What Are Persimmons Good For?
Botanical name: Diospyros kaki L.
It's too bad Americans aren't more familiar with persimmons, since the Latin word for it means “food of the gods.” A fruit most often grown in warm, dry climates, those found in larger grocery stores are most likely Japanese persimmons. Persimmon is Japan's national fruit and that's where it originated (American persimmons are mostly ornamental).
Persimmon seeds first came to the United States when Commodore Perry sent them from Japan in 1856. Today, persimmons are grown in a plethora of varieties in China, Burma, Northern India, and Australia; in the US, it grows in Southern and Southwestern states, predominantly California.
Persimmons are red-brown or orange fruits that grow on trees like plums and look like a small, rather flat tomato capped by a calyx. The two varieties are stringent and non-astringent, the latter being pleasingly sweet. To avoid bitterness, the paler varieties should be eaten only when very ripe, usually peeled.
Health Benefits of Persimmons
Once again, vitamin A shows itself to be a powerhouse in nutrition, offering 55% of the daily value in the persimmon. Vitamin C runs a close second with 21%, plus excellent amounts of manganese, a co-factor for the enzyme superoxide dismutase, for healthy mucous membranes and skin, as well as a known protectant against lung and mouth cancers.
Persimmons are an excellent source of fiber, which helps keep the body regulated. B-complex vitamins are present to stabilize the metabolic system, along with copper and phosphorus.
Low in calories and fats, this little fruit contains all kinds of phytonutrients, flavonoids, and antioxidants, such as catechins (known to have antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties, and for protecting small blood vessels from bleeding) as well as gallocatechins and betulinic acid, a tumor inhibitor. Other powerful antioxidants found in persimmons include beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and cryptoxanthin. The zeaxanthin content absorbs into the eyes and helps filter light.
However, consume persimmon in moderation because it contains fructose, which may be harmful to your health in excessive amounts.
Persimmon Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: One raw Japanese persimmon (2 ½ inches in diameter / 168 grams)
Amt. Per Serving
Studies Done on Persimmon
Persimmons are one of a few foods associated with killing breast cancer cells without harming normal breast cells, according to one new study. Scientists attributed this to the flavonoid fisetin, present in several fruits and vegetables, but in persimmons specifically. Fisetin also has been named as a significant contributor in the programmed eradication of colon and prostate cancer cells1.
Persimmon Healthy Recipes: Persimmon and Goat Cheese Salad
- 6 cups greens (mixed, any style)
- 1 Fuyu persimmon, diced
- 1 small apple, diced
- 1/2 cup soft goat cheese, crumbled
- 3 Tbsps sliced almonds, toasted
- 4 Tbsps. tangerine juice
- 2 Tbsps olive oil
- 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 dashes pepper
- Place the greens in a salad bowl and top with the fruits and goat cheese.
- In a small bowl, whisk tangerine juice, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk in olive oil in a small stream. Adjust to taste. Combine with greens and toss. Sprinkle almonds over all. Serve.
Persimmon Fun Facts
Regarding persimmons, in 1607 Captain John Smith wrote from Jamestown that: "The fruit is like a medlar; it is first green, then yellow and red when it is ripe: if it is not ripe, it will drive a man's mouth awrie with much torment, but when it is ripe, it is as delicious as the apricock."
Often misunderstood in the US, the persimmon is a fruit of many varieties. Known as either astringent or non-astringent, it's important, before eating, to know which variety you have before taking a bite. At worst, you'll have an extremely bitter moment, not the least of which you'll know you should have waited; at best, you may fall in love with the delectably delicious fruit.
Hachiya persimmons are creamy and great for baking, while the Fuyu is good peeled and enjoyed raw. No matter how you eat them, they're another fruit with amazingly effective antioxidant capabilities, with powerful vitamins thrown in for extra health.