Persimmon is an edible fruit from the trees of Diospyros genus belonging to ebenaceac family. The fruits resemble tomatoes in appearance. There are many varieties of persimmon fruits from different species. There are both edible and inedible fruits by humans.
Some of the well-known edible varieties of persimmon are:
- Asian or Japanese persimmon
- Lotus persimmon or date plum grown in south west Asia and south east Europe
- American persimmon, grown in eastern united states
- Black persimmon, native of Mexico
- Mabolo or velvet apple, native of Philippines and china
- Indian persimmon-grown in coastal west Bengal, finds its use in folk medicines
- Texas persimmon grown in Texas and Oklahoma in United States
Persimmon fruits are both astringent and non-astringent. There is another type of fruit called chocolate, cinnamon or brown sugar, based on the flavor and color. Astringent fruits, on account of their high level of tannins content are not palatable and taste bitter before they are fully ripe. Fully ripe persimmon fruits are sweet with delicate flavor even though they are astringent when not ripe.
China, Japan and Korea are the top producers of persimmon with a combined production of 2.56 million tons out of the overall global production of 4.6 million tons per annum.
The energy value and nutrient contents of different varieties of persimmon vary. The persimmon produced by majority of the countries are mostly Japanese persimmon variety and only this variety is discussed here in particular.
Japanese persimmon is a soft, sweet and slightly tangy fruit. Occasionally the fruit may be fibrous too.
The color of the well ripe fruit ranges from yellow-orange to dark red-orange based on the species and variety. Though called Japanese persimmon, it is cultivated in China, India, Korea, Nepal, California, Europe, and Brazil in addition to Japan.
Japanese persimmon fruits are edible and provide many health benefits.
100gm. Ripe fruit provides 70 calories of energy, 18.59gm. Carbohydrates, 12.53gm. Sugar, 3.6gm. Dietary fiber and small amounts of fat and protein.
It contains vitamin A 81 microgram (10% RDA), beta carotene 253 microgram, lutein and zeaxanthin 834 microgram, vitamin B6, 0.1 mg (8% RDA), vitamin C 7.5 mg (9% RDA), vitamin E0.73 mg (5% RDA) and smaller amounts of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, choline and vitamin K.
It contains 0.355 mg of Manganese (17% RDA), 9 mg of Magnesium (3% RDA), and 11 mg potassium (3% RDA) and small quantities of calcium, iron, phosphorous and zinc.
Health benefits of Persimmon fruits
Some of the significant health benefits from Japanese persimmon fruits are:
Prevention of cancer
Persimmon contains vitamin C and A, and some unusual phenolic compounds catechin and gallocatechins which directly protects from cancer. The antioxidants in the fruit fights free radicals produced in the body during metabolism, by eliminating the harmful free radicals, the fruit prevents formation of cancer cells.
Dietary fiber in persimmon fruit is 20% of RDA. It helps efficient processing of food intake by the body and increases the formation of digestive and gastric juices which cures constipation and diarrhoea. By protecting the gastrointestinal system, the fiber in the fruit protects from colorectal cancer.
The betulinic acid in persimmon is an anti-tumor compound. Betulinic acid induces apoptosis and decreases the chances of formation of tumor. (Apoptosis is an intrinsically programmed mechanism responsible for physiological deletion of cells. Cell death occurs due to apoptosis). More than prevention of tumor, it can even reduce the size of the existing tumor which is a great benefit. The catechins in persimmon are anti-infective, anti-inflammatory and more significantly anti-hemorrhagic and prevents bleeding from small blood vessels.
Lutein and zeaxanthin in persimmon fruit helps in improving vision in addition to preventing formation of cataract and decreasing macular degeneration in elders. Antioxidants removes the free radicals and prevents retinal damage. The wrinkles around the eyes are also reduced.
Potassium in persimmon regulates the blood pressure and widens the blood vessels. It also relaxes the body muscles. It contains low fat and high water in it and flushes the bad cholesterol from the body thereby protecting the heart. It also help in weight loss.
Protects immune system
Vitamin C in the fruit protects against contacting flu, infection and common cold. As vitamin C improves iron absorption capacity, it strengthens the bones and muscles.
How to consume
Only fully ripe fruit with yellow-orange to dark red orange can be consumed.
You can consume the raw fruit from inside to avoid eating the skin or peel the skin before consumption. Allow the fruit to ripe fully to become soft and so that it does not become rotten. The bitterness in the fruit will vanish and become sweet only when allowed to ripe fully. Well ripe fruit can be eaten with a spoon also. You can cook the fruit before eating according to one’s taste.
Unripe persimmon fruit contain a soluble tannin called shipuol which when comes in contact with acid in the stomach forms bezoars (woody ball like substances) which sticks in the digestive canal. Do not consume this fruit on an empty stomach as it may cause diarrhoea. Diabetic patients may use it only moderately since it has sugar content in it which can increase the blood sugar level.