Succulent, tangy yet sweet, wonderfully delicious loquat fruit is rich in vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. This unique fruit is originated in the mountainous, evergreen rain forests of Southeastern China, from where it spread all across the world, including Japan. Some of the common names of loquat include Japanese plum, Japanese medlar, Maltese plum, etc.
Loquat plant can be described as an evergreen, large shrub or small tree belonging to the family of Rosaceae, in the genus; Eriobotrya.
Botanical name is Eriobotrya japonica and closely related to the "apples."
Photo courtesy: DeusXFlorida
|Golden yellow loquats.
Photo courtesy: Kanko
Loquat fruits begin appearing in the trees by the end of winter season. Mature fruits can be ready to harvest by June in Japan; however, their harvesting season may vary from region to region. The fruits are oval to pear in shape, appear in bunches of 5-20, and measure about 3 cm in width and 3-5 cm in length.
In general, the fruits are allowed to ripen on the tree itself before harvesting. Ripe fruits have soft texture. Externally, its yellow to orange skin surface is fuzzy but smooth. Internally, the flesh is either white or golden-yellow depending on the cultivar type. Each fruit contains 3-5, centrally placed large, brown seeds. Seeds are inedible, and may carry toxic cyanogen-glycosides.
Being a member of Rosaceae family of fruits, loquats have similar taste and flavor as that of apples; tart, and sweet with pleasant aroma. But they are soft and juicy in texture instead of crispy as in apples. Loquat's leaves also employed in traditional medicines, and as herbal tea in many parts of the world.
Delicious, loquats carry lower calories; provide just 47 calories per 100 g. Nonetheless, they are rich in insoluble dietary fiber, pectin. Pectin holds back moisture inside the colon, and thus functions as bulk laxative. This way, it helps protect the colon mucous membrane by decreasing exposure time to toxic substances as well as binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon.
Pectin has also been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels by decreasing its re-absorption in the colon throggh binding bile acids, resulting in its excretion from the body.
Loquat fruit is an excellent source of vitamin-A (provides about 1528 IU or 51% of daily recommended levels of this vitamin per 100g), and phenolic flavonoid antioxidants such as chlorogenic acid, neo-chlorogenic acid, hydroxybenzoic acid, feruloylquinic acid, protocatechuic acid, epicatechin, coumaric acids and ferulic acid. Ripe fruits have more chlorogenic acid concentrations.
Vitamin A maintains integrity of mucus membranes, and skin. Lab studies have suggests that consumption of natural fruits rich in vitamin-A, and flavonoids may offer protection from lung and oral cavity cancers.
Fresh fruit is good in potassium and some B-complex vitamins such as folates, vitamin B-6 and niacin and contain small amounts of vitamin-C. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids, helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.
Furthermore, the fruit is also a good source of iron, copper, calcium, manganese, and other minerals. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is required for as a cofactor in cellular oxidation as well in red blood cell formation.
|Loquat fruit internal structure with seeds.|
Loquat fruit season begins by June in Japan. Generally, the fruits can be ready for harvesting once their skin turns yellow and flesh become soft in texture. Ripe fruits should be carefully picked up from the bunch and handled to avoid damage.
In the store, buy fresh ripe fruits featuring bright yellow color; smooth surface and impart mild yet sweet aroma. They should be devoid of any wrinkles, cuts and patches on the skin. Avoid any overtly soften fruits with spots as they tend to perish early.
Loquats keep well for up to two weeks in the fruit/vegetable compartment of the home refrigerator.
Wash loquats in cold water before consuming to remove any surface dirt or pesticide residues.
Its flesh just underneath the skin is rather sweeter than its central tart pulp. Skin can be easily peeled. Peeled fruits eaten fresh or may be mixed with other fruits like banana, mango, and orange sections in salads.
Here are some serving tips:
Loquat Fruit sections are a great addition to fruit salads.
They also used in desserts or as pie filling, or chopped and cooked as a sauce.
Loquat fruit is also made into jam, jelly and poached in sugar syrup with cinnamon to make delicious loquat fruit syrup.
The loquat fruit seeds contain many toxic alkaloids like cyanogen-glycosides which when consumed can cause serious life-threatening symptoms like vomiting, breathlessness, and death. Therefore, children may advised to avoid chewing seeds and adults should supervised while eating them.
(Medical disclaimer: The information and reference guides in this website are intended solely for the general information for the reader. It is not to be used to diagnose health problems or for treatment purposes. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your health care provider for any advice on medications).
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Visit here for very informative pages on:-
Research articles on nutrition.
2. Stanford School of Medicine Cancer information Page- Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk.
4. Butterfield, Harry M. A History of Subtropical Fruits and Nuts in California. University of California, Agricultural experiment Station. 1963.