16/07/2024

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Benefits and Tips on Finding Them

Benefits and Tips on Finding Them

You may not find loquat in a regular grocery store

Medically reviewed by Karina Tolentino, RD

Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is a fruit grown on a tree native to China. It is now grown in warm climates around the world and is popular for its sweet fruit and health benefits.

This article will discuss loquat’s nutrition facts, various health benefits, and how to prepare the fruit.

<p>BLK_Design / Getty Images</p>

BLK_Design / Getty Images

Loquat Nutrition Facts and Compounds

Loquats grow on fruit trees that originated in southern China. They have been grown for over 2,000 years and are now found in over 30 countries.

Fully ripe loquats are orange but can range from yellow to red in color. The fruit is popular due to its sweet, juicy taste, pleasant appearance, and high nutrient value. Loquats are a nutritious fruit, low in calories, and contain many vitamins and minerals.

One cup of cut-up raw loquat contains:

Loquat vs. Kumquat

Although they have similar names and both are small yellow-to-orange fruits, loquat and kumquat are different. Loquat is in the Rosaceae (rose) family, as are apples, pears, and peaches. Kumquats are a citrus fruit in the Rutaceae family.

Loquat Fruit Compounds

One of the primary reasons loquats are so popular is their vitamin and mineral content. Vitamins and minerals found in 1 cup of loquat are:

Loquats provide carotenoid antioxidants. These compounds are responsible for the coloring of the fruit. In lists of nutrients, these are noted as “retinol activity equivalents” (RAE) since they are converted to vitamin A in the body.

Carotenoids can fight damage by free radicals (harmful, unstable molecules created during energy production in cells) and protect against disease.

Loquat Benefits

Loquats are nutritious fruits that have several health benefits. In addition, extracts from its leaves and seeds have been used in traditional medicine and are being explored for possible health benefits.

Anti-Inflammatory

Loquats have been studied for the many ways they can decrease inflammation in the body.

Inflammation is a normal part of the body’s healing process. But when inflammation does not go away, it can become chronic. Chronic inflammation is considered a contributing factor to more than half of the deaths throughout the world.

A 2020 study looked at how triterpene acids, a compound that was separated from loquat leaves, reduced inflammation in those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) from cigarette smoke.

A review from 2016 found that loquat leaf extract had anti-inflammatory effects. The review gave several examples, including less lung inflammation and improvement in allergic dermatitis. Many of the studies included in the review used animal subjects. More research is needed on humans.

The belief behind loquat’s anti-inflammatory effects is likely due to its high antioxidant content.

Antidiabetic

Several studies discuss how loquat may improve blood glucose and have an antidiabetic effect. Research has looked at how loquat leaf and seed extracts can lower blood glucose for those with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

A 2019 animal study showed extracts from the loquat leaf could improve glucose, hyperlipidemia (high levels of lipids like cholesterol and triglycerides), and insulin resistance (when cells in the body don’t respond well to insulin and can’t take up glucose from the blood, requiring the pancreas to make more insulin). The results are promising, but more research is needed involving humans.

A 2016 review discussed how loquat leaf extracts were used in traditional folk medicine. It covered many studies showing loquat’s glucose-lowering properties and improved insulin resistance. However, many of the studies referenced used animal subjects.

Anticancer

One of loquat’s potential benefits is its ability to protect against cancer. A 2016 study found that loquat leaf extract inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells in animal subjects.

A 2017 study found the loquat fruit skin inhibited the growth of bladder cancer cells.

Loquat fruit is high in vitamin A and beta-carotene, which may lower the risk of certain cancers. More research is needed to endorse loquat’s use to protect against cancer.

Antioxidant

Free radicals cause harm within the body as they interact with other molecules, damaging them through the process of oxidation and causing oxidative stress (an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants). This can contribute to chronic health conditions like cancer and cardiovascular problems. Antioxidants are molecules that can protect the body from free radical damage.

Loquats contain a high number of antioxidants due to the beta-carotene content within the fruit.

Research points toward the antioxidant benefits of loquats, but more research is needed to confirm the findings.

Cultural Uses of Loquat

The Compendium of Materia Medica, a book written before the 16th century that contains traditional Chinese medicine, describes loquat’s origin, cultivation methods, and medicinal value. The fruit has been used to treat cough, bronchitis, diabetes, and inflammation.

Should Anyone Not Eat Loquat?

Loquat is generally considered a safe fruit to eat. Intact seeds are generally not a hazard, but the kernel inside the seed contains the poisonous compound cyanogenic glycoside. People should avoid eating a large quantity of cracked seeds.

There is one older study from 2004 discussing a person who developed toxic myopathy (muscle damage) after drinking 2 liters (about 2 quarts) of loquat leaf extract per day for two weeks.

If you think you are sensitive or allergic to loquat, don’t eat it again until you contact a healthcare provider.

Finding, Slicing, and Preparing Loquat

Loquats are grown in warmer (subtropical) climates and may be found at local grocery stores or farmers markets.

In most parts of the United States, the trees are grown as an ornamental since the fruit does not develop enough sugar for it to be palatable when eaten raw. In Florida, the fruit may ripen enough to be harvested.

In colder climates, loquats may be more difficult to find but may be found in specialty grocery stores. Look for ripe loquats that are yellow to orange in color. The fruit should be firm but slightly soft when pressed.

Loquats can be eaten raw. Many people prefer to peel away the skin, slice up the fruit, and remove the seeds. The fruit can then be eaten as is. Ways to incorporate loquat into everyday meals include:

  • Fresh, cut up into a salad

  • Fresh, cut up with yogurt and granola

  • Add into a smoothie

  • Baked into a jam or pie

  • Dehydrated or dried

Summary

Loquat is a fruit grown in warm climates that has a yellow- to orange-colored skin. The inside fruit is sweet and is popular not only for its delicious taste but also for its health benefits. Many of its health benefits stem from its high levels of beta-carotene. Loquat can be eaten peeled, with seeds removed, and cut up in a salad or blended into a smoothie.

Read the original article on Verywell Health.