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What Is Loquat?
Can I Find It In Jamaica?

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What is Loquat?What is Loquat?

by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer

If you've never heard of the loquat, you're not alone. This fruit is a discovery for me too and was introduced to us by Mr. Wedderburn from Bluefield’s Organic Farm. This small, round fruit, which varies in colour from yellow to red-orange, might just be one of the best-kept secrets of the fruit world.

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Native to China and a member of the rose family, the loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) has made its way into various regions, including here in Jamaica, where it has started to gain a bit of a following. But what makes this fruit so special? I would say it’s health benefits. Here are the top seven.

1. Bursting with Nutrients

For such a small fruit, loquats pack a big nutritional punch. A single cup (about 149 grams) of these little gems contains just 70 calories but offers a wealth of vitamins and minerals:
- Carbs
- Protein
- Fiber
- Provitamin A
- Vitamin B6
- Folate (Vitamin B9)
- Magnesium
- Potassium
- Manganese

Loquats are particularly rich in carotenoid antioxidants, which help prevent cellular damage and support healthy vision, immune function, and growth. Plus, they provide essential nutrients like folate and vitamin B6 for energy production and blood cell formation, and magnesium and potassium for nerve and muscle function.

2. Rich in Plant Compounds

Loquats are not just nutrient-dense; they are also brimming with beneficial plant compounds. These include carotenoids like beta-carotene, which boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, and protect against heart and eye diseases. High beta-carotene intake has been linked to a lower risk of certain cancers and a reduced risk of death from all causes.

Moreover, loquats contain phenolic compounds that offer antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties, potentially safeguarding against diabetes and heart disease.

3. Heart Health Hero

Your heart will love loquats, thanks to their rich supply of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Potassium and magnesium in loquats are vital for blood pressure regulation and arterial function. The fruit's carotenoids and phenolic compounds help reduce inflammation and prevent cellular damage, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease.

Studies indicate that people who consume more carotenoid-rich foods, like loquats, have a significantly reduced risk of heart disease.

4. Potential Anticancer Properties

Loquats may also have anticancer potential. Extracts from the fruit's skin, leaves, and seeds have shown promising results in inhibiting the growth and spread of cancer cells.

For instance, loquat fruit skin extract has been found to significantly inhibit the growth of bladder cancer cells. The beta-carotene and phenolic compounds in loquats possess known anticancer properties, with some studies highlighting their role in suppressing tumour growth.

5. Metabolic Health Booster

Loquats might improve metabolic health by helping to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels. Traditionally, various parts of the loquat tree, such as its leaves and seeds, have been used in Chinese medicine to address metabolic issues like high blood sugar. Recent studies support this, showing that loquat leaf extracts can lower blood glucose levels and improve insulin resistance.

6. Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

Inflammation is the body's response to injury or infection, but chronic inflammation can lead to various diseases. Loquats have been studied for their anti-inflammatory effects, attributed to their high antioxidant content. Research suggests that compounds in loquat leaves can reduce inflammation in conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and allergic dermatitis.

7. Antioxidant Powerhouse

The antioxidants in loquats, especially the carotenoids, help combat oxidative stress caused by free radicals. This oxidative stress can lead to chronic health conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular problems. By neutralizing free radicals, loquats can help protect the body from these harmful effects.

How to have loquats:

Loquats are versatile and can be enjoyed in various ways.

  • Fresh: You can eat them raw, slice them into salads, or pair them with yoghurt and granola.
  • Smoothies: Blend them into your favourite smoothie recipes.
  • Cooking and Baking: Use them in jams, pies, or even as a sweet addition to savoury dishes.
  • Dried: Enjoy them as a healthy, dried fruit snack.

When selecting loquats, look for ones that are firm but slightly soft to the touch and range in colour from yellow to orange.

When selecting loquats, look for ones that are firm but slightly soft to the touch and range in colour from yellow to orange.

While loquats are generally safe to eat, their seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides, which can release cyanide when ingested. It's best to avoid consuming the seeds. Additionally, if you experience any adverse reactions, consult a healthcare provider.

The loquat may not be the most famous fruit here in Jamaica but with its amazing health benefits and delightful taste, I am certainly hoping it begins to grow in popularity. From boosting heart health to offering potential anticancer properties, this small fruit packs a big punch. So next time you come across a loquat, give it a try – your body will thank you!

Before you go, check out the video below as we visit Bluefield’s Organic Farm to find out more about the loquat!

Watch Video! What Is Loquat?

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Return to Jamaican Fruits from What Is Loquat?
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References & Sources For What Is Loquat?

  1. Kubala, J. (2019) 7 surprising benefits of loquats, Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/loquats (Accessed: 01 June 2024).
  2. Weasler, P. (2024) Loquat Fruit: Juicy benefits to know, Verywell Health. Available at: https://www.verywellhealth.com/loquat-8559612 (Accessed: 01 June 2024).
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