Passiflora edulis commonly known as Passion Fruit comes from a flowering tropical vine, known as Passiflora (Passionflower). Passion fruit is considered a tropical fruit because it is largely cultivated in Hawaii, Australia, Brazil, South Africa, and Colombia. However, this exotic fruit is native to southern Brazil through Paraguay and northern Argentina.
Passion fruit comes in many varieties, the purple and yellow variants being the most commonly available ones. The purple passion fruit which is more common is a small oval-shaped fruit with inedible hard skin. It looks like a plum until it is cut in half. Inside, it is filled with a seedy yellow pulp that tastes sweet and tart. Passion fruit has a distinct sweet smell which adds to the appeal of the fruit. In this article, we look at the nutritional profile of passion fruit and the possible health benefits you can gain from eating it as part of a plant-based diet.
Passion fruit has a healthful nutrition profile. It contains key nutrients such as Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. Both are antioxidants that boost the immune system, promote vision, and improve skin health. The purple fruit contains beta carotene and polyphenols. Polyphenols are proven to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Research shows that passion fruit contains more polyphenols when compared to other tropical fruits such as mango, banana, and lychee.
One passion fruit without the rind contains the following nutrients:
Passion fruit is rich in dietary fiber and low in calories, a good combination for the digestive system. It also contains a small amount of iron which when combined with its vitamin C content, promotes cardiovascular health. Below are some of the health benefits of passion fruit.
Despite its small size, a single Passion fruit provides almost 2 grams of fiber. Soluble fiber aids the digestion of food and prevents constipation. Fiber-rich diets are known to improve gut health and prevent blood sugar spikes. Also, the more dietary fiber you consume, the lower your risk of developing diabetes and heart diseases. Dietary fiber removes the excess cholesterol in your arteries and blood vessels. Moreover, the soluble fiber in passion fruit detoxifies the body and removes waste materials from the colon. This effect reduces the risk of colon cancer.
Passion fruit may help people dealing with diabetes. Piceatannol is a compound found in passion fruit. Some research suggests that piceatannol can lower cholesterol levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Some benefits of improved insulin sensitivity include a lower risk of diabetes and heart diseases. Also, piceatannol may help reduce blood sugar in diabetes patients.
High blood pressure is known to be a risk factor for heart attacks and stroke. Passion fruit contains alkaloids that regulate blood pressure and has antispasmodic benefits. Potassium is another compound that is beneficial to blood pressure. Potassium reduces sodium in the blood, relaxes the blood vessels, and improves blood flow. A hundred gram serving of passion fruit provides 348 mg of potassium.
Passion fruit may help reduce anxiety as it is rich in magnesium, a mineral associated with decreased anxiety and improved sleep quality. The medicinal alkaloids and phytonutrients in the fruits also reduce restlessness and relieve anxiety. It is unsurprising that passion fruit has stress-relieving compounds as passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) was originally used as a calming herb for anxiety, sleeplessness, convulsions, and hysteria in the Americas and later in Europe. It's still being used to treat anxiety and sleeplessness today.
Passion fruit is rich in immune-boosting antioxidants including Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and alpha-carotene. These antioxidants prevent oxidative stress and cell damage by neutralizing free radicals in the body. Vitamin C stimulates white blood cell activity and boosts other parts of the immune system. This antioxidant also increases resistance to the common cold, influenza, and other illnesses.
Passion fruit contains nutrients that benefit cognitive health. Some of these nutrients are Vitamin B-9 (folate) and potassium. The tropical fruit is also rich in antioxidants that may provide neurological benefits. Vitamin B-9 is associated with reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline, while potassium improves blood flow to the brain.
Passion fruit may not have the appearance of a typical fruit but it is a nutrient powerhouse. The tropical fruit is a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and fiber. Like most fruits, passion fruit is very low in calories yet high in antioxidants. This combination of nutrients makes it beneficial to the digestive system, the heart, and the brain. Passion fruit can be eaten fresh by scooping the yellow juice and eating it raw or pureed and mixed with other fruits to make smoothies. Any way you choose to enjoy this exotic fruit, you are sure to gain some key nutrients and health benefits.