The loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is a tree native to China in the rose family, prized for its sweet fruit.
Loquats are small, round fruits that grow in clusters. Their color varies from yellow to red-orange, depending on the variety.
Loquat fruit, seeds, and leaves are packed with powerful plant compounds and have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years.
Recent research suggests that loquats may offer various health benefits, including protection against some diseases.
Here are 7 surprising health benefits of loquats.
1. Loquats are high in nutrients
Loquats are low-calorie fruits that provide numerous vitamins and minerals, making them very nutritious.
One cup (149 grams) of cubed loquats contains:
- Calories: 70
- Carbs: 18 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Provitamin A: 46% of the daily value
- Vitamin B6: 7% of the daily value
- Folate (vitamin B9): 5% of the daily value
- Magnesium: 5% of the daily value
- Potassium: 11% of the daily value
- Manganese: 11% of the daily value
These fruits are particularly high in carotenoid antioxidants, which prevent cellular damage and may protect against disease. Carotenoids are also precursors to vitamin A, essential for healthy vision, immune function, and cellular growth.
In addition, loquats boast folate and vitamin B6, which are important for energy production and blood cell formation.
What’s more, they provide magnesium and potassium, essential for nerve and muscle function, and manganese, which supports bone health and metabolism.
Additionally, loquats contain small amounts of vitamin C, thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), copper, iron, calcium, and phosphorus.
Summary: Loquats are low-calorie fruits that provide various nutrients, including provitamin A, several B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and manganese.
2. Loquats are packed with plant compounds
Loquats’ plant compounds benefit your health in several ways.
For example, they’re an excellent source of carotenoid antioxidants, including beta carotene — though darker, red or orange varieties tend to offer more carotenoids than paler ones.
Carotenoids have been shown to enhance your immune system, reduce inflammation, and protect against heart and eye diseases.
In particular, diets rich in beta-carotene have been linked to a lower risk of certain cancers, including colorectal and lung cancer.
A review of 7 studies also associated high beta carotene intake with a significantly lower risk of death from all causes, compared with low beta carotene intake.
Moreover, loquats are rich in phenolic compounds, which possess antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties and may help safeguard against several conditions, including diabetes and heart disease.
Summary: Loquats are an excellent source of carotenoids and phenolic compounds, which offer plenty of health benefits.
3. Loquats may promote heart health
Loquats may bolster heart health due to their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants concentration.
In particular, their potassium and magnesium are essential for blood pressure regulation and the proper functioning of your arteries.
Their carotenoids and phenolic compounds may likewise protect against heart disease by reducing inflammation and preventing cellular damage.
Carotenoids have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that help prevent plaque buildup in your arteries, which is the leading cause of heart disease and heart-disease-related death.
Studies reveal that people who eat more carotenoid-rich foods have a significantly reduced risk of heart disease compared to those who eat fewer.
Summary: Loquats are rich in potassium, magnesium, carotenoids, and phenolic compounds, which may boost heart health and protect against heart disease.
4. Loquats may have anticancer properties
Some research suggests that skin, leaves, and loquat seed extracts have anticancer effects.
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For instance, one test-tube study showed that extract from loquat fruit skins significantly inhibited the growth and spread of human bladder cancer cells.
Additionally, substances in loquats’ skin and flesh, including carotenoids and phenolic compounds, are known to possess anticancer properties.
Beta carotene has exhibited cancer-fighting effects in both test-tube and animal studies, while chlorogenic acid — a phenolic compound — has been shown to suppress tumor growth in multiple test-tube studies.
Furthermore, human research indicates that a fruit-rich diet protects against cancer.
Nonetheless, more studies on loquats are needed.
Summary: Though loquats may have anticancer properties, more research is necessary.
5. Loquats may improve metabolic health
Loquats may improve metabolic health by reducing levels of triglycerides, blood sugar, and insulin — a hormone that helps move blood sugar into your cells to be used for energy.
Various parts of the loquat tree, including its leaves and seeds, have long been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat metabolic issues like high blood sugar.
In a 4-week study, mice fed loquat on a high-fat diet had lower blood sugar, triglyceride, and insulin levels than mice only on a high-fat diet.
Other rodent studies suggest that loquat leaf and seed extracts may also lower blood sugar.
However, human studies are necessary.
Summary: Loquat fruit, leaves, and seeds may benefit several aspects of metabolic health, but human studies are lacking.
6. Loquats may offer anti-inflammatory properties
Chronic inflammation is linked to many health conditions, including heart disease, brain ailments, and diabetes.
Some research suggests that loquats have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
In a test-tube study, loquat juice significantly increased levels of an anti-inflammatory protein called interleukin-10 (IL-10) while significantly decreasing levels of two inflammatory proteins — interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha).
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Additionally, a rodent study found that supplementing with loquat fruit extract reduced overall inflammation caused by a high-sugar diet and significantly lowered levels of endotoxins, a type of inflammatory substance, in the liver.
These potent anti-inflammatory effects are likely due to loquats’ wide array of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. All the same, human research is needed.
Summary: Test-tube and animal research suggest that loquats may have powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
7. Loquats are versatile and tasty
Loquats grow in semitropical environments. In these regions, they may be purchased from local farmers or even grown in backyards.
If you live in a colder climate, they’re harder to find but may be available at specialty grocery stores, depending on the time of year.
Loquats taste sweet yet slightly tart, with notes of citrus. Be sure to choose fully ripe loquats, as immature fruit is sour. Ripe ones turn a bright yellow-orange and are soft to the touch.
As loquats rot quickly, you should eat them within a few days of purchase.
You can add them to your diet in a variety of ways, including:
- raw, paired with cheese or nuts as a snack
- tossed into a fruit salad
- stewed with maple syrup and cinnamon as a sweet topping for oatmeal
- baked into pies and cakes
- made into jam or jelly
- added to a smoothie alongside spinach, Greek yogurt, avocado, coconut milk, and frozen banana
- combined with peppers, tomatoes, and fresh herbs for a delectable salsa
- cooked and served with meat or poultry as a sweet side
- juiced for cocktails and mocktails
If you aren’t planning on enjoying loquats immediately, you can refrigerate them for up to 2 weeks. You can also dehydrate, can, or freeze them to extend their shelf life.
Summary: Loquats’ sweet, slightly tart taste pairs well with many dishes. These fruits are delicate and don’t keep for long, so you may want to preserve them through freezing, canning, or dehydrating. You can also make them into jams and jellies.
Loquats are delicious fruits that offer a variety of health benefits.
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They’re low in calories but boast plenty of vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory plant compounds.
Plus, some research suggests they may safeguard against certain conditions, such as heart disease and cancer, and reduce blood sugar, triglyceride, and insulin levels.
If you’re curious, try to find loquats at your local specialty store. You can also buy loquat tea, syrup, candy, and seedlings online.