Passion fruit is loaded with heart-healthy potassium and is also low in sodium, both of which help to decrease blood pressure.
True to its name, passion fruit, its flowers, and its vines, have inspired researchers around the world to delve into the special properties of this delicious fruit.
Originally cultivated by the Aztecs, who prepared drinks from the fruit, Passiflora was introduced to Europe in 1629 by Spanish Jesuit missionaries in Brazil. The Passiflora genus is estimated to have more than 500 species, most producing fruits that are consumed and used in medicine and industrial processing.
Purple and yellow Passiflora edulis are the most commonly cultivated varieties, but passion fruits also come in red and green. Passion fruits are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Their unique tangy flavor is like a combination of guava, mango, pineapple, and melon. The oval fruit contains a soft pulp with many seeds inside a hard rind.
Passiflora incarnata has long been used in folk medicine. The roots were used in an infusion to treat boils, to draw out inflammation from wounds, to treat ear aches and liver problems, and as a sedative for nervous conditions. TCM prescribes a soup from Passiflora pulp to treat ailments such as cough, hoarseness, constipation, arthralgia, dysentery, and insomnia.
The peel contains high levels of polyphenols, fiber, and trace elements. It has been used in wine and tea, cooking, and medicine. The edible seeds are high in protein and linoleic and oleic oils.
More than 110 phytochemical constituents have been identified
from the different plant parts of Passiflora, among which flavonoids have the highest concentration. These phytochemicals have antioxidant, anti-hypertensive, antitumor, and antidiabetic effects.
Passion fruit is loaded with heart-healthy potassium and is also low in sodium, both of which help to decrease blood pressure. When eaten with the seeds, passion fruit contains a lot of fiber, which can help remove excess cholesterol from inside blood vessels.
Scientists know that antioxidants help protect the nervous system from damage and improve blood flow, specifically to the brain. They can encourage clear thinking and help prevent or reduce symptoms of depression.
The rich antioxidants of passion fruit help reduce cellular stress and inflammation. One study
of the polyphenol piceatannol from Passiflora seed extract found that the extract may be able to help prevent and treat Alzheimer’s.
The vitamin C in passion fruit helps prevent brain cells from becoming damaged, and its magnesium reduces anxiety and stress.
Studies have examined the anti-cancer properties of Passiflora. One 2020 study
in Brazil of mice with cancerous tumors concluded that Passiflora leaf extract has cytotoxic and antitumor properties.
Passiflora incarnata has sedative and relaxing effects, as demonstrated in a study
on mice. The leaves of Passiflora edulis are rich in flavonoids and alkaloids that are beneficial for sleep problems and used as a treatment
for anxiety and insomnia in the United States and Europe.
Passiflora is a good source of fiber, potassium, and iron, which can improve the digestive system and help with regulating bowel movements.
The polyphenols in passion fruit can benefit intestinal health, as reported in a study
evaluating three Columbian passion fruit pulps for their polyphenol activity in preventing chronic intestinal inflammation.
Passiflora’s rich antioxidant content and the vitamins and minerals it contains, especially vitamin A, benefit the eyes. Sight loss conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration might be helped by eating this fruit.
Skin and Hair
The vitamins A, B6, and B2 and potassium in Passiflora are essential for skin care, including preventing and repairing skin cells from aging. These nutrients also help grow strong, healthy hair by improving circulation to the scalp.
The calcium and phosphorous in Passiflora are known to help repair and strengthen damaged bone cells, thus helping prevent osteoporosis.
Passiflora’s low glycemic index and high fiber content help maintain insulin levels in diabetics and improve insulin sensitivity. Some research
suggests that the polyphenol piceatannol found in passion fruit seeds may be associated with protection against insulin resistance.
Tips for Eating
Eat the pulp, seeds and all, or add to cakes, pies, tarts, fruit toppings, or other desserts. Remove the seeds by pressing the pulp through a strainer or cheesecloth. Use the juice or freeze for later. Add the liquid to water and sugar to make a drink, combine it with orange or pineapple juice, add it to yogurt with other fruit, boil it into a syrup, or make it into a jelly or jam.