Persimmon: nutrition facts and health benefits

Persimmon

This tree is native in eastern China; the kaki is the fruit of the persimmon tree. It has the size of a tomato, its skin is orange, and its flesh has a flavor which reminds that of the apricot, the pear, and the fresh almond. The fruit is very popular in Japan, where it is also called kaki. There are two varieties ob kaki: one, which is non-astringent, tastes crispy. The other is rich in tannin and is savored when its flesh is very ripe.

The kaki is the fruit of the persimmon tree which is part of the hardwood family like ebony. It is the only tree in this family to produce an edible fruit. The persimmon tree is also grown in China, Israel, Korea,the United States, in southern Europe, Israel and Spain (Valencia region), where it has a protected designation of origin.. There are hundreds of different varieties of persimmon but they can be classified into two broad categories being the Asian persimmon and the American persimmon, a younger species. Their fruits are available in the fall, from September to December. The kaki remains attached to the tree even after the leaves have fallen.

The two most popular Asian varieties of the kaki are the Hachiya and the Fuyu that have the size of a tomato. The Hachiya has a sweet and tender flesh as well as a thin, smooth orange-colored peel. It must be consumed when it is very ripe and very soft otherwise it is not edible. The Fuyu can be consumed when it’s still firm. This fruit contains non-edible brown seeds which have to be removed before consuming.

Persimmon health effects

The kaki is a fruit which contains many bioactive substances and has a strong antioxidant potential. It contains polyphenols, carotenoids (orange pigment), vitamin C, tannins, all substances favoring a health profile. In addition to having powerful antixoydants, carotenoids are precursors of vitamin A, a vitamin essential to vision, immune system and skin health.

In a study specifically on khaki consumption and cholesterol levels, the authors showed that persimmon consumption had a positive impact on total blood cholesterol levels and LDL (bad cholesterol)3.

Use of persimmon

When purchased, you should choose an intact fruit and avoid the yellow or greenish persimmons. Those two colors are signs that they are not ripe. The fruit can be eaten raw with a spoon. The fuyu can be chewed like an apple. It can also be pulped (with a little lemon juice) and served on ice cream, cake or pancake. Otherwise, it can also decorate fruit salads, rice, seafood or poultry. It can accompany cheese and can also aromatize yogurt or puddings. Finally, the persimmon can be cooked to make a jam, dehydrated or canned.

If the purchased kaki is not ripe, let it ripen at room temperature. You can also put it in a paper bag to speed up this process. If you add fruits that emit ethylene like bananas or apples, it can even more quickly ripen. The ripe kaki can be stored in the fridge for a few days. Otherwise, it can be frozen in whole form or pulped with lemon juice to avoid discoloration.

 

Composition and characteristics (excluding macronutrients, vitamins and minerals)

• The kaki contains many active components, such as amino acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, tannins, catechins and vitamin A.

• Among the carotenoids, present in the kaki seed, β-carotene, lycopene, β-cryptoxanthin monomyristique acid ester, di-myristic acid ester of zeaxanthin, and oleanolic acid were identified.

• The fruit of the persimmon tree also contains many anthocyanins, one of its features is the concentration in these molecules is quite high especially when the fruit is young, characteristic of the astringency of the fruit.

• A study evaluated the concentration of a number of nutrients in persimmon fruit juice from different regions of Korea. The results indicate that the levels of the constituents are significantly different depending on the samples. However, tartaric acid, glucose, gallic acid, epicatechin gallate, and the parapartic acid remain the dominant constituents of each chemical group.

Delicious and good for health

In Asia, the fruit of medicinal properties has been lent for a long time. For example, it is reputed to regulate Qi in China, understand the vital force, the flow of energy.

As for energy, no doubt, kaki is a glucose concentrate – it contains up to 20% of it and thus gives a lot of energy. It is also richer than any other vitamin A fruit, packed with vitamin C, beta-carotene and lycopene, excellent antioxidants. The Global Cancer Research Fund also recommends the use of lycopene to control many cancers.

Also, the University of Jerusalem published a study demonstrating that the high content of this fruit in fibers, minerals and polyphenols allowed to fight against atherosclerosis, a congestion of the arteries that leads to cardiovascular diseases and heart attacks.

Another study by researchers at Toyama University in Japan and published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has shown that a diet rich in persimmon fruit improves lipid metabolism, that is, how the body assimilates fats, by testing the fruit on laboratory rats. In addition, it turns out to be beneficial against fatty diabetes.

 

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