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Passionate about passion fruit

Who doesn’t like the divine flowers, the sweetness and fragrance of passion fruit. It is easy to grow and super rewarding. Plant it in a sunny spot and water regularly; just watch as beautiful flowers turn into tasty fruit. 

Passion fruit is a flowering tropical vine, known as Passiflora, that grows in warm climates such as South America, Australia, South Africa, and India. A common species of passion fruit is passiflora edulis, but there are different species and it may sometimes be referred to as granadilla.

Passion fruit contains a soft pulp and lots of seeds inside a hard rind. People can eat the seeds and pulp, juice them, or add them to other juices. Passion fruit has gained a lot of attention because it is a source of powerful antioxidants and may also have other health benefits.

High in vitamins – Passion fruit is a beneficial fruit with a healthful nutrition profile. It contains high levels of vitamin A, which is important for skin, vision, and the immune system, and vitamin C, which is an important antioxidant. One fruit without the refuse contains the following nutrients in milligrams (mg), international units (IU), or grams (g): 229 IU of vitamin A, 63 mg of potassium, 5 mg of magnesium, 5.4 mg of vitamin C, 2 mg of calcium, 0.29 mg of iron, 1.9 g of fibre. Passion fruit also contains phosphorus, niacin, and vitamin B-6, all of which a healthy body also needs.

Rich in antioxidants – Passion fruit is rich in antioxidants, which are compounds that help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. Antioxidants play a vital role in keeping the body’s systems healthy. Scientists know that antioxidants improve blood flow, specifically to the brain and nervous system. They also reduce cellular stress, and reduce inflammation in the body, both of which have links to diseases, such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

High Fibre – Passion fruit pulp contains a lot of dietary fibre. Fibre is a crucial component of every diet. It helps regulate the digestive system and keep the gut healthy, preventing constipation and bowel disorders. According to the American Heart Association fibre also has benefits in reducing cholesterol and boosting heart health. Most people do not get enough dietary fibre. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s most recent dietary guidelines, the recommended intake is 34g for men ages 19–30 and 28 g for women ages 19–30. Eating passion fruit regularly may help to prevent constipation and improve digestion and overall health.

Low GI index – Passion fruit is a tropical fruit that has a low glycemic index (GI) value. This means that it does not cause a steep increase in blood sugar after eating it, making it a good option for people with diabetes. Most fruits have a low GI, though the American Diabetes Association warns that dates, melon, and pineapple have a higher GI. Improves insulin sensitivity – Some research suggests that a compound found in passion fruit seeds could improve a person’s  insulin sensitivity. Improving insulin sensitivity can help reduce the risk of many diseases, including diabetes.

A small-scale 2017 study on humans found that a substance called piceatannol could improve metabolism after animal studies had found the same.

The researchers found that men who were overweight and took 20mg of piceatannol each day for 8 weeks had improved metabolic health, including insulin sensitivity, compared with those who took a placebo.

Boosts the immune system – Passion fruit is rich in vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that helps protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin C boosts the immune system by helping the body absorb more iron from plant-based foods, and may improve the body’s ability to fight off infections in the body.

Supports heart health –  Passion fruit is loaded with heart-healthy potassium and is also low in sodium. Passion fruit, when eaten with the seeds, contains a lot of fibre, which can help to remove excess cholesterol from the inside of blood vessels. A high fibre diet can reduce a person’s risk of heart disease. In addition, eating passion fruit may help improve a person’s blood pressure. Diets low in sodium and rich in potassium help to decrease blood pressure.

Reduces anxiety – Passion fruit contains magnesium, which is an important mineral that scientists have linked with decreased stress and anxiety. A  systematic review from 2017 suggests that magnesium can help people manage their anxiety levels. However, the authors say that the quality of evidence is poor, so researchers need to do further studies. Moreover, passionfruit only contains 5mg of magnesium, which is just 1.1% of the recommended daily consumption of the mineral.

How to prepare passion fruit – To eat a passion fruit raw, cut it in half and use a spoon to remove the pulp from the rind. The rind is not edible. People can eat both the seeds and the pulp, or just the pulp. A person can remove the seeds by pressing the pulp through a strainer or cheesecloth and use the juice in a variety of ways, such as:

  • mixing with water and sugar to make a drink
  • adding the juice to other fruit juices, such as orange or pineapple
  • adding the juice to yogurt with other fruit
  • boiling it into a syrup that a person can make into many other things, such as sauces or desserts
  • making it into a jelly or jam
  • making it into a soft drink or wine

Passion fruit does not respond well to heat preservation and canning, but a person can do it by combining it with other fruits that respond better to this method. People can freeze it for later use.

Disadvantages of passion fruit – For most people, passion fruit is perfectly safe to eat. However, some people with a latex allergy may react to passion fruit. This is called cross-reactivity. This is because there are some proteins in latex that are similar to those in passion fruit. People with a latex allergy should be careful when eating passion fruit until they know whether they also react to the fruit.

Does passion fruit make you sleepy? – Research shows passion fruit can have a sedative effect and may be a good natural option to help a person having a hard time falling asleep.

What is the difference between passion fruit and passion flower?  Passion flowers and passion fruit can be of the same plant. The flower is the reproductive organ of the plant whereas the fruit is the structure containing the seeds. Usually, however, the term passion flower refers to a specific plant within the passiflora family that may have its own medicinal properties, particularly in helping with anxiety, insomnia, and pain.

Cultivating passionfruit is not as challenging as it may seem. The process is simple – select a location that receives ample sunlight, ensure the soil remains adequately damp, and observe as your plant thrives. In no time at all, you will be relishing the health benefits and uniquely sweet and tangy taste of passionfruit harvested directly from your own garden. 

(Sourced from: Medical News Today –
The information was  reviewed
 by Sade Meeks, MS, RD, Nutrition and the article was written by Nicole Galan, RN  on 30 October 2023

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