The persimmon, which is indigenous to China, was also known as the “Apple of the Orient.” It was then used frequently in Japanese cooking and is currently grown all over the world.
A large, round, juicy berry with a smooth, thin peel that can range in color from yellow to orange to red, it is actually not a fruit. Persimmons have an extremely sweet flavor when mature, and some of their flesh may become brown.
Astringent and non-astringent varieties are available, and while the former is inedible while firm because it is high in tannin before it softens, the latter loses the tannin more quickly.
You can eat persimmons raw, juiced, or you can puree them and add them to smoothies.
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They are highly nutritious, and are an excellent source of some rare phytonutrients:
- Cryptoxanthin, which provides their brilliant orange color
- beta carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin, which prevent free radical damage and the development of cancer
- betulinic acid, which is an anti-tumor compound
- catechins, and gallocatechin, which have potent anti-inflammatory and anti-hemorrhagic properties
Persimmon is also abundant in potassium, iron, copper, calcium, manganese, and phosphorus, as well as vitamins A, C, and B vitamins.
According to Rachael Link, MS, RD, “one raw persimmon fruit contains approximately:
- 118 calories
- 31.2 grams carbohydrates
- 1 gram protein
- 0.3 gram fat
- 6 grams fiber
- 2,733 international units vitamin A (55 percent DV)
- 0.6 milligram manganese (30 percent DV)
- 12.6 milligrams vitamin C (21 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligram copper (9 percent DV)
- 270 milligrams potassium (8 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligram vitamin B6 (8 percent DV)
- 1.2 milligrams vitamin E (6 percent DV)
- 4.4 micrograms vitamin K (5 percent DV)
In addition to the nutrients above, persimmon fruit also contains some magnesium, thiamine, folate and phosphorus.”
Here are some of its health benefits:
- Persimmon has natural diuretic properties, due to the high calcium and potassium levels, and is recommended in the case of water retention
- It is an energy-dense food recommended for children and physically active people
- Since it is abundant in potassium and sugars, it relieves the symptoms of stress, tiredness, and fatigue
- It is high in vitamin C, which strengthens the immune system, and relieves the symptoms of colds and the flu, infections, and inflammation
- Persimmon is rich in water and fiber, so its laxative effects relieve constipation
- Its numerous antioxidants detoxify the body and cleanse the liver, neutralize toxins and prevent damage due to free radicals
- It lowers high blood pressure and prevents many heart conditions linked to hypertension
“Persimmons can be found at many grocery stores and farmers markets. They are also widely available at specialty Asian markets, often at a more affordable price.
Look for persimmons starting in October, which is when the persimmon season typically begins. They can usually be found through most of the winter and are often available well into January.”
Make sure your persimmons are ripe and soft before eating them, and only eat them solid if you are confident they are of the non-astringent variety. To quicken their ripening, keep them at room temperature.
Eat the pulp by halves the fruit, removing the skin, and doing so. Persimmons can also be used to create mouthwatering creams, jams, smoothies, sauces, and jellies. Enjoy!