For the Love of Loquats: A Fruit You May Have to Grow but Well Worth it5 months ago | Nutrition
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
I’m an avid gardener and always interested in adding different fruit trees to my existing collection. I recently discovered and planted kumquats in my garden. Growing a variety of nutritious fruits that I can snack on, throw in a smoothie or make a simple fruit salad with is one of my special ways of being proactive about my diet and health.
Now, I have added loquat trees to the collection. Unbeknownst to me until recently, this new addition was necessary because picking up the loquat fruit at a local Whole Foods or grocery store may not be possible.
This fruit is so delicate and decays so quickly, it would be just too much of a waste and money drainer to sell commercially. It is possible you may find loquats at your local farmers market. In California, the fruit begins to ripen in April through May.
You may find products like loquat tea at your store, but if you want the fruit in its purest form you may want to consider picking up the fun hobby of gardening. A simple Google search of “where can I buy loquat trees” will direct you to different plant nurseries and orchards where you can purchase online or pick up in person. For tips on planting loquat trees, click here.
So what is a loquat?
The loquat, also known as the “Japanese medlar,” is native to southeastern China. Loquats were introduced to Japan, which is the leading producer of loquats today, more than 1,000 years ago. After Japan, leading producers of loquats are Israel and Brazil.
Some describe these generally pear-shaped fruits as hybrids of a mango and an apricot or a mango and a peach. There are 800 varieties of Loquats, but only 8 varieties are grown in California, according to Food Forward.
Loquat trees are drought tolerant, which is great considering I live in the drought city of Los Angeles, but as I mentioned the fruit of the loquat tree is not commercially grown in California and many other states.
Let’s take a deeper look at some of the health benefits of loquats.
Loquats are indeed delicious and a great source of nutrients including minerals and vitamins. Vitamins include folate and vitamin A and C. Minerals include potassium, phosphorous, calcium and magnesium.
- Loquats have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Vitamin C, is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. According to National Institutes of Health (NIH), loquats have been used in Chinese folk medicine to treat inflammatory diseases and ailments including coughs, chronic bronchitis and asthma. Broadway star Constantine Maroulis swears by honey, loquat and hot water to preserve his voice and stay healthy in between shows.
- Loquats may benefit your vision and make your skin pretty.Vitamin A helps protect the surface of the eye (cornea) and is also essential for good vision. Vitamin A is also known as retinol. You may have seen retinol in face cleansers and moisturizers because it improves the skin’s elasticity and helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
- Loquats may help improve your mental health and reduce your risk for heart disease. Loquats are rich in folate, a nutrient we previously blogged about. Let’s revisit why folate is so crucial for your health and maybe even happiness. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “[s]ome studies show that 15 to 38% of people with depression have low folate levels and those with very low levels tend to be the most depressed.” The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says people with folate deficiencies have a greater chance of responding poorly to antidepressants. Research has also shown folate lowers levels of an amino acid called homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine have been associated with an increased risk of inflammation and heart disease.
- Loquats may assist in the regulation and prevention of hypertension. Potassium may help lower blood pressure by balancing out negative effects of salt. According to Harvard Health, “[w]hen it comes to fighting high blood pressure, the average American diet delivers too much sodium and too little potassium. Eating to reverse this imbalance could prevent or control high blood pressure and translate into fewer heart attacks, strokes, and deaths from heart disease.”
- Loquats may enable anti-diabetic activity. Loquats have chemicals that regulate insulin production. Insulin is involved in regulating sugar levels in the blood, which can help prevent and manage diabetes.
- Loquats may provide anti-cancer activity. NIH conducted a study using mice about different loquat extracts and found that “[a]s a traditional folk medicine component, loquat extracts have also displayed chemoprotective properties against various cancer cell lines.” This is likely because loquats are a great source of antioxidants. Loquats are also a good source of calcium, which I’m sure you’re aware helps protect your bones, but what you may not know is calcium may also decrease your risk for colorectal cancer.
- Loquats may be a natural pain-killer. Loquats are a great source of the mineral magnesium, which is great for pain management. Many people use magnesium as a safe alternative to ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Magnesium may even help alleviate leg cramps women may experience during pregnancy.
- Loquats may help control your weight and prevent obesity. Loquats contain phosphorus, which is a mineral that is associated with weight loss. Studies show that individuals with high levels of phosphorus tend to have lower body weight. Phosphorus may also help the body filter waste.
For complete nutritional value information on loquats, click here and to learn more about the minerals in loquats read Minerals - The Forgotten Nutrient: Your Secret Weapon for Getting and Staying Healthy.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, health care attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. To learn more about the pH Health Care Team, click here.