Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is an exotic sweet fruit packed with vital nutrients, antioxidants, and flavonoids. It is also called Chinese plum and is native to China.
Loquat is a round or pear-shaped fruit with yellow skin. It tastes similar to apricots or cherries. It is mainly consumed raw and is also processed to prepare jams, jellies, and juice.
The leaves, seeds, and the fruit of the loquat plant are packed with many medicinal attributes. Loquats may help promote heart health, reduce the risk of cancer, and prevent diabetes.
In this article, we have listed the incredible health benefits, nutrition facts, recipes, and potential side effects of the loquat fruit. Read on.
Table Of Contents
What Are The Benefits Of Loquat Fruit?
1. Promotes Heart Health
Loquat is rich in potassium. The mineral acts as a vasodilator and reduces strain on the blood vessels (1). Potassium may also lower the blood pressure and protect the heart (2). The magnesium in the fruit is also essential for regulating blood pressure and boosting cardiac function (3).
The phenolic compounds in loquats may prevent cellular damage and reduce inflammation, thus improving heart health (4), (5). They exhibit antioxidant properties that may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
2. May Reduce The Risk Of Cancer
Animal studies state that extracts of leaves and seeds of loquat possess anti-cancer properties (9), (10). Methanol extracts of loquat were found to help prevent the spread of human breast cancer cells (11).
A study conducted by Okayama University found that polyphenols showed cytotoxic activity against human oral tumor cell lines (12). Loquats contain chlorogenic acid that may suppress cancer growth (9), (13). The acid prevents the spread of human colon cancer cells and leads to their death (14).
Loquats contain beta-carotene. A study conducted by the Zhengzhou University found that beta-carotene might have anti-tumor effects (15).
3. Helps Treat Diabetes
Research shows that the extracts of loquat leaves and seeds may have an anti-diabetic activity. They may help in the control and prevention of type 1 and 2 diabetes (9). In a study conducted by the Central Taiwan University of Science and Technology on mice, loquat could lower blood sugar levels (16).
Another study conducted by the Siebold University of Nagasaki on rats and mice found that loquat seeds exhibited hypoglycemic activity (17).
4. May Offer Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Loquats possess anti-inflammatory properties. Diseases such as cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disorders are associated with inflammation (18), (19). Loquat juice was found to have preventive effects on inflammation (20).
In mice studies, fruit extracts of loquats were found to reduce inflammation caused by a high-fructose diet (21). More long-term research is needed to understand the effects of loquat on inflammation.
5. May Reduce Blood Cholesterol Levels
Loquat contains pectin, a type of fibre that may lower cholesterol levels. A study conducted by Maastricht University found that pectin reduces total cholesterol concentrations in humans (22). However, limited research is available in this regard.
6. May Reduce Memory Impairment And Neurological Stress
Loquat extracts reduce memory impairment and help prevent neurological stress. The carotenoid antioxidants in loquat combat the oxidative stress caused by free radicals. A study conducted by the Yonsei University College of Medicine found that loquat had neuroprotective effects. The fruit may act against memory impairment and oxidative stress (23).
7. Aids Digestion
The leaves of loquat are often used for soothing the digestive system (24). The pectin in loquat can act as a digestive aid. A study conducted by the Shiga University of Medical Science on rats found that pectin might increase the amount of intestinal mucosa (25), (26). Dietary fibre can stimulate peristaltic motion (wave-like contractions) and promote regularity of bowel movements.
In the following section, we have extensively covered the nutritional profile of loquat.
Loquat Nutrition Facts
Loquat is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates. It also contains monounsaturated fats like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The fruit is also low in cholesterol and calories as it hardly contains any lipids. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one cup (149 grams) of loquats contains (27):
- Energy: 70 kcal
- Protein: 0.641 g
- Carbohydrate: 18 g
- Fiber: 2.53 g
- Calcium: 23.8 mg
- Folate: 20.9 mg
Additionally, loquats contain small amounts of vitamin B1, vitamin C, vitamin A, riboflavin, copper, iron, calcium, and phosphorus.
These promising benefits and nutrition facts of loquat may have left you wondering how to have it. Check out the next section to know more.
How To Eat Loquat
You can consume the fruit in different ways. We have included a couple of simple recipes.
- 2 to4-inch loquat leaves
- 2cups of water
- Mince the leaves and combine them with the water.
- Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, cover, and let the tea steep for 10 minutes.
- Strain and serve hot; or allow to cool and serve iced.
- You can also enjoy as a hot toddy by adding bourbon and a thinly sliced round of lemon.
- 10 loquats
- 1 glass of water
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- A pinch of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black salt (optional)
- Peel the skin of loquats and discard the seeds. Add all the ingredients in a blender.
- Blend for a few minutes.
- Add ice and blend for a few more seconds.
- Serve immediately.
Though loquat is generally safe for consumption, it does have a few side effects that you need to keep in mind. Check them out in the following section.
What Are The Side Effects Of Loquat?
Excess consumption of loquat may cause toxic myopathy. Limited information is available to conclude if the fruit may have any other side effects.
In a study, a patient with hypertriglyceridemia (high levels of triglycerides) who had ingested 2 litres of loquat leaf tea in two weeks saw a remarkable decrease in triglyceride levels. However, he also experienced inflammatory myopathy (a muscle disease leading to muscle weakness) (28).
No other documented adverse effects have been identified yet.
Loquats are low-calorie and highly nutritious fruits with many health benefits. They contain several plant compounds, vitamins, and minerals. Loquats may help promote heart health, have anti-cancer properties, and may also prevent diabetes.
However, excess intake of loquat may cause toxic myopathy (a disease of the muscles). Take precautions. If you have any related ailments, talk to your doctor before consuming the fruit.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Are loquat leaves poisonous?
The young leaves of the loquat could be slightly poisonous. They contain cyanogenic glycosides that release cyanide into the system upon digestion.
Can you be allergic to loquat fruit?
Loquat fruit may cause allergies in some people. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove this point.
Are loquat seeds edible?
No, the seeds and young leaves of the loquat are not edible. They could be slightly poisonous due to the presence of glycosides. They are unsuitable for human consumption.
How do you know when a loquat is ripe?
A ripe loquat has a yellow-orange color at the top of its stem with no green. The loquat fruit needs to ripen on the tree itself.
What do loquats taste like?
The fruit tastes sweet when ripe and the flavour is a blend of citrus, plum, and apricot.
Should loquats be refrigerated?
If you want to store them longer then they should be refrigerated.
Are loquats related to mangoes?
No, loquats are not related to mangoes.
Can you eat loquat skin?
Yes, you can eat the loquat fruit skins.
What is the difference between kumquats and loquats?
While loquats belong to the family as apples, pears, and peaches, kumquats belong to the orange family.
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