Deliciously sweet, juicy, rich in fiber, vitamin C and potassium, persimmons are the main fruits of autumn. Let’s discover together all the properties and benefits of the fruits of peace.
Persimmon is the fruit of the Diospyros kaki tree, originally from China and currently widespread in many parts of the world. The fruit is harvested in late autumn and sometimes stays on the tree until winter. Depending on the strain, the color varies from yellow to dark red-orange and are characterized by the typical sweet taste and gelatinous pulp.
Persimmons are generally divided into two “macro categories”: astringent persimmons and non astringent ones. The former can only be consumed ripe due to the high content of tannins; the latter, on the other hand, can also be consumed with a lower ripeness.
This is due to the chemical nature of the tannins present in the fruit, being insoluble in the non-astringent varieties (‘Fuyu’, ‘Izu’, ‘Jiro’, ‘Okugosho’, ‘Suruga’) and soluble in the astringent ones (‘Bright red’, ‘Hachiya’, ‘Tanenashi’, ‘Taubata’, ‘Triumph’). Soluble tannins bind to salivary proteins and cause their precipitation, giving rise to the annoying sensation of “sandpaper” in the mouth.
Varieties of persimmon: characteristics
These fruits are present in our territory in numerous varieties. In particular, among the most cultivated varieties of persimmons in Italy we can mention the Vanilla of Campania, the Cachi Mela, the Loto di Romagna, the Misilmeri of Sicily and the Hachiya.
- Hachiya: the Hachiya persimmon corresponds to the common variety most often found on our tables; it contains seeds and should be consumed when ripe, or when it is possible to appreciate its softness and sweetness;
- Apple persimmon: as you can guess from the name of this second variety, the apple persimmon has a more turgid and crunchy texture than the previous variety, although it returns an excellent degree of sweetness. It is a seedless variety with a lower content of tannins (substances that make persimmon unpleasant if eaten unripe);
- Vanilla persimmon: Particularly prized for its sweet and juicy pulp, vanilla persimmon is a variety similar to the common one, although its shape tends to flatter compared to the rounder classic persimmon. It is preferable to consume the vanilla persimmon when ripe, when the fruit has a homogeneous color tending to red;
- Loto di Romagna: typical of the area indicated in the name of this variety, the lotus of Romagna has a lively orange color, a particularly thin outer shell and an extremely sweet pulp. The lotus of Romagna boasts the IGP mark;
- Kaki di Misilmeri: despite its oriental origins, the kaki of Misilmeri is instead classified as a traditional product of the Sicilian land. This variety has a very intense red-orange color, containing a decidedly juicy and sugary pulp.
Difference between persimmon and apple persimmon
As we have seen above, the fruits of the common persimmon (subject of this article) are spherical berries of yellow-orange color, with a soft and gelatinous pulp that contain seeds, while the apple persimmon (belonging to another variety) it is without stones and has a crunchy and compact pulp.
Another substantial difference that exists between “common kaki” and “apple kaki” lies in the low presence of tannins in the latter, which makes it suitable for consumption even when not fully ripe. Now let’s explore all the properties of persimmons and what are the main benefits they bring to health.
Persimmon: calories and nutritional values
As with most fruit, persimmons are mainly composed of water, more than 80%; followed in decreasing order of weight by carbohydrates (in particular sugars), fibers, proteins and fats. The calories of persimmons are 70 per 100 grams of edible portion. Furthermore, these fruits have a medium glycemic index (50) and should be consumed in moderation in case of diabetes. We will explore this topic later. Let’s now see the nutritional values of these fruits.
Nutritional values per 100g of persimmon:
- Waterfall: 80.32 g
- kcal: 70
- Proteins: 0.58 g
- Fat: 0.19 g
- of which saturated: 0.02 g
- Carbohydrates: 18.59 g
- of which sugars: 12.53 g
- Fibers: 3.6 g
- Potassium: 161 mg
- Phosphorus: 17 mg
- Magnesium: 9 mg
- C vitamin: 7.5 mg
- Choline: 7.6 mg
- Glycemic index: 50
- Cholesterol: 0 g
Persimmon: nutritional properties
Persimmons have a good amount of fiber, minerals and vitamins, as well as substances with antioxidant power. Let’s now explore the nutritional characteristics of these fruits.
- Fiber: the good fiber content of persimmons improves the sense of satiety, intestinal transit and reduces the absorption of simple sugars and fats, especially cholesterol;
- Vitamin C: it is a powerful antioxidant that promotes skin health, immune function and aids in the absorption of iron;
- Potassium: persimmons are a good source of potassium, the essential mineral involved in blood pressure control, heart health, nerve transmission and hydro-saline exchange at the cellular level;
- Phosphorus: is the structural element of teeth, bones and cells and supports the immune system;
- Vitamin K: persimmons contain vitamin K, essential for blood clotting but also useful in preventing osteoporosis;
- Carotenoids: persimmons are rich in cryptoxanthin, lycopene, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene, which work to improve eye health and protect the skin from sunburn;
- Proanthocyanidins: polyphenols with antioxidant action that play an important role in reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases;
- Phytosterols: act in the intestine to reduce the absorption of cholesterol.
