Growing up in India, relishing a variety of fresh fruits that thrive in the tropical subcontinent for their delicious taste and immense nutrition is a given. In this regard, a particular plant family known as Rosaceae encompasses succulent bounty namely apples, strawberries, pears. While these may all sound quite familiar, a lesser-known fruit that also belongs to this category is the loquat. Yes, agreed, it might sound weird, but don’t let its name stop you from consuming this wholesome produce laden with essential nutrients.
Bearing an outer appearance similar to a pear – oval in shape or sometimes rounded/elongated, with a smooth yellow to orange-hued skin, loquats taste like apples, slightly sour with a sweet note, emanating a pleasing aroma when fully ripened. Imbued with vitamin A for enhanced eyesight, vitamin B6 for brain power, potassium for heart wellness, vitamin C for bolstered immunity and calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous for fortified bones, loquats are undoubtedly a boon for overall health.
The Loquat Tree:
The loquat tree is native to China, where it thrives in the pleasant cool regions that have a subtropical to temperate climate. However, the tree has been introduced to many other parts of the world over the past few centuries and has been naturalized in Japan, India, Thailand, as well as in warm countries of Spain, Italy in Europe, Hawaii in the USA in North America and parts of South Africa, Australia, South America.
Scientifically termed as Eriobotrya japonica, the loquat tree is an evergreen shrub with a short trunk and thick twigs. Usually growing up to heights of 10 – 13 feet, this tree bears long, dark green, leathery leaves with hair-like projections on the bottom. The flowers are white, with five petals and emanate an invigorating fragrance. Loquat fruits grow in clusters and have an oval to round shape, small in size like a plum, with a fine yellow exterior skin that encompasses a juicy orange flesh with big brown seeds inside. The ripe edible loquat fruits comprise an array of essential nutrients that confer outstanding health benefits and prevent chronic disorders of diabetes, hypertension and Alzheimer’s.
Loquat Fruit Nutrition:
The nutritional value in a 100 g serving of loquat fruits, as per research data from the USDA (United States Department Of Agriculture) Food Database, is as follows:
Carbohydrates 12.14 g
Dietary fibre 1.7 g
Fat 0.2 g
Protein 0.43 g
Vitamin A 76 μg
Thiamine (B1) 0.019 mg
Riboflavin (B2) 0.024 mg
Niacin (B3) 0.18 mg
Vitamin B6 0.1 mg
Folate (B9) 14 μg
Vitamin C 1 mg
Calcium 16 mg
Iron 0.28 mg
Magnesium 13 mg
Manganese 0.148 mg
Phosphorus 27 mg
Potassium 266 mg
Sodium 1 mg
Zinc 0.05 mg
Being high on dietary fibres and low in calories, loquat fruits help in weight loss and controlling appetite. Moreover, copious amounts of vitamin A improves eye health, while vitamin C builds immunity and vitamin B6 enhances brain functions. Calcium, magnesium help in delivering strong bones, joints, while iron stimulates blood circulation.
Loquats are also laden with antioxidants such as flavonoids, triterpenes, polyphenols, carotenoids and organic acids, esters, which confer useful anti-inflammatory properties to treat skin disorders, manage diabetes symptoms and prevent cancer.
Loquat Fruit Health Benefits:
Enhances Eye Health
Loquat fruit is bestowed with ample carotenoid antioxidants as well as vitamin A, which shield the optic nerve, retina and ocular parts from injury and damage. These beneficial nutrients also prevent the risk of serious eye disorders later on in life, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, cataract.
Loquat is a treasure trove of powerful nutrients, particularly bioflavonoids, a class of plant-based antioxidants. These significantly lessen the symptoms of pancreatic and intestinal cancers. Loquat also possesses the ability to remove excess estrogen – a female reproductive hormone involved in breast development and thus prevents breast cancer. The inherent dietary fibres infused in loquat ward off colon cancer and enhance gut health.
Aids In Weight Loss
Loquat is bestowed with immense quantities of natural fibres. These take a while to get completely digested and thereby regulate appetite. They also need to be ground harder by teeth to be converted into simpler forms for easier processing. This in turn keeps untimely cravings for junk food at bay. Loquat also regulates lipid metabolism in cells and tissues and reduces starch and sugar amounts in the body, thus accelerating weight loss.
