from: 
  8. Mushiyakh Y, Dangaria H, Qavi S, Ali N, Pannone J, Tompkins D. Treatment and pathogenesis of acute hyperkalemia. Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives [Internet]. 2011 [cited 2023 Mar 20];1(4). Available from: 
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Kristy Maskell

Master of Science – Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Hull
Bachelor of Science with Honours – Exercise and Health Science, University of Brighton

Kristy is a Dietetics master’s student which has allowed her to develop clinical knowledge of nutrition for a variety of populations. She is passionate about making evidence-based nutrition information accessible and loves to write this for everybody to read. Kristy looks forward to qualifying as a registered dietitian in the near future and having the opportunity to provide the best possible patient-centred care.

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