Gac (Momordica cochinchinensis)

Gac (Momordica cochinchinensis) on a banana leaf
Copyright: wasanajai

When you explore Vietnamese, Thai, Cambodian and Laotian cuisine you are more than likely to see recipes featuring Gac. This is a fruit, a type of melon which is famous for its orange-red colour.

Gac is used primarily in Vietnam as a colour in the cooking of a famous red glutinous rice, which is extremely popular in that country. It is  similar to Sekihan which is rice boiled with with red beans in Japan.

The fruit has the scientific name Momordica cochinchinensis. Spreng).


Gac is rich in lycopene, beta-carotene, lutein and phenolic bioactives which makes it a very valuable nutritious fruit. The aril which is the part covering the seeds inside the fruit is the strongest coloured part and contains the highest amounts of both lycopene and beta-carotene. The peel is rich in lutein.

The main phenolic acids are hydroxybenzoic acids and hydroxycinnamic acids. The flavonoid, myricetin is found in all parts of the fruit. The pulp is very rich in apigenin.

Industrially, Gac could be a reliable source of lycopene for consumer healthcare supplements. It may also rival curcumin because of its strong medicinal heritage. 

Market Distribution

Gac is not widely available outside South-East Asia although vines have succeeded in cultivation in frost-free areas. It can be grown for example in northern Europe under glass.


Lycopene is notorious for oxidising during extraction however its stability is improved by carriage in an oil. There is a strong focus on preserving the cis-isomer of lycopene (Phan-Thi & Wache, 2014).


Aoki, H., Kieu, N. T. M., Kuze, N., Tomisaka, K., & Chuyen, N. V. (2002). Carotenoid pigments in GAC fruit (Momordica cochinchinensis SPRENG). Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry66(11), pp. 2479-2482. (Article)

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