Most people are familiar with passion fruit juice or purée, but maybe you’re wondering, “can you eat passion fruit?” The answer is yes — and you might want to, considering it’s a good source of antioxidants, fiber and other other nutrients.
This tropical fruit has long history of use in places such as Brazil, India and Hawaii, where natives believed that passion fruit benefits included lowering inflammation, improving digestion and protecting the skin. Today, we know from studies that it may also offer protection against inflammatory conditions, such as insulin resistance and heart-related problems.
Passion fruit is a type of berry that gets its name from the plant it grows on (mainly Passiflora edulis and Passiflora flavicarpa). These plants are several of an estimated hundred species of the passion flower, which belong to the Malpighiales plant family.
Passion fruit is a seedy fruit that is usually yellow or golden, although it depends on the exact type. For example, there are purple varieties grown in Australia, and many hybrid types that contain a mix of different colors.
The passion fruit plant is a tropical species that is native to Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Today it grows in these countries, as well as throughout tropical regions including parts of Australia, India, Africa and Hawaii. Depending on the language, the plant goes by various names such as granadilla, Krishna Phal and maracuya.
Species of passion fruit grown around the world include:
What does passion fruit taste like? Passion fruit’s taste is described as being sweet-sour (or tart) and highly aromatic. It has a strong, signature smell that stands out among other tropical fruits. It also has a unique appearance, with a hard outer rind and a juicy center that is filled with small, edible seeds.
One passion fruit contains approximately:
According to studies, passion fruit nutrition benefits include fighting free radical damage and oxidative stress, thanks to the presence of phytonutrients such as carotenoids and flavonoid polyphenols.
Within passion fruit seeds you’ll find polyphenols including the type called piceatannol, which is associated with protection against insulin resistance among overweight adults. Piceatannol is a naturally occurring polyphenolic stilbene found in various fruits and vegetables that may also exhibit anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties, according to recent studies.
A 2017 randomized, placebo-controlled study that was conducted on 39 adults investigated the beneficial effects of piceatannol on metabolic health. Findings showed that piceatannol has positive effects on glucose-metabolism, including insulin sensitivity, compared to placebo when taken for eight weeks.
What is the benefit of passion fruit for those following a low glycemic diet? This fruit is high in fiber, especially the kind called pectin, and low in sugar compared to other fruits. Although it has a subtle sweetness, it can help to provide nutrients without spiking your blood sugar too much.
It’s especially good for boosting your fiber intake when you consume the fruit and seeds, rather than just the juice.
Due to its antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory properties, this fruit can help to keep skin healthy, including by helping to ward off wrinkles and supporting wound healing. Research findings also demonstrate that passion fruit seeds, which contain certain peptides, possess antifungal activities and can promote collagen synthesis.
A 2018 study, which was a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial, found that piceatannol from passion fruit extract is associated with a “wide variety of effects on the skin, including promoting collagen production, inhibiting melanin synthesis, inducing the antioxidant glutathione, and eliminating reactive oxygen species” when used for 4 to 8 weeks.
According to 2013 study, piceatannol and other strong antioxidants that are present in passion fruit can reduce photo-aging. The skin-protecting effects of this fruit seem to be due to its ability to suppress the UVB-induced generation of reactive oxygen species and to protect fibroblasts that form the skin matrix.
As a decent source of essential minerals like magnesium, calcium, phosphorous and potassium, passion fruit benefits may include supporting bone health, cardiovascular function and physical performance.
How can you tell if passion fruit is ripe and ready to eat? Look for fruit that is large, plump and has skin that’s a bit wrinkled, rather than mostly smooth skin. The fruit will typically turn from green to deep yellow or purple once ripe, then fall the ground due to its heaviness.
To store passion fruit, wash and dry the fruit then store it in a bag, ideally in a cool place, for up to 2 to 3 weeks. You can also freeze both the fruit and juice to keep them fresh for longer.
You can eat this fruit raw, however you’ll want to discard the hard outer skin that is considered inedible. You’ll get the most benefits by eating passion fruit seeds, which is where most of the fiber is found.
However because of its tart taste, many people prefer to combine it with other sweeter fruits, or creamy ingredients like coconut milk, cream, or condensed milk. The flavor of passion fruit also blends well with citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruit.
Here are some ideas for using it in healthy recipes:
What are the side effects of passion fruit? Most people can tolerate this fruit well, but there is risk for possible allergic reactions. While the two might seem unrelated, people with latex allergies seem to be susceptible to reacting poorly to passion fruit, due to similar chemical compositions among these two substances.
In order to minimize risk for side effects, it’s best to consume this fruit in small to moderate quantities, especially if you drink passion fruit juice. Due to its sugar content, stick to servings of about 4 to 8 ounces daily.
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