In the last ten years or so, many exotic fruits and related products have suddenly hit the marketplace. Thanks to the MasterChef series and other popular programs, such exotic produce is slowly becoming common in our kitchen. Among many others, passion fruit is one such ingredient found today in desserts, jus, jellies, squashes, and other preparations. It is also used as a flavouring component in ice-creams. Its unique aroma and taste is used to enhance simple salads and dips too.
What is passion fruit?
Passion fruit is the by-product of a group of plant species in the genus Passiflora. Belonging to the family Passifloraceae, the genus is called Passiflora in Latin and it translates into Passion fruit. The name came about when the missionaries of Brazil coined it as a tool for teaching people about Christianity.
About the superfood:
Passion fruits are mostly round but they also come in an oval shape. They come in varied colours such as red, purple, yellow, and green. Soft, glossy yet firm from the outside with an orange-yellow inside that is aromatic, juicy, and filled with several crunchy fibre-rich seeds.
This fruit is loaded with nutrition. The superfruit has cancer-preventing properties and is packed with vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. It’s also high in fibre and is considered an instant energy booster.
This tropical fruit is native to Central America, Mexico, Brazil, and is also cultivated in the West Indies. Here in India, passion fruit is grown in some parts of the hilly regions of Nilgiri, Karnataka, and North-Eastern states like Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, and so on. Yellow and purple varieties of passion fruit are more commonly found in most countries.
The purple coloured passion fruit grows on perennial vines which are on long stems and are always green. The green fruits mature into a wrinkled purple ripe one. Once fully ripe they fall from the vine.
The yellow variety grows almost in the same way but the growth is quicker. Slightly larger than the purple one, the juice of the yellow passion fruit has a hint of acidity.
As it is a tropical fruit only the purple coloured passion fruit vines can endure a cold climate, but just a little. Extreme winter or even heat damages such plants.
Passion fruit should be planted during the onset of the monsoon. They need 100 cm to 200 cm of rain. Passion fruit can be grown on many soil types but sandy loams, light to heavy are most suitable. It has a pH of about 6 and above.
As a precaution green unripe passion fruit should not be consumed as they could lead to toxicity.
Passion fruit has an excellent nutritional profile. It includes within it loads of antioxidants and vitamin C, particularly beta carotene and polyphenols. Polyphenols are plant compounds that have a range of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. It also contains essential minerals such as potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and flavonoids.
As mentioned before the fruit contains impressive levels of vitamins A and C making it great for skin, vision, and the immune system. It is also rich in dietary fibre which keeps your gut clean.
Boosts your immunity: The powerful combo of vitamin C, carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin protects the body from heart disease. The phenolic agent in the fruit has powerful anti-cancer properties.
Remedy for insomnia: An amazing medicinal property that this fruit contains is that it works as a sedative. It reduces restlessness and insomnia. However, overeating passion fruit can make you lethargic.
Good for Eye Health: Passion fruit is packed with vitamin A that prevents age-related eye degeneration, cataract and night blindness.
Super for diabetics: It is low on the glycemic index. Hence, passion fruit is a preferred choice for diabetics.
Rich in fibre: Great for weight watchers as pectin, the soluble fibre, keeps one feeling full and thus decreases one from overeating. The fibre also keeps the gut health in top condition reducing the risk of colon cancer.
Glowing skin: Good to keep acne and wrinkles away as it is an excellent source of antioxidants like vitamin A, C, carotene, riboflavin. Eat it or use it as a fruit mask; it works great both ways.
The heart beats for it: Potassium regulates blood pressure and this fruit has loads of it. Enjoy this fruit and lower hypertension, blood pressure, cholesterol, and improve heart health. However, if you are on blood thinners, limit consumption as it has pro-anti-coagulant properties. Therefore, consult your doctor before consuming.
Treats respiratory problems: Passion fruit plays a crucial role in treating asthma, common cold, cough and flu symptoms because it has anti-asthmatic properties.
Maintains cognitive processes: Many nutrients present in passion fruit reduce the chances of Alzheimer’s disease. Potassium increases blood flow to the brain and boosts cognition, concentration, and neurological activity.
Good for anaemics: Iron in this exotic delicacy improves anaemic symptoms including tiredness, breathlessness, dizziness, and so on.
Apart from the above this superfruit also prevents osteoporosis by boosting bone health. And that is why we recommend consuming passion fruit with great passion.