Star Fruit (Carambola)

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 6 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Poop Friendly:Whether a food has qualities that help baby poop. Yes
Common Allergen: No
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2 star fruits, one yellow and one green, one cut open before being prepared for babies starting solids

When can babies eat star fruit?

Star fruit (carambola) may be introduced in moderation as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. If your child has kidney disease, you may want to avoid star fruit as studies have found that consuming large quantities can be toxic for adults with conditions that impact the kidney.1 2 3

Background and origins of star fruit

Native to Southeast Asia, star fruit grow on trees in tropical climates around the world, where it goes by different names—balimbing, fuang, kamaranga, kamrakh, or ma fen to name a few. The fruit’s anglicized name hints at a common preparation: when cut crosswise, the slices resemble stars—a delightful shape to stimulate the senses of babies, toddlers, and adults alike. Ripe star fruit is sweet and slightly tart, like a cross between a green grape and an almost-ripe pear. Unripe star fruits are more acidic and a little sour, like a green apple. Star fruit is often harvested shortly after it ripens when its green skin has started to fade to golden yellow or sunny orange, depending on the variety—some of which are sweeter than others. The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked in savory or sweet preparations, from fresh chutneys and preserved pickles, to fish soups and vegetable stews, to iced drinks or simple salads of sliced star fruit dusted with salt and spice.

Amelia, 7 months, tastes star fruit for the first time.
Kalani, 8 months, eats star fruit for the first time.
Amelia, 15 months, tastes star fruit for the first time.

Is star fruit healthy for babies?

Yes—when served in moderation. Star fruit offers plenty of fiber for gut health, plus it is relatively low in natural sugar. It also contains lots of vitamin C to help baby’s body absorb iron, an important nutrient that is often low in a child’s diet, from plant-based foods.4 5

Note that star fruit can contain a large amount of oxalic acid, a compound found in plants that can bind to minerals in the body. For most people, oxalates are not an issue, and in fact, the body naturally produces its own oxalates.6 However, some studies show that the presence of unusually high oxalate levels and other toxic compounds within star fruit can be toxic for adults when consumed in excess, particularly in individuals with existing kidney conditions.7 If your child has a condition that impacts the kidney, or if you have any concerns or questions on this matter, talk to your child’s health care provider for guidance.

Concerned about the oxalates? Sweet star fruit contains significantly less oxalates and is typically larger, while sour star fruit contains more oxalate and is smaller in size.8 9

★Tip: Like grapefruit, star fruit can interact with certain medications. If your child is taking medications, talk to your child’s health care provider before introducing star fruit.10 11

Is star fruit a common choking hazard for babies?

No, but the seeds can be. While the entire fruit is edible (including the waxy skin), remove the seeds before serving. As always, make sure to create a safe eating environment, stay within an arm’s reach of your baby during meals, and check out our age-appropriate serving suggestions.

For more information, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with common choking hazards.

Is star fruit a common allergen?

No. Star fruit is not a common allergen, though, in theory, one can be allergic to any food.

Although not commonly reported, some people may experience Oral Allergy Syndrome (also called pollen food allergy syndrome) when eating star fruit.12 Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching in the mouth and is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction.

As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity for the first few times. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.

How do you cut star fruit for babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 12 months old: Serve star-shaped pieces by cutting the fruit crosswise and remove the skin and seeds after cutting. Slices can be cut rather thick to start for the youngest eaters. If your baby is biting off large pieces of the fruit and is struggling to manage these pieces, slice it more thinly. Because raw star fruit is firm, it can be difficult for babies to consume. Alternatively, cook star fruit until soft then serve mashed or as thick star sections for your baby to self-feed. Cold and/or frozen star fruit slices make excellent teethers!

12 to 18 months old: Offer thin slices of cooked or raw star fruit with the seeds removed (skin can be left on or off) for your baby to practice biting and tearing. While you can also dice the fruit, doing so doesn’t necessarily reduce any choking risk. When in doubt, slice thinly.

18 to 24 months old: Continue to offer thin slices of cooked or raw starfruit and explore increasing the thickness of the slices as your toddler becomes adept at biting, tearing, and chewing.

Read more about when a baby can start eating solids on our Readiness to Start Solid Food FAQ page.

If you’d like to remove the skin (which is edible but challenging to chew), cut star fruit crosswise into stars first, then peel away the skin from each slice.

