Loquat has a number of health benefits, including the ability to prevent diabetes, lower cholesterol levels, reduce cancer risk, protect bone mineral density, improve gastrointestinal health, aid vision, strengthen the immune system, soothe the respiratory tract, boost circulation, and decrease blood pressure.
What is a Loquat?
If you’ve ever been walking through south-central China and stumbled across a small evergreen shrub or tree with bright orange fruit, then perhaps you’re familiar with loquat. Scientifically called Eriobotrya japonica, the loquat is also known by other names such as Chinese plum, Japanese plum, Japanese medlar, Pipa, Nispero, and Maltese plum.
Pear-shaped and slightly larger than a plum, the fruits can have yellow or orange skin, sometimes with a red blush. The tangy flesh of the fruit is white, yellow or orange with brown seeds. The taste of the loquat fruit has been compared to a cross between mango and peach. It can be eaten either fresh or in dried form. The brightly colored, blemish-free ones are juicy as compared to the greenish ones which are sour and acidic.
Being one of the first fruits to be cultivated in the Asian continent, it is native to China but was naturalized in Japan more than a millennium ago. There are two main cultivated varieties of loquat: Chinese and Japanese. In East Asia, there are said to be over 800 varieties. Today, it is cultivated in many parts of the world.
Loquat Nutrition Facts
The loquat fruit and leaves include pectin (fiber), vitamin A, vitamin C, and B-complex vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, folates, and folic acid, which make it very effective for boosting overall human health. Loquats are also an excellent source of minerals like iron, calcium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and selenium. Low in cholesterol and calories, loquats contains monounsaturated fats like omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids.
Health Benefits of Loquat
Let’s take a closer look at the many health benefits of loquat.
Lowers Blood Pressure
One of the many nutrients found in good supply in loquat is potassium, which acts as a vasodilator for the cardiovascular system. By reducing the strain and pressure on the blood vessels and arteries, potassium is able to lower blood pressure and protect heart health. Potassium is often considered a brain booster, due to the increased flow of blood to the capillaries of the brain, which can improve cognition.
Loquat tea is often suggested for preventing or treating diabetes, as blood sugar has been shown to significantly reduce in those who regularly ingest it. The unique organic compounds found in loquat tea are able to regulate the insulin and glucose levels, which helps protects against diabetes. Also, for those suffering from diabetes, avoiding spikes and drops in blood sugar is crucial, which this tea can help with.
Lowers Cancer Risk
Antioxidants like laetrile and corosolic acid neutralize free radicals within the body that can cause healthy cells to mutate, leading to chronic disease, including cancer. Loquat tea has specifically been linked to lower occurrence rates of lung and oral cancers.
Soothes Respiratory System
Expectorant substances are important in the treatment of colds and other respiratory infections. Loquat tea is used as an expectorant, either when drunk or gargled, as it can cause coughing and through that, the expulsion of mucus and phlegm. This is where bacteria can live and grow, while also exacerbating other symptoms, so eliminating these toxic substances from your respiratory tract can help you feel better fast.
Loquat is a wonderful source of vitamin C, which helps stimulate the production of white blood cells, the body’s first line of defense against pathogens, and also works as an antioxidant to prevent chronic illness. Furthermore, vitamin C is needed for the production of collagen, which aids growth and repair of tissues throughout the body. The loquat leaf also produces acids containing antigens like megastigmane glycosides and polyphenolic compounds, which act as antiviral agents. Triterpene compounds help destroy rhinovirus, which causes the common cold.
Aids in Digestion and Weight Loss
Pectin is a particular type of dietary fiber found in loquat fruit, and it is often praised as a digestive aid. Dietary fiber can bulk up the stool and stimulate peristaltic motion, which helps with the regularity of bowel movements. If you suffer from constipation, diarrhea, cramping, bloating, or other stomach disorders, dietary fiber can ease that inflammation and improve the health of your gut. Eating more fiber can also keep you full for longer, stopping those hunger pangs that make you overeat.
Protects the Brain
Controls Cholesterol Levels
Although the precise mechanism isn’t fully understood, research has directly linked loquat with lower cholesterol levels in subjects who regularly consumed the fruit and tea. This health benefit of loquat is very exciting, but also relatively unproven on a large scale, and studies to find out more are ongoing.
Losing bone mineral density is a major problem for many people as they age, particularly for women following menopause. Fortunately, loquat has been shown to prevent bone density loss in various parts of the body, owing to its rich mixture of vitamins, nutrients, and hormone-mimicking chemical components.
Regulates Circulatory System
High iron levels in a person’s diet are important if they want to avoid anemia and its brutal symptoms. Iron is found in high concentrations within loquat, which is good news for your red blood cells. Iron is a necessary part of hemoglobin, which transports oxygenated red blood cells throughout the body, thus boosting circulation. This can speed healing, increase energy, and ensure that all your organ systems are working at full capacity!
Word of Caution
- When we consume anything in high volumes, it can be toxic for one reason or another, but when you consume too much loquat leaf extract (a concentrated form occasionally sold in health food stores or naturally derived), a strange thing happens. People have reported toxic myopathy as a result, which consists of weakness and non-specific pain.
- The seeds of the loquat fruit contain toxic substances and can be life-threatening if consumed.
- Consume loquat and its products in moderation.