Follow This Passion to Better Health6 years ago | Nutrition
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
Passion fruit! Just the name of this fruit makes it enticing to eat.
“Passion fruit is a must in my home,” says Australian-born chef Curtis Stone, star of Bravo’s "Top Chef Duels" and owner of Maude in Beverly Hills.
“It has a citrus-like freshness with an exotic flavor. Passion fruit is a very Aussie ingredient: We use it a lot there since it grows rather abundantly and is fairly inexpensive. But it's not used here in the States as much, and it tends to be rather expensive here. However, it's pretty easy to grow; I have passion fruit vines growing at my home, which yield quite a lot of fruit."
And passion fruit is actually considered a berry. There are two general distinct kinds of passion fruit: the standard purple and then yellow passion fruit. Both are often called granadilla in Spanish, and the purple is believed to be native to southern Brazil through Paraguay to northern Argentina. The origin of the yellow is unknown.
The taste of passion fruit is both sweet and tart (the seeds inside the fruit are edible but tart) and has a strong, perfume-like scent.
When picking out passion fruit at the grocery store or your local farmers market, you should smell the fruit and pick out the most fragrant one. And if the skin of the fruit is wrinkled, this is a good thing.
“The positive effects of passion fruit may be related to the compounds in its pulp,” according to one report from the Journal of Medicinal Food.
“Passiflora species [which includes passion fruit and several types of passion flower varieties] are rich in pectin, minerals, carotenoids, vitamin C, and flavonoids. Studies have shown that pectins can reduce total cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL cholesterol levels and increase HDL cholesterol levels. Fibers might reduce plasma lipid levels by increasing the excretion of cholesterol and biliary acids in feces. This effect on lipids reduces vascular damage and heart disease.”
And there are even more reasons why you might want to add passion fruit to your fruit bowl.
Let’s take a look at some of the nutrients in one cup of raw passion fruit:
- Protein, 5.19 gm. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals.
- Calcium, 28 mg. Of course, calcium is important for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. This mineral is also important for maintaining hair and nail health in perimenopausal and menopausal women. Adequate calcium intake may also decrease your risk for colorectal cancer.
- Magnesium, 68 mg. This must-have mineral helps with blood pressure regulation and also has antioxidant properties. Several studies have also shown an improvement in the severity of symptoms of depression when study participants were given 125-300 mg of magnesium with each meal and at bedtime.
- Phosphorus, 160 mg. This mineral often does not get the credit it deserves, but it does so much for your body. Phosphorus is almost as abundant in your body as calcium and helps calcium build strong bones and teeth. Phosphorus is also important for how your body stores and uses energy, repairs cells and is needed to make proteins like the one responsible for the oxygen-carrying capabilities of our red blood cells. This mineral has also been linked to weight management. In a study of almost 40,000 women in Korea, phosphorus deficiency correlated with weight gain from oral contraceptives. Furthermore, a study from Lebanon showed that phosphorus supplements in a small group (63 people) for 12 weeks significantly decreased body weight, BMI, waist circumference and subjective appetite scores.
- Potassium, 821 mg. This must-have mineral works with sodium to balance the fluids and electrolytes in the body. Potassium helps keep blood pressure under control and may even help reduce kidney stones and bone loss as you age.
- Sodium, 66 mg. This often feared mineral is something we may have been told to avoid, but in reality sodium helps to engineer the actions of every human cell. Every human action including eating, thinking, running and working depends on adequate balance of sodium. Just be careful and talk to your doctor about your particular sodium needs. Avoid processed foods, which usually contain way more sodium than any of us may need. Passion fruit provides a healthier, more natural way to get sodium.
- Folate, 33 mcg. Folate (also called vitamin B9) is a very important nutrient, especially for pregnant women. Folate may also help prevent cancer and heart disease and improve mental health. A study from Harvard Health reported folate may also be useful in treating symptoms of depression.
- Choline, 17.9 mg. Choline helps your liver, brain, muscles, nervous system and overall metabolism function.
- Vitamin A, 3002 IU. This vitamin is an antioxidant that supports the immune system and is good for skin and eye health. Vitamin A also promotes cell growth.
Passion fruit may help you fall asleep.
In addition to the nutrients identified above, passion fruit contains organic compounds (alkaloids). One of them in particular is called harman, which has a mild sedative effect and may help you fall asleep. This alkaloid may also have blood pressure lowering effects and antispasmodic effects (which may help relieve pain and stomach cramps).
Passion fruit may reduce blood glucose levels.
There is a phytochemical in passion fruit called piceatannol. A study showed that piceatannol may have a positive influence on metabolic health and significantly decrease fasting serum insulin levels in overweight men.
Keep in mind that passion fruit is relatively high in sugar (almost 27 grams in one cup), so it is important to eat in moderation and consult your doctor if you are prediabetic or diabetic.
Passion fruit may help provide relief from symptoms of asthma.
The peel of passion fruit is very rich in antioxidants and has anti inflammatory properties. One study found that purple passion fruit peel extract improved wheezing, shortness of breath and coughs in asthmatic adults.
Passion fruit may help prevent cancer.
This fruit is very rich in vitamin C (70.8 mg in one cup) and many other antioxidants that help fight free radical damage in the body, a major contributor to cancer and many other types of disease. The fiber content (24.5 gm in one cup) may also help prevent colorectal cancer. Studies have shown that high-fiber diets promote apoptosis and suppress colorectal tumor development.
Passion fruit is so nutrient-dense and rich in antioxidants it may also improve immune and cognitive function, improve bone mineral density, keep your skin and hair looking healthy and more.
How can you get more passion fruit in your diet?
Passion fruit is super easy to incorporate into your diet. Simply scoop out the fleshy pulp inside the fruit and eat it or add to a smoothie. Passion fruit is also great for making marinades, jams, salsas and dressings. It is also great in Greek yogurt or oatmeal.
These Fresh and Healthy Passionfruit Bliss Balls sound like a nice healthy snack you can take to go.
- 1/3 quinoa flakes
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
- 4 pitted dates
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 passion fruits
Any downsides to eating passion fruit?
Passion fruit appears to be overall a safe and healthy food. People who have a latex allergy seem to be at risk of also having an allergy to passion fruit.
“Purple passion fruit skin may also contain chemicals called cyanogenic glycosides. These can combine with enzymes to form the poison cyanide and are therefore potentially poisonous in large amounts,” according to one report.
But you would likely not eat enough to cause poisoning.
As always, if you have any health issues and/or are taking any medications communicate with a competent healthcare professional about what foods are a part of your daily diet. You always want to try to avoid drug interactions.
Enjoy your healthy life!
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