Passion fruit is an intriguing and mysterious fruit that has a surprising number of health and medicinal benefits for those fruit lovers who choose to incorporate it into their diet.
A few of these benefits include its ability to enhance digestion, boost immune function, improve eye and skin health, lower blood pressure, boost circulation, and improve bone mineral density. Furthermore, it is known for lessening inflammation and improving sleep.
What is Passion Fruit?
Passionfruit looks a little strange growing on its creeper vine, which can wrap itself around almost any surface and cling onto it, seeking sunlight. But don’t let appearances fool you – this fruit is widely eaten around the world, and has been for hundreds of years. There are more than 500 varieties of passion fruit, with widely varying appearances. In terms of color, they are usually yellow or dark purple and look somewhat like a grapefruit in shape. The interior is filled with firm, juicy meat and an abundance of seeds. The fruit is regularly squeezed for the juice; you’ll often see it added to other juices to improve the flavor and add an exotic taste.
You can find passion fruits grown in nearly any warm climate in the world, provided the temperature is frost-free throughout the year. This includes the South Pacific, Central America, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and various subtropical locations throughout the world. It is a popular breakfast food and snack and is also used in making juice. Passionfruit flavor is also used as an additive to salsa, salad, and desserts.
Nutritional Value of Passion Fruit
The long list of health benefits commonly attributed to passion fruit is due to the nutrient such as antioxidants, flavonoids, mineral, and vitamin content of the fruit. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, passion fruit contains vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, fiber, and protein. The percentages of many of the vitamins and minerals are surprisingly high, and passion fruit is a great addition to the diet that can result in a number of amazing health benefits.
Health Benefits of Passion Fruit
Let’s explore some of those benefits in greater detail below.
A study by lead researcher Dr. Stephen Talcott of the University of Florida’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition indicates that passion fruit has a significant number of antioxidants, which help to enhance the body’s immunity.
Since ancient times, it is believed that passion fruit has been cultivated and enjoyed because it provides a boost to the immune system. It was however unknown to most people until modern times that this immune strengthening property was due to the presence of vitamin C, carotene, and cryptoxanthin. In fact, a serving of passion fruit (100 grams) provides about 30 mg of vitamin C. Many of the vitamins contained in passion fruit – such as those listed above – act as antioxidants, which scavenge free radicals from the body and neutralize them before they can harm the organ systems. It is thought that an antioxidant-rich diet assists in the prevention and reduction of conditions like cancer, heart disease, or premature aging. Furthermore, vitamin C stimulates the activity of white blood cells and the rest of the immune defense system, thereby protecting from common illnesses and serious diseases at the same time.
Passion fruit is also thought to be a powerful source to enhance anti-carcinogenic activity in the body. Antioxidants in passion fruit primarily eliminate free radicals, which are known for mutating the DNA of healthy cells into cancerous ones. According to the Journal Food Research International, passion fruit also contains vitamin C, flavonoids, and phenolic compounds, all of which have been linked with anti-cancer properties.
Rich in Vitamin A
Vitamin A is linked to benefits in eye health, including the prevention of macular degeneration, cataracts, and night blindness. Furthermore, the high antioxidant content of passion fruit is helpful in reducing wrinkles, and promotes the proper functioning of membranes throughout the body, including the skin, to keep it hydrated and glowing!
Aids in Digestion
Passion fruits are a very rich source of fiber, according to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. A single cup of this fruit provides the human body with approximately 98 percent of its daily requirement. Fiber is an essential component of a healthy diet since it is the substance that facilitates healthy digestion of food, and the regulation of bowel movements.
Passion fruit is a good source of soluble fiber, both in the pulp and in the rind, which acts as a bulk laxative, moving food through the digestive tract and reducing the exposure time of the colon to any toxins. They are even considered beneficial in reducing excess cholesterol.
Reduces Blood Pressure
If you eat a one serving of passion fruit daily, you can satisfy one-quarter of your potassium needs. Potassium is a vital mineral in the human body for a number of reasons, one of which is its role as a vasodilator, according to a report by Dr. Robert Brace, author of “Fetal and Neonatal Body Fluids”. It relaxes the tension of blood vessels and promotes increased blood flow. This reduces the strain on the heart and increases overall cardiovascular health.
Furthermore, potassium is necessary to maintain the proper fluid balance of the body’s cells. Movement between membranes is often only allowed through potassium-regulated channels, so proper amounts of this mineral are of extreme importance. Make sure you pop a passion fruit into your lunch once in a while to keep your heart healthy and your cells functioning at optimal levels!
When combined with the vasodilation properties of potassium, the high iron and copper content of passion fruit can really make an impact. Iron and copper are both essential components of red blood cell (RBC) production. Once the RBC count increases and the vessels are dilated, then healthy, oxygenated blood can flow freely to necessary areas of the body, stimulating the metabolic activity in all the organ systems and boosting productivity and efficiency. Healthy blood flow is essential for proper functioning!
Improves Bone Health
Passion fruit is such a rich source of minerals including iron, copper, magnesium, and phosphorus; it is a very important fruit for increasing bone mineral density and bone strength. Many of these minerals play an integral role in creating additional bone matter, strengthening existing bone matter, and speeding up repair. This can be a means of preventing or alleviating the symptoms of osteoporosis, and the associated pain and inflammation that occurs when bones deteriorate with age and activity.
One often overlooked compound in passion fruit is a medicinal alkaloid, Harman, which functions as a sedative. This compound of passion fruit has been connected – mostly in fold medicine with a reduction in restlessness, insomnia, and nervous anxiety, which can keep you from getting a good night’s sleep. So, instead of a glass of warm milk, next time try reaching for a slice of passion fruit and head back to your pillow!
Soothes Respiratory Conditions
A study in the journal Nutritional Research has shown that a combination of various extracts from the purple passion fruit peel creates a novel mixture of bioflavonoids. This mixture has an expectorant, sedative, and soothing effect on the respiratory system. It has been positively connected to a reduction in asthma attacks, wheezing, and whooping cough. Next time someone in your family starts hacking and coughing, slice off some passion fruit peel as it can be safely offered as an alternative treatment to reduce these symptoms.