Recipe: Sweet and Sour Stars

slices of star fruit on a white background next to two lime wedges and dusted with a red spice

Yield: 2 child-sized servings
Cooking Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe star fruit
  • 1 lime wedge
  • 1 pinch cinnamon

Directions

  1. Wash and dry the star fruit.
  2. Cut crosswise into age-appropriate sizes.
  3. If you like, peel the skin from each slice. The skin is edible, but it can be challenging for young eaters to chew and swallow.
  4. Squeeze the juice of the lime wedge onto the stars, then sprinkle with cinnamon.
  5. Serve: Lay the fruit on your baby’s plate and let your child self-feed by trying to pick up the food, or pass a piece in the air for your baby to grab. For toddlers with advanced eating skills, serve a large lime wedge or spice on the side and let kids season the fruit on their own—an activity that is just as much a learning opportunity as an enticing invitation to eat.

To Store: Cut star fruit keeps in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 1 day.

Flavor Pairings

The bright, refreshing taste of star fruit pairs well with sweet and savory flavors alike. Try serving star fruit alongside fellow tropical fruits like dragon fruit, mango, kiwi, papaya, or pineapple. Use star fruit to balance the richness of hearty proteins like beef, lamb, and pork, or to offset the heat of dishes with fiery flavor from cayenne, jalapeno, or Sichuan pepper. Or try pairing it with creamy foods like coconut, goat cheese, mascarpone cheese, or ricotta cheese. Star fruit also tastes great on its own with a sprinkle of your favorite citrus or spice!

Reviewed by

J. Truppi, MSN, CNS

V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP

K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT

S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)

R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist

  1. Neto, M.M., Silva, G.E., Costa, R.S., Vieira Neto, O.M., Garcia-Cairasco, N., et al. (2009). Star fruit: simultaneous neurotoxic and nephrotoxic effects in people with previously normal renal function. NDT plus, 2(6), 485–488. DOI:10.1093/ndtplus/sfp108. Retrieved December 11, 2020
  2. Muthu, N., Lee, S. Y., Phua, K. K., & Bhore, S. J. (2016). Nutritional, Medicinal and Toxicological Attributes of Star-Fruits (Averrhoa carambola L.): A Review. Bioinformation, 12(12), 420–424. DOI:10.6026/97320630012420. Retrieved December 11, 2020
  3. Yasawardene, P., Jayarajah, U., De Zoysa, I., Seneviratne, S. L. (2020). Mechanisms of star fruit (Averrhoa carambola) toxicity: A mini-review. Toxicon : official journal of the International Society on Toxinology, 187, 198–202. DOI:10.1016/j.toxicon.2020.09.010. Retrieved December 19, 2020
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. (2020). Vitamin C: Fact Sheet for Professionals. Retrieved December 11, 2020
  5. Beard J. L. (2008). Why iron deficiency is important in infant development. The Journal of nutrition, 138(12), 2534–2536. DOI:10.1093/jn/138.12.2534. Retrieved December 22, 2020
  6. Mitchell, T., Kumar, P., Reddy, T., Wood, K. D., Knight, J., Assimos, D. G., Holmes, R. P. (2019). Dietary oxalate and kidney stone formation. American journal of physiology. Renal physiology, 316(3), F409–F413. DOI:10.1152/ajprenal.00373.2018. Retrieved December 19, 2020
  7. Muthu, N., Lee, S.Y., Phua, K.K., Bhore, S. J. (2016). Nutritional, Medicinal and Toxicological Attributes of Star-Fruits (Averrhoa carambola L.): A Review. Bioinformation, 12(12), 420–424. DOI:10.6026/97320630012420. Retrieved December 19, 2020
  8. Yasawardene, P., Jayarajah, U., De Zoysa, I., Seneviratne, S. L. (2020). Mechanisms of star fruit (Averrhoa carambola) toxicity: A mini-review. Toxicon : official journal of the International Society on Toxinology, 187, 198–202. DOI:10.1016/j.toxicon.2020.09.010 Retrieved December 19, 2020
  9. Morton, J., Carambola. Hort Purdue. Retrieved January 20, 2021
  10. Zhang, J.W., Liu, Y., Cheng, J., Li, W., Ma, H., et al. (2007). Inhibition of human liver cytochrome P450 by star fruit juice. Journal of pharmacy & pharmaceutical sciences: a publication of the Canadian Society for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Canadian Society for Pharmaceutical Sciences, 10(4), 496–503. DOI:10.18433/j30593. Retrieved December 11, 2020
  11. Hidaka, M., Fujita, K., Ogikubo, T., Yamasaki, K., Iwakiri, T., (2004). Potent inhibition by star fruit of human cytochrome P450 3A (CYP3A) activity. Drug metabolism and disposition: the biological fate of chemicals, 32(6), 581–583. DOI:10.1124/dmd.32.6.581. Retrieved December 11, 2020
  12. Numata, T., Ito, T., Egusa, C., Kobayashi, Y., Maeda, T., Tsuboi, R. (2015). A case of oral allergy syndrome due to star fruit sensitized from atopic hands. Allergology International, 64(4), 393–395. DOI:10.1016/j.alit.2015.06.011. Retrieved December 11, 2020