Orange and round like the burning sun and capable of bringing the energy and health of the sun even on cold autumn days, we are talking about persimmons, the fruits of the persimmon tree or Diospyros kaki. Persimmons appeared around the 5th century BC in China, then spread to Korea, Japan and finally arrived only centuries later in Europe and then in America. In recent years, there has been a large increase in production of persimmons, which, at this time of the year, can be found on the shelves of all supermarkets. Sweet and delicious, however, persimmons are not just a delicacy but a real treasure trove of properties for health. Today we are talking about the health effects of persimmons, based, as always, on the most recent and interesting scientific research.
Persimmons, nutrients and properties
Persimmons are a valuable source of fiber, minerals, such as calcium, iron, phosphorus and potassium, and vitamins, such as vitamins A, B1, B2 and B3, C, but also folate and chlorophyll. Not only that, persimmons provide valuable anti-aging and anti-inflammatory substances, such as gallic acid, tannins, catechins, proanthocyanidins and carotenoids, especially lutein and zeaxanthin (Yoo et al, Curr Issues Mol Biol, 2021).
Anti-aging persimmons to counteract aging and cellular degeneration
Persimmons, as we have seen, are rich in proanthocyanidins, which are powerful antioxidant substances. Studies have shown that persimmon proanthocyanidins are capable of slowing down aging and increasing the life span. In fact, the intake of these compounds is able to increase the levels of Sirt1, which is a protein of the sirtuins family capable of activating all those processes responsible for survival, for the defense of the body from external attacks and for the use of stored fats, thus counteracting overweight and obesity (Yokozawa et al, J Med Food, 2009). The antioxidants of persimmons have also shown an important antitumor action (Butt et al, EXCLI J, 2015).
Persimmons for brain health
Persimmons, among the various healthy substances they contain, also provide tannins. Tannins are antioxidants and have been shown to counteract brain aging processes, protecting memory, learning ability and reducing the risk of neurodegeneration (Tian et al, Food Chem Toxicol, 2011).
Persimmon for the immune system
Persimmons also help the immune system. In fact, persimmons are antioxidants and reduce the levels of inflammation, which instead weakens our natural defenses. In addition, a study has shown that the tannins contained in persimmons also have an antiviral action and are able, in the event of Covid 19 infection, to reduce the risk of a severe course of the disease (Furukawa et al, Sci Rep, 2021 ).
Persimmons for the heart
Persimmons can also be helpful for heart health. In fact, thanks to the fibers and antioxidants they are rich in, they help to fight diabetes, reducing insulin resistance, lowering cholesterol and abdominal fat values (Nuankaew et al, Nutrients, 2022). Not only that, persimmons, thanks to their flavonoid content, reduce the risk of thrombus formation and coronary heart disease (Butt et al, EXCLI J, 2015).
Persimmons for eyesight
Persimmons provide vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are beneficial substances for eyesight. Indeed, vitamin A is essential for correct visual function and acuity and for night vision (Sajovic et al, Int J Mol Sci, 2022). Zeaxanthin and lutein protect the retina from blue light damage and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (Yang et al, J Ophthalmol, 2016).
Persimmons, how to take them
Persimmons are delicious and healthy fruits. In any case, even if they are beneficial, you should never overdo it with persimmons, as indeed for any other food. Persimmons are sugary and caloric and should be included in a varied and balanced diet. You can enjoy them alone or in combination with oranges, mandarins and berries, even frozen and thawed, and seasoned with a little lemon juice and a grated ginger for a delicious fruit salad.