Tuesday, January 1, 2013

PERSIMMON FRUIT

Persimmon fruit nutrition facts

Sweet, delicious persimmon fruits are rich in health promoting nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants that are vital for optimum health. Botanically, the fruit belongs to the family of Ebenaceae of the genus: Diospyros. Scientific name: Diospyros virginiana.
This delicate oriental fruit is native to China. It spread to Japan very long ago and later was introduced to California during the middle of nineteenth century.

Persimmon tree with fruit.
(Diospyros virginiana)
Photo: by Takekaju)
persimmon persimmon fruit slices

Delicious Persimmon slices.


Persimmon is a multi-trunked or single-stemmed deciduous tree, which grows up to 25 ft. in height. They grow best in areas that have moderate winters and relatively mild summers.
Persimmon trees classified broadly into two general categories: those that bear "astringent fruit" (whilst unripe) and those that bear "non-astringent" fruits. An astringent cultivar, which is commonly cultivated in Japan known as “Hachiya,” is high in tannins and must be allowed to ripen fully until it attains jelly-soft consistency before fit to eat. A non-astringent persimmon, on the other hand, contains less tannin and can be eaten while it is crispy as in apples. Astringency can be removed by treating the fruit with carbon dioxide or alcohol.
During each season, the tree bears numerous fruits that vary by cultivar from spherical to heart to flatten or squash in shape. They also greatly vary in size from as little as a few ounces to more than a pound. The color of the fruit varies from light yellow-orange to dark orange-red. The entire fruit is edible except for the seed and calyx.

Astringent persimmons.
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.
perimmons fruits

Health benefits of persimmon fruit

  • The fruit is low in calories (provides 70 calories/100g) and fats but is rich source of dietary fiber.
  • Persimmons contain 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 persimmons contain anti-oxidant compounds like vitamin-A, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, zea-xanthin and cryptoxanthin. Together, 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.
  • Zea-xanthin, 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 related macular disease"(ARMD) in the elderly.
  • They are also a 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 the 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 act 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.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Persimmon fruit (Diospyros virginiana),
Japanese, fresh,
Nutrition Value per 100 g
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 70 Kcal 3.5%
Carbohydrates 18.59 g 14%
Protein 0.58 g 1%
TotalFat 0.19g 1%
Cholesterol 0 g 0%
Dietary Fiber 3.6 g 9.5%
Vitamins

Choline 7.6 mg 1.5%
Folates 8 µg 2%
Niacin 0.100 mg 1%
Pyridoxine 0.100 mg 7.5%
Riboflavin 0.020 mg 1.5%
Thiamin 0.030 mg 2.5%
Vitamin C 7.5 mg 12.5%
Vitamin A 81 IU 3%
Vitamin E 0.73 mg 5%
Vitamin K 2.6 µg 2%
Electrolytes

Sodium 1 mg 0%
Potassium 161 mg 2.5%
Minerals

Calcium 8 mg 0.8%
Copper 0.113 mg 12.5%
Iron 0.15 mg 2%
Magnesium 9 mg 2%
Manganese 0.355 mg 15%
Phosphorus 17 mg 4.5%
Zinc 0.11 mg 1%
Phyto-nutrients

Carotene-α 0 µg --
Carotene-β 253 µg --
Crypto-xanthin-β 1447 µg --
Lutein-zeaxanthin 834 µg --
Lycopene 159 µg -

Selection and storage

Astringent variety persimmon fruits generally harvested when they are hard but fully matured. Non-astringent persimmons are ready for harvesting when they reach full-colored, and slightly soft in consistency. Astringent persimmons usually continue to ripen at room temperature. Both kinds of persimmons should be plucked from the tree using hand-held pruning shears (as in mango), leaving the calyx intact, unless the fruit is to be used for drying while taking care not to bruise.
In the stores, select fresh fruits featuring bright yellow-orange color without any surface bruises or cuts on them. "Dried persimmons" are also available readily in the supermarkets and feature many similarities with dried-apricots.
Mature, hard astringent persimmons can be stored in the refrigerator for several months. Non-astringent varieties have short shelf life and can be stored for only a few days at room temperature.

Preparation and serving methods

Persimmons can be eaten fresh, dried, or cooked. Raw fruits can be cut into quarters or eaten wholesome like an apple. Their flavor ranges from a firm to mushy and is very sweet.
Here are some serving tips:
  • Dried persimmon fruits can be used in cookies, cakes, puddings, salads and as a topping for breakfast cereal.
  • Persimmon fruit pudding is a popular dessert which uses fresh fruits.
  • Dried fruits are also used as snacks or used in desserts. They are used widely to make the traditional Korean spicy recipe, sujeonggwa, while the matured, fermented fruit is used to make persimmon vinegar called "gamsikcho"

Safety profile

Ripe persimmon fruits are safe for human consumption, including in the pregnant women. Allergic reactions to the fruit are very rare. (Medical disclaimer).


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