Tropical, tangy, full of vitamins and health – the passion fruit is an intriguing and mysterious fruit that has a surprising number of health benefits.
Some of these benefits include the ability to prevent cancerous growth, stimulate digestion, boost immune function, improve eyesight, increase skin health, regulate fluid balance in the body, lower blood pressure, boost circulation, and improve bone mineral density. Furthermore, it reduces signs of premature aging, lessens inflammation, improves sleeping habits, and eliminates asthma.
Passion fruit looks a little strange growing on its creeper vine, which can wrap itself around almost any surface and cling on, seeking the sunlight. However, don’t let appearances fool you, this fruit is widely celebrated and eaten around the world, and has been for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. There are more than 500 varieties, and their appearance varies widely. In terms of color, they are usually yellow or dark purple, and look somewhat like a grapefruit. The interior is filled with a firm, juicy meat and an abundance of seeds. It is a popular breakfast food, juice, snack, and flavor additive to salsa, salad, and desserts.
That long list of health benefits commonly attributed to passion fruit is due to the nutrient, mineral, and vitamin content of the fruit, which includes antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, fiber, and protein. The percentages of many of the vitamins and minerals are shockingly high.
Immune System: Since ancient times, passion fruit has been cultivated and enjoyed because of the boost to the immune system that it seemed to provide. This immune strengthening property is due to the presence of vitamin C, carotene, and cryptoxanthin. In fact, a single service of passion fruit has more than 100% of the total required intake of vitamin C for a healthy diet. All of these vitamins act as antioxidants, which scavenge free radicals from the body and neutralize them before they can harm the organ systems and result in conditions like cancer, heart disease, or premature aging.
Digestive Health: Passion fruit is a good source of fiber, and a single serving provides the human body with approximately 98% of its daily requirement. Fiber is an essential component of a healthy diet, since it is the substance that facilitates healthy digestion of food and the regulation of bowel movements. It can reduce signs of constipation by regulating bowel movements, scrubs the blood vessels clean of excess cholesterol, and even prevent gastrointestinal conditions like colorectal cancer.
Cancer Prevention: Passion fruit is also a powerful source of anti-carcinogenic activity in the body. Antioxidants in passion fruit primarily eliminate free radicals, which are known for mutating the DNA of healthy cells into cancerous ones. Passion fruit also contains vitamin A, various flavonoids, and phenolic compounds, all of which have been linked to anti-cancer properties, particularly in terms of oral and lung cancers.
Vitamin-A Content: Vitamin A improves eye health, including the prevention of macular degeneration, cataracts, and night blindness. The high antioxidant content of passion fruit helps in reducing skin wrinkles, and vitamin A specifically functions to boost the health and richness of the skin, and promotes the proper functioning of membranes throughout the body, including the skin, to keep it hydrated and glowing!
Blood Pressure: If you eat one serving of passion fruit each day, you can satisfy 1/4 of your potassium needs immediately. Potassium is a vital mineral in the human body for a number of reasons, one of which is its role as a vasodilator. It relaxes the tension of blood vessels and promotes increased blood flow. This reduces the strain on the heart and increases overall cardiovascular health. Furthermore, potassium is necessary to maintain the proper fluid balance of the body’s cells.
Improved Circulation: When combined with the vasodilating properties of potassium, the high iron and copper content of passion fruit can really make an impact. Iron and copper are both essential components of red blood cell production, so once the RBC count increases and the vessels are dilated, then healthy, oxygenated blood can flow freely to necessary areas of the body, stimulating the metabolic activity in all the organ systems and boosting productivity and efficiency.
Bone Health and Mineral Density: Since passion fruit is such a rich source of minerals like iron, copper, magnesium, and phosphorus, it is a very important fruit for increasing mineral bone density and bone strength. Some of these minerals are integral parts in creating additional bone matter, strengthening existing bone matter, and speeding up repair.
Insomnia: One often overlooked compound in passion fruit is alkaloids, including harman, which functions as a sedative. This compound of passion fruit has been connected to a reduction in restlessness, insomnia, sleeplessness, and nervous anxiety which can keep you from getting a good night’s sleep. So, instead of a glass of warm milk, next time try reaching for a slice of passion fruit and head back to your pillow.
There are no inherent risks of eating passion fruit and its wealth of nutrients, and health benefits take care of most bodily concerns. However, most of the calories of this fruit do come from sugars, so people with diabetes should be careful to not eat it excessively, or at least be aware of your blood sugar levels.