Persimmon | What is Persimmon Fruit | What are the Health Benefits of Persimmon Fruit | Varieties of Persimmon Fruit | Nutritional Value of Persimmon Fruit
A persimmon is the edible fruit of a number of species of trees of the genus Diospyros in the ebony wood family (Ebenaceae). The word Diospyros means “the fruit of the gods” in ancient Greek. The word persimmon is derived from putchamin, pasiminan, or pessamin, from Powhatan, an Algonquian language (related to Blackfoot, Cree and Mohican) of the eastern United States, meaning “a dry fruit”. Persimmons are generally light yellow-orange to dark red-orange in color, and depending on the species, vary in size from 1.5 to 9 cm (0.5 to 4 in) diameter, and may be spherical, acorn-, or pumpkin-shaped. The calyx often remains attached to the fruit after harvesting, but becomes easier to remove as it ripens. They are high in glucose, with a balanced protein profile, and possess various medicinal and chemical uses. While the persimmon fruit is not considered a “common berry” it is in fact a “true berry” by definition.
In general, persimmons that have dark-colored flesh are always sweet and nonastringent and may be eaten before they become too soft. Varieties with light-colored flesh, with the exception of the Fuyu variety, are astringent until they soften. The astringency is due to the presence of a large amount of tannin, the same substance found in tea.
The season for persimmons is October through December, and the peak month is November. Almost all commercial shipments originate in California. The Hachiya is the latgest and handsomest oriental variety grown in this country. As a rule, California produces a seedless variety, but the Hachiya grown in Florida has one or more seeds.
The Hachiya fruit is cone-shaped and terminates in a black point. The skin is a glossy, deep, orange-red and the flesh is deep yellow, astringent until soft, but sweet and rich when ripe. The Tanenashi is the more important variety in the southeastern states. There are many other varieties that are grown commercially.
Good quality fruit is well-shaped, plump, smooth, and highly colored. The skin is unbroken and the stem cap is attached. Ripeness is usually indicated by softness.
Varieties of Persimmon Fruit:
Persimmons trees are broadly classified into two general categories: those that bear “astringent fruit” until they are soft ripe and those that bear “non-astringent” fruits.
Astringent varieties: Eureka, Hachiya, Saijo, Tamopan, Tanenashi, Triumph etc.
Non-astringent varieties: Fuyu (Fuyugaki), Gosho/Giant Fuyu/O’Gosho, Imoto, Izu, Jiro, Maekawajiro, Okugosho, Suruga etc.
What are the Health Benefits of Persimmon Fruit:
* The fruit is low in calories (provides 70 cal/100g) and fats but is rich source of dietary fiber.
* Persimmons contain many health benefiting phyto-nutrients flavonoid poly-phenolic anti-oxidants like catechins and gallocatechins as well as important anti-tumor compound betulinic acid. Catechins are known to have anti-infective, anti-inflammatory and anti-hemorrhagic (prevents bleeding from small blood vessels) properties.
* Fresh permissions contain anti-oxidant compounds like vitamin-A, beta carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin. These compounds functions as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.
* zeaxanthin, an important dietary carotenoid, selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea in the eyes where it is thought to provide antioxidant and protective light-filtering functions; thus, helps prevent “Age related macular disease”(ARMD) in the elderly.
Nutritional Value of Persimmon Fruit
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||293 kJ (70 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||3.6 g|
|Riboflavin (Vit. B2)||2.5 mg (167%)|
|Folate (Vit. B9)||8 μg (2%)|
|Vitamin C||7.5 mg (13%)|
|Calcium>||8 mg (1%)|
|Iron||.15 mg (1%)|
|Sodium||1 mg (0%)|
* The fruits are also very good source of vitamin-C, another powerful antioxidant (especially native Chinese and American persimmons; provide 80% of DRI). Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
* The fruit is good in many valuable B-complex vitamins such as folic acid, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), thiamin…etc. These vitamins acts as co-factors for numerous metabolic enzymatic functions in the body.
* Fresh Persimmon fruits also contain healthy amounts of minerals like potassium, manganese (15% of DRI), copper (12% of DRI) and phosphorus. Manganese is a co-factor for the enzyme superoxide dismutase, which is a very powerful free radical scavenger. Copper is a co-factor for many vital enzymes, including cytochrome c-oxidase and superoxide dismutase (other minerals function as cofactors for this enzyme are manganese and zinc). Copper is also required for the production of red blood cells.
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