What Are the Health Benefits of Eating Loquat Fruits?
You may have spotted the small, yellow cluster of fruits grown from the gorgeous, exotic-looking trees along the streets of California. Also known as the Japanese plum, the loquat fruit tastes sweet and tangy, with a hint of sour at the same time.
Peel the thin outer layer, and you will be rewarded with the succulent and juicy flesh of the fruit. Picking loquat straight from the loquat tree and eating them raw reminds me of careless warm days of summer.
Not only do they taste delicious and refreshing, but there are also many health benefits to the loquat fruit.
What Do Loquat Trees Look Like?
The loquat tree (Eriobotrya japonica) can grow up to 30 feet, with their impressive foliage that adds that tropical look to any landscape. Loquat leaves are dark green, with a glossy appearance. Small white flowers provide a sweet subtle fragrance that appears early spring or late winter. The fruits are usually ready to be harvested by March.
I have a smaller loquat tree that is about 10 feet in my garden. Our friendly squirrels also love to compete for the fruits. I have to tie plastic bags around the clusters of fruits to protect them from the squirrels.
What Are the Benefits of Eating Loquat Fruits?
Loquats are extremely helpful for diabetics. My aunt is diabetic and uses the loquat leaves to brew tea, which helps stabilize her blood sugar level.
- Loquats are rich in soluble fiber due to pectin, which is a soluble dietary fiber found in citrus fruits. Pectin binds to cholesterol in the stomach, and slows glucose absorption by trapping carbohydrates. Pectin also reduces cholesterol levels.
- Pectin in loquats also helps retain moisture in the colon and protects it from binding to toxic chemicals.
- Loquats are high in antioxidants. The riper they are, the higher the concentration of antioxidants.
- They have a high amount of vitamin A (2276 IU per cup).
- They are also high in potassium and also contain some vitamin B-complexes.
- Loquats are a good source of minerals, including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
- They have a low Glycemic Load Index of 4.
According to Dr. Michael Tierra L.Ac., O.M.D. , the loquat leaves are also:
- "...beneficial to the vital energy of the lungs. It dissolves and expectorates phlegm and alleviates cough. Relieving coughing and vomiting. The flesh promotes the secretion of body fluids and eliminates thirst. The tender leaves are used for various types of coughs but the under side is usually prepared by rubbing the hairs off so they do not irritate the throat."
How to Eat Loquat FruitsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Where Can Loquat Trees Be Found?
Although the loquat originated from southeastern China, Japan is actually the leading producer of loquats. Loquat trees are also commonly found in Brazil and Israel. Surprisingly, they are now quite common in California!
In California, you can see them commonly lined along the coastal areas from San Diego to Sacramento. The fruits are now grown in many farm gardens such as Brentwood, California.
The fruits are usually harvested between the months of March to June. Harvesting these fruits can be somewhat labor intensive for farmers, since it is difficult to handle the fragile clusters of fruits. They also have a shorter shelf life. Thus, it limits the loquat fruit as a major commercial fruit.
Have You Eaten Loquats Before?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Kim Lam