When it comes to fruits, Mother Nature leaves no stone unturned, offering vast reserves of edible bounty which come in various shapes, sizes and colours, that not only tantalize the taste buds but also augment overall health. Of course, native produce like mango, banana, papaya, jackfruit, grapes and many more, that have been cultivated in India for thousands of years, might all sound quite familiar. Yet, one unique fruit that was introduced to India just a century ago by European settlers, originally grown in China and Japan, which is presently gaining popularity in the subcontinent thanks to its delicious, sweet taste and excellent nutritional value, is persimmon.
These tiny orange fruits are obtained from the deciduous Diospyros kaki trees that thrive in the oriental tropical rainforests, which also yield a decorative attractive-looking wood used for ornamental purposes. Rich in vitamins C, A, E, K, B, in addition to crucial minerals of potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, manganese, iron, copper and antioxidants, persimmon confers astounding wellness incentives. These include lowering inflammation, preserving optimal eyesight, facilitating smooth bowel movements, averting heart disease and supporting digestion processes.
The Persimmon Plant:
Persimmon fruits are borne by the tall Diospyros kaki trees, which grow up to heights of 15 to 60 feet and have a distinct round top. The Diospyros kaki is the most widely grown variety in the world, being indigenous to China, Korea, Japan in Asia and known as Asian persimmon or Oriental persimmon, while another variant – Diospyros virginiana is also cultivated in North America, called American persimmon. From the generally erect to sometimes crooked thick barks branch out many stems, which bear bluish-green long oblong leaves with hairy petioles, transforming into vivid shades of orange, yellow, red in the autumn season, being deciduous. The flowers of the tree are bright pink or pale white and develop into fruits in the late fall to winter season.
Ripe persimmon fruits are usually light yellowish-orange to deep reddish-orange in colour and like tomatoes, are not regarded as berries but as per morphology, they belong to the berry category, which is a fleshy fruit without a stone or pit, that buds from a single flower. These minuscule bounties are spherical, acorn-like or pumpkin-shaped, with the ripe fruits being quite succulent and sweet in taste owing to their considerable glucose content. Blessed with a delectable flavour – a subtle sugary honey-like taste and immense nutrition, persimmons are eaten fresh, in the dried form, used in cooking curries, sauces, fruit jams, incorporated into salads, refreshing drinks of juices, smoothies, milkshakes and added to desserts like pies, puddings, cakes.
Persimmons possess a treasure trove of essential nutrients, supplying ample dietary fibres and being low on calories, fat, cholesterol to aid in weight loss. They comprise a spectrum of key vitamins – vitamin C for immunity, vitamin A for healthy vision, vitamin E for heart and skin wellness, vitamins B1, B2 for elevated metabolism, vitamin K for normal blood clotting and tissue repair mechanisms and vitamin B6 for augmenting brain power, nervous system activity.
These fruits may be small in size but are loaded with vital minerals of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous for bones and joints, potassium to tackle hypertension, besides manganese for normal nerve function and iron for healthy red blood cell synthesis and circulation. Moreover, persimmons house a plethora of bioactive compounds such as polyphenols, tannins, catechins, proanthocyanidins, carotenoids that display valuable antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-hypertensive and anti-ageing characteristics.
Spectacular Health Benefits Of Persimmon:
Persimmon is blessed with vitamin C, as well as flavonoids, that hold strong antioxidant qualities to build resistance and safeguard the body from disease. By scavenging detrimental free radicals and toxins from oxidising healthy cells in the body, these organic components in persimmon prevent seasonal infections of cough, cold, fever and chronic disorders of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, arthritis and dementia.
Promotes Heart Wellness
Laden with vitamin E which supplies healthy unsaturated fats and dietary fibres that regulate cholesterol levels, persimmon is a great addition to the diet to bolster heart health. Furthermore, having significant quantities of potassium that decreases pressure in arteries and anthocyanin elements with cardioprotective traits, persimmon effectively lowers high blood pressure, maintains normal heartbeat, pulse and prevents hypertension, arrhythmia.
Alleviates Digestive Disorders
The wealth of B vitamins – B1, B2, B3 as well as soluble fibres in persimmon deliver superb merits for digestive health. While B vitamins regulate the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins, fats for optimal metabolism and energy levels, fibres enable unobstructed bowel movements for the elimination of solid wastes from the system and avert issues of bloating, flatulence, constipation. The phytonutrients - tannins, polyphenols showcase antimicrobial features to thwart stomach infections while fibres balance gut microbial flora to foster routine functioning of intestines.
Enhances Eye Health
Persimmon comprises profuse amounts of vitamin A, as well as carotenoid antioxidants – lutein, zeaxanthin, which provide astounding incentives for eye wellness. These beneficial constituents enhance the operations of the optic organelles – the retina, cornea, lens, conjunctiva and stimulate blood circulation to the optic nerve. Including persimmon as part of the regular diet averts eye ailments like age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, cataract in the later years for healthy vision.
Enriches Skin Texture
Imbued with umpteen skin-rejuvenating compounds, persimmon is a panacea to treat a host of skin woes. The richness of vitamins C, E, plus catechin antioxidants offer anti-inflammatory properties to heal acne, dark spots, scars, besides slowing down skin ageing and minimising the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Consuming persimmon fruits as such, or in juices, salads banishes dull, pimple-prone skin to reveal a clear, bright and blemish-free complexion.
Persimmon Side Effects:
Persimmon does not present any serious side effects when eaten in moderation. However, certain individuals may be allergic to these fruits and exhibit symptoms of upset stomach, nausea, or in grave circumstances, even an anaphylactic shock and must hence avoid eating persimmon.
Additionally, ingesting very large quantities of persimmon results in the formation of bezoars – which are hardened masses that are produced when tannins, indigestible fibres in persimmon react with stomach acids. These bezoars impede digestive passages and lead to gastrointestinal issues and hence excess consumption of persimmon must be avoided.
Persimmons are tiny, orange fruits with a luscious, sweet taste that offer remarkable nutrition values and amazing benefits for wellbeing. Comprising immense vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, persimmon enhances digestion, uplifts vision, improves the functioning of the heart and even prevents chronic ailments of diabetes and cancer.
Add these delightful fruits to the diet in measured amounts, to reap the fantastic wellness incentives they supply and promote overall health.