Medlar have excellent properties and offer numerous benefits to our health. Traditional Chinese medicine also recognizes medlar important healing properties.
Loquats are sweet and juicy fruits, originating in southeastern China, from where they first spread to Japan and then around the world. These fruits grow on trees with large, glossy dark green leaves that many of us are lucky enough to be able to grow in our garden.
The scientific name of the plant is Eriobotrya japonica (Japanese medlar) to be distinguished from Mespilus germanica (European medlar), a small thorny tree that produces light brown woody fruits.
Medlars have numerous properties: they are good for the heart, they are friends of the eye and protect the skin. In addition, they are low in calories, in fact they provide 47 calories per 100 g, and are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. They also contain about 87% of water and very little fat. Let’s see in more detail what are the properties of medlars and the benefits they bring to our health.
Nutritional values per 100g of medlar:
- Waterfall: 86.73 g
- kcal: 47
- Proteins: 1.7 g
- Fat: 0.2 g
- of which saturated: 0.04 g
- Carbohydrates: 12.14 g
- Fibers: 1.7 g
- Potassium: 266 mg
- Glycemic index: 55
- Cholesterol: 0 g
Medlar: properties and health benefits
As we have mentioned, medlars are fruits rich in properties and bring various health benefits, let’s see them in detail.
✓ Protect from colon cancer
Medlars are particularly rich in pectin, a soluble fiber, which acts as a laxative and works to eliminate toxins and reduce the exposure of the mucous membranes of the digestive tract to any toxic substances that may accumulate there.
✓ Protect the cardiovascular system
Thanks to their high potassium content, medlars contribute to the electrolyte balance of the blood thus reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Vitamins A and B (especially folate) and other minerals such as iron, manganese and copper also contribute to this balance. They also help regulate blood pressure.
✓ Reduce blood cholesterol levels
Loquats help reduce blood cholesterol levels. This property is mainly given by the presence of fibers that bind excess fats in the intestine, preventing them from being absorbed.
✓ Help improve eyesight
These fruits are particularly rich in vitamin A, which has a protective effect on the retina by counteracting the formation of free radicals with its antioxidant action.
✓ Friendly to the skin and mucous membranes
It is once again the vitamin A content that causes medlars to have an antioxidant action and therefore protect the skin and mucous membranes from aging and damage caused by external agents.
✓ Contribute to the renewal of blood cells
Magnesium, manganese, copper and iron contained in medlars are important minerals used in the chemical reactions that lead to the formation of new red blood cells in the blood.
✓ Relieve kidney problems
Their use is particularly recommended in the case of hyperuricemia (high levels of uric acids in the blood), gout and kidney stones. In fact, they act as diuretics by promoting the elimination of uric acids through the urine.
✓ Other properties of medlars
In addition to the fruit, the leaves of the medlar also have remarkable beneficial properties. For example, they are expectorants, ie their extract acts as a mucolytic; for this reason it is used in herbal medicine as a cough remedy. The decoction can also be used in the treatment of coughs and as a mouthwash.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the leaves are used to treat headaches, back pain and vomiting. They also contain numerous acids and polyphenolic compounds with antiviral properties. The same leaves in cosmetology are used to produce anti-inflammatory and anti-redness creams for the skin.
Medlar: how many to eat
A serving of medlar, as well as other fruit, is equivalent to about 150 grams or, more practically, to 2 or 3 medium-sized fruits. When they are in season we can eat them even several times a week, taking care, however, to alternate them with other seasonal fruit in order to ensure all the nutrients necessary for health.
Medlar: how to choose and eat them
When they appear yellow and soft, the medlars are ready for harvesting and this is how we find them in our markets. In choosing a good fruit, it is important that the loquats have a smooth and not withered skin and that they are well turgid, in order to ensure that they have the right ripeness.
Medlar can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week. Before consuming them it is necessary to wash them carefully and remove the peel as it is better not to eat it, therefore they must be peeled before being consumed.
They can be eaten after meals or as a snack between meals because, given their glycemic index, they do not cause sudden increases in blood sugar. It is also possible to obtain very sweet sauces to accompany ice cream or other desserts or jams to be enjoyed in a healthy breakfast.
Contraindications of medlars
There are no contraindications to the consumption of medlars, which we have seen to be very healthy fruits from different points of view. Another argument applies to kernels, which contain compounds called cyanogenic glycosides (in particular amygdalin), which release hydrogen cyanide, a toxic substance.
Amygdalin is lethal in high doses, while in low doses it can cause symptoms such as headache or nausea. In fact, all this seems a contradiction if we think that notoriously from the kernels of medlars a much appreciated liqueur called medlar is obtained.
Summer and winter medlar: differences and characteristics
In this article we have always referred to summer medlars (also called spring medlars), which we usually eat in spring / early summer. In this case it is the fruits of the Japanese medlar, a plant originally from China and subsequently spread to Japan.
However, there are some fruits also known as “winter medlars”, which grow on the plants of the European medlar (Mespilus germanica). The latter have a very different appearance from the summer medlars, they are smaller and rounder, harder to the touch, brownish in color and with a small opening on the bottom. Their harvest usually begins in November and can be enjoyed in winter.
Unlike the summer ones, which as soon as they are harvested are ready to eat, the winter ones must be harvested a little unripe and kept to ripen covered in a cool and dry place for two or three weeks, until they become soft and sweet. The farmers in the past let them ripen under the straw. The flavor of winter medlars, if tasted unripe, is sour, while when ripe they become sweet but with a sour note.
100 grams of winter medlars provide about 47 kcal, so they are more caloric than the summer ones, but like these they have no fat and are rich in minerals and vitamins. Among the minerals, potassium gives them diuretic and hypotensive properties. Among the vitamins, abundant are those of group B. These characteristics are in common with the summer medlars. Their sour taste is instead due to the tannins they contain, which have astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. Furthermore, flavonoids contribute to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
The presence of soluble fibers, including pectins, helps to lower the glycemic index of this fruit making it suitable for those who have problems managing glucose, as well as giving it a slight laxative effect. Among the properties of winter medlars there is also the cholesterol-lowering effect. While the summer medlars are usually eaten fresh, with the winter ones an excellent jam is much more often prepared.