Osteoporosis is a particularly incapacitating ailment that negatively influences posture, muscle and bone function and flexibility. It also causes excruciating pain in the affected joints. Loquat helps relieve pain and discomfort in limbs. Also, the bone-fortifying minerals – calcium and magnesium enhance connective tissue strength and improve the condition of brittle bones.
Supports Digestive Processes
Loquat is imbued with B vitamins which enhance the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates in the body for energy needs. Upon digestion, the bioactive components in loquat give rise to an alkaline environment in the gut. This helps to maintain stomach pH at normal, healthy levels. The dietary fibres in loquat also aid in prompt bowel movements and thus halt any instances of haemorrhoids.
Maintains Heart Health
Being intrinsically high in potassium levels, loquat assists in the maintenance of normal blood pressure. It also functions in promoting cardiac muscle activity, lowers the amounts of bad LDL cholesterol and raises levels of good HDL cholesterol. Loquat is very advantageous in preventing instances of heart attacks and stroke and thereby contributes to a longer and healthier lifespan.
Relaxes Muscle Cramps
Loquat is bestowed with the key mineral for optimal muscle function – magnesium. The significantly high magnesium content in loquat fruits makes it an ideal option to provide relief from muscle sores and cramps. Moreover, post a high-intensity workout, when muscles in the arms and legs are strained, eating a loquat fruit can instantly alleviate symptoms of pain and discomfort.
Loquat comprises valuable dietary fibres which ensure proper bowel movement upon ingestion of heavy meals. This is crucial to regulate kidney function and filter out all the toxic waste products upon digestion of food and assimilation of required nutrients. It also efficiently relieves intestinal conditions like constipation and indigestion.
The calcium present in loquat fruit is absorbed by bones in the body, thereby helping to maintain optimal bone density for day-to-day functions and flexible, unobstructed movement. The very high magnesium and phosphorous content in loquat complement bone health by enhancing mineral uptake by cells and tissues in the body.
Deficiency in iron quantities leads to a condition known as anaemia wherein there is a lack of adequate red blood cells in the body to transport nutrients and oxygen to all cells and tissues, triggering fatigue and body weakness. Eating loquat fruits will guarantee ample uptake of iron in the system and promote red blood cell synthesis and blood passage.
Loquat Fruit Uses For Skin And Hair:
Heals Acne Outbursts
Loquat contains several essential amino acids that help to build healthy skin cells and also suppress any redness and swelling that tends to develop on skin exposed to harsh environmental states. Its high flavonoid content provides antioxidants traits to assist in combating free radical damage, diminish acne, scars and dark spots and lessen skin irritation.
Slows Down Skin Ageing
Loquat fruit contains spermidine that aids in delaying skin cells from the process of ageing. The carotene class of flavonoid plant antioxidants further plays an important role in reducing the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and sunken skin. Eating loquat fruit or drinking the juice will also help to boost the production of collagen, a protein essential for maintaining the elasticity and firmness of skin texture.
Loquat Juice Recipe For Detox
4 tsp of honey
Peel the skin of the loquats and discard it.
Remove all seeds from the inner flesh of loquats.
Thoroughly blend in a juicer to extract the liquid content.
Mix the honey and crushed ice, with a little bit of water to obtain a homogenous fusion.
Relish the mildly sweetened loquat juice as a detox drink for glowing skin.
How It Works:
Loquat contains the rutin category of plant phenol antioxidants which have anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory properties. This helps to get rid of acne, scars and dark spots on the skin, giving the face a vibrant, youthful and soft appearance. It also boosts collagen synthesis in healthy skin cells and helps in slowing down ageing.
Supports Hair Growth
Loquat juice not only benefits skin but also promotes hair growth and thickness. The vitamin C and antioxidant content inherent in loquat fruit and juice help to strengthen the roots of hair known as follicles, to stimulate the proliferation of long and robust locks of hair. It assures the complete removal of harmful free radicals that cause weak and brittle hair and incessant hair loss, thereby guaranteeing the renewal of healthy hair growth.