Persimmon: health benefits
The substances we have just seen give persimmons useful properties to support health on many fronts. In short, persimmons are an energetic fruit, are good for heart health, have antioxidant action, and offer health benefits for eyes and hair. Let’s see in detail all the benefits that these fruits bring.
✓ Natural energizer
The caloric intake and the amount of simple sugars present in persimmons act as natural energizers and should be present in the diet of those who practice regular physical activity. In addition, the potassium content helps reduce fatigue, tiredness and limits the development of muscle cramps.
✓ Benefits for heart health
The proanthocyanidins present in persimmons can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by lowering blood pressure and reducing platelet aggregation. Additionally, persimmon leaf extracts, juice and vinegar from these fruits have been used for centuries in traditional Japanese medicine to lower blood pressure.
✓ Antioxidant action of kaki
The antioxidant molecules present in persimmons protect our DNA from oxidative damage, reduce the risk of developing inflammatory and tumor pathologies.
✓ Persimmons reduce cholesterol and triglycerides
A study, would have demonstrated the action of integrating persimmons in the diet of laboratory animals (rats), highlighting that the antioxidants present in these fruits would act by reducing the total cholesterol value by about 20%, 31% the value of bad cholesterol (LDL) and 19% the value of triglycerides.
✓ Eye health
Carotenoids help protect our eyes from damage caused by sunlight and keep vision healthy. Furthermore, several studies have shown that both of these pigments work to prevent macular degeneration and cataracts, which are the main diseases that cause blindness.
✓ Belefici for the skin
Vitamin C and carotenoids are very powerful antioxidants capable of helping to fight skin damage caused by sun exposure and pollution, reduce wrinkles and improve the general structure of the skin. Furthermore, vitamin C plays an essential role in the formation of collagen, the main support system of the skin.
✓ Reduction of intoxication
Several studies seem to show that persimmon consumption would limit hangover symptoms by slowing the absorption and metabolism of alcohol.
How many persimmons to eat per day?
As with many other foods, the consumption of persimmon must also be contextualized and properly adapted to individual nutritional needs. In general, and considering the caloric intake is not exactly negligible, we tend to suggest a moderate consumption of this fruit, recommending the indicative portion of a persimmon a day. A whole fruit, in fact, corresponds to a standard portion of fruit.
Persimmons: how to use them in the kitchen
As we have seen above, persimmon is a fruit that must be consumed when fully ripe because the astringent taste for the palate (also called lappato), due to the presence of good quantities of tannins, would make it practically inedible.
Persimmons are excellent when eaten fresh, tasting the pulp with a spoon or added to smoothies or centrifuges and also the gelatinous consistency makes them the ideal ingredients for the preparation of puddings, jams, creams and desserts.
There are also several savory recipes to be able to consume these fruits not only at the end of meals, here are some examples:
- Persimmon risotto;
- Bake a few slices of apple persimmon in the oven with rosemary, oil, salt and pepper;
- Add a few slices of persimmon apple to your toasted walnut and almond salads.
If you are lucky enough to have a persimmon tree you can try consuming a herbal tea prepared with its leaves. In fact, persimmon leaves are an excellent digestive.
If you want to experience the benefits of persimmons on the skin, you can make a DIY beauty mask by simply spreading the pulp of the fruit directly on the face and thus benefit from its antioxidant and anti-aging properties.
How persimmons are kept
When very ripe, the persimmon fruit should be kept in the refrigerator, otherwise it can be left to ripen at room temperature for 2-3 days, resting on the side with the stalk. If very unripe, ripening can be accelerated by putting it in a paper bag with an apple or a banana, both fruits that give off ethylene, favoring ripening. To preserve persimmons for a long time, you can also dry them or freeze them.
Can people with diabetes eat persimmons? If so, how many?
Persimmon is one of the most sugary fruits and therefore tends to be banned from the diet of the diabetic patient. In reality, some precautions can make a difference and limit any waivers. In this regard, persimmon can also be consumed in case of diabetes, as long as in moderate quantities and frequency, which must be established on the basis of the individual patient, relative glycemic control and subjective nutritional needs.
Within meals, the portion of persimmon must also be compared to that of other foods rich in carbohydrates, reducing the portion of the latter. In this way, it is possible to keep the overall glycemic load of the meal under control.
Wanting to add a further trick, the apple persimmon can be a better choice since it can also be consumed not completely ripe and, in this case, it should have a lower sugar content than the common persimmon that has reached maturity, making it slightly more suitable in case of diabetes.
Can gastritis sufferers eat persimmons?
Boasting a slightly basic (alkaline) pH, the persimmon pulp has a beneficial effect in case of gastritis and gastroesophageal reflux. In particular, the consumption of this fruit acts in a neutralizing way on the acidity of gastric juices.
Persimmon: contraindications and potential negative effects
Persimmons have no particular contraindications. As we have seen above, their consumption should be reduced in those suffering from diabetes, insulin resistance and obesity, due to the high content of simple sugars, in particular fructose. As for the consumption of persimmon in the weight loss diet, it is possible but the quantities must be reduced and, possibly, not to exceed one fruit per day.
Finally, remember that persimmons have a low nickel content and are well tolerated even by those who are allergic to this metal. As always, however, it is good to test your individual tolerance by starting to consume only small quantities of the fruit.