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A versatile fruit, the creamy and sweet persimmon has exciting potential to be the star of smoothies, cookies and salads.  They are an unfamiliar and nutritious, soon-to-be favorite.


The Fruit

Technically speaking, they are oversized berries, and they resemble an unusual, heart-shaped tomato, glowing yellow to orange colored hues when harvested. These days persimmon is much more interesting than plain old pudding.  Historically, known as Japan’s national fruit, persimmon is now grown in all parts of the world: America, Southern Europe, China and Korea. Depending on the type, the fruit can make your lips and tongue seemingly tighten and feel chalky. Although harmless to us, this astringent characteristic is reason enough to wait for the fruit to ripen. Since they are best when ripe, try storing in a closed container with bananas, apples, or pears to expedite the ripening process so you can get to enjoying your fruit! When perfectly ripe, the fruit is extremely flavorful and texturally very gooey and soupy.

As the name suggests, Persimmon has a lot of health benefits to offer and is the perfect snack.  It is an excellent source of dietary fiber, providing twice as much as a medium apple, which aids perfectly with proper digestion to keep you regular [i].  Additionally, like other similar type fruits, it provides multitudes of nutrients. It’s a “food first” type multivitamin, containing good amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin B (thiamin, folic acid and pyridoxine), with minerals like magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium [i]. A great new way to get your nutrients.


Persimmon for Cancer Prevention

Aside from being a great source of nutrients, persimmon packs a powerful antioxidant punch, specifically due to its carotenoid and polyphenol content. Carotenoids found in the yellow, orange and red fruits and veggies help prevent growth of cancer cells, most notably in breast cancer. Carotenoids work to destroy DNA polymerase, an enzyme associated with DNA replication, to prevent uncontrolled divisions of mutated cells. Antioxidant levels in the fruit depend on the variety and stage of ripeness [ii].


Reap All the Benefits

Persimmon has also been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by reducing blood pressure. And the magic isn’t just from the fruit. The leaves are just as valuable. They are often times dried and converted into green tea for relieving upset stomachs. The leaves also have anti-aging properties and are often incorporated into cosmetics products [ii].


Pure Enjoyment

Persimmons truly deserve to be labeled the “Fruits of God.” Unfortunately, their popularity is a work in progress. They are not as well-known as their nutrient dense neighbors: avocado, kale, and pomegranate. The next time you go shopping and see a persimmon on the shelf, keep in mind the health benefits of this wonderful fruit and bring one home.

[i] Gorinstein, S.; Zachwieja, Z.; Folta, M.; Barton, H.; Piotrowicz, J.; Zemser, M.; Weisz, M.; Trakhtenberg, S.; Màrtín-Belloso, O. 2001. Comparative Contents of Dietary Fiber, Total Phenolics, and Minerals in Persimmons and Apples. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 49 (2): 952–957.
[ii] George, A.P., and S. Redpath.  2008. Health and Medicinal Benefits of Persimmon Fruit: a Review. Advances in Horticultural Science. 22 (4):244–249.
Jessica Iannotta, MS, RD, CSO, CDN

Jessica is a registered dietitian and certified specialist in oncology nutrition (CSO). She studied nutrition at Cornell University and completed her dietetic internship at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center. She obtained her Master's degree through the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Jessica has worked in inpatient and outpatient oncology settings since 2001 in the North Shore-LIJ Health System. Jessica is in charge of all operations including clinical and culinary operations ranging from menu development to evidence-based website content, relationships with registered dietitians and social workers and developing processes and protocols for intake, management and outcomes analysis of patients.

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