Eradicates Dandruff Woes
Applying the juice extract or the peel of loquat onto an aggravated scalp assists in ridding the surface of dandruff and constant itching. The anti-fungal properties of loquat fruit offer the advantage of removing all irritants from the scalp and hence promotes nourished hair growth. The key trace minerals zinc and iron, as well as vitamin B1 and vitamin C also complement optimal development of hair roots and bestow long, strong and lustrous tresses.
This chunky yummy spread is made using ripe loquat fruits, which are naturally high in pectin – a kind of sugar that becomes a gel when heated and hence functions as a thickening agent. Dab this loquat jam onto toasted bread and enjoy a wholesome, tasty breakfast.
9 – 11 loquats, chopped and with seeds removed
3 cups sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cardamom powder
In a large vessel, combine the cut loquats with sugar and allow it to rest at room temperature for about 20 – 30 minutes so that the fruit juice is slowly released.
Mix the lemon juice and cardamom powder along with the loquats.
Now, boil the contents in the vessel on high flame for about 5 – 10 minutes, then simmer on medium-low flame for at least 40 minutes, continuously stirring to prevent the formation of lumps.
Once the colour of the jam changes from pale yellow to deep orange, turn off the flame and let it cool down for 30 minutes.
Transfer the loquat jam into clean glass jars, seal the lid tightly and dip it in hot water for 10 minutes to permit the gel to set well.
This mouth-watering sweet loquat jam can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Rich in potassium, loquats boost cardiac functions, by relaxing tension in the arteries and lowering high blood pressure. Lemon juice is an excellent detoxifying agent, high in citric acid content, thus purifying blood and ridding it of toxins. Cardamom is packed with aphrodisiac components, which elevate energy levels and enhance sexual health.
Loquat And Strawberry Fruit Salad
This super-easy fruit salad recipe can be prepared in a jiffy and eaten as a healthy mid-day or evening snack. Comprising a plethora of fresh organic bounty – loquats, strawberries, kiwis, grapes, it is simply good health, ample nutrition and great taste served in a bowl.
5 loquats, peeled
2 cups strawberries
3 kiwis, with peel removed
1 cup red grapes
A few mint leaves
Cut the loquat fruits in half, remove the seeds and slice it into medium-sized pieces.
Finely chop the strawberries in half and slice the kiwi fruits into small pieces.
Mix these cut fruits together in a large dish, add the grapes and garnish with mint leaves.
Divide it evenly into small bowls and relish this fresh loquat and strawberry fruit salad right away, or chill in the fridge for 15 – 20 minutes and enjoy it cold.
Imbued with vitamin B6 i.e. pyridoxine, loquat fruits uplift brain power, memory, concentration, mood, intellect and prevent neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s, dementia later on in life. Strawberries contain vast reserves of anthocyanin antioxidants which avert plaque formation in heart blood vessels, hence lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Grapes possess profuse quantities of resveratrol, which lessens inflammation in the body and slows down ageing, while kiwi fruits supply noteworthy levels of vitamin C, to promote immunity. Mint leaves are laden with thymol compounds that impart a cooling effect on the body and improve skin health.
Loquat Side Effects:
Consuming loquat fruits in moderate amounts does not cause any health issues. However, excessive intake of raw or ripe loquats can trigger digestive issues in the stomach, intestines, kidney problems and in some cases, hampers and weakens muscles – a condition known as toxic myopathy.
Moreover, the seeds of loquat fruits contain minimal volumes of cyanogenic glycosides – toxic compounds that release cyanide – a poison, when assimilated into the body. Hence, it is not recommended to ingest loquat seeds.
Additionally, loquat can trigger allergic reactions, leading to skin rashes, nausea and vomiting and in severe cases, even anaphylaxis – a life-threatening allergic reaction. Thus, it is advised to not eat loquat if it induces allergies and hypersensitivity symptoms in the body.
Undeniably, loquats are a treasure trove of essential nutrients, including dietary fibres, calcium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B6 and a host of antioxidants, which augment total healthcare. Adding this luscious fruit as part of the daily diet in small portions remarkably aids in better digestion, improved immune functions, heart wellness, optimal vision and enhanced skin and hair health.