Caribbean Market: Passion Fruit

by Amber Charles-Alexis, MSPH, RDN

September 27, 2021


Background | Food uses | Nutrition | Health Benefits | Purchase & Storage tips


Picture: Canva


I have fond (and exciting) childhood memories of slicing a large bag of passion fruits in half for my mother to blend them to make juice.


As much as I enjoyed smelling passion fruit, its juice is an all-time favorite of mine, and it surely is popular in the Caribbean and among the diaspora.


As an adult, I now eat passion fruit straight from the rind, or maybe use it as a topper for my yogurt snack (try it before you knock it).


Here is another installment to the Caribbean Market.


Background

Alternate names: purple passion fruit (Passiflora edulis), yellow passion fruit (Passiflora flavicarpa), maracuya, granadilla


Passion fruit is believed to have originated in South America but can be grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions and are now found world-wide.


They have been used extensively in herbal medicine to treat many disorders, namely anxiety and depression, and continue to be explored for their potential pharmaceutical benefits (1, 2).


Food Uses

The passion fruit is quite versatile, though it may be tart.


It can be eaten directly from the rind, or made into a juice or concentrate for alcoholic beverages.


It may even be used to create jelly, much like the lilikoi jelly which is a staple part of the Hawaiian breakfast.


You can use it as a topping for your yogurt and smoothie bowls, or add flavor to baked goods such as cakes.


Nutrition Facts

Passion fruit is an excellent source of dietary fiber - with an astonishing 25 g in just 1 cup of passion fruit (seeds included)! This is 88% of your daily needs for fiber (3).


It is also a rich source of vitamin C and iron, and provides moderate amounts of potassium, magnesium, vitamin A and phosphorus (3).


It is mainly made up of water, although it is naturally high in sugars (not that this is a bad thing for this fruit).



Health Benefits

Reduce inflammation

Chronic inflammation has been linked to the development of many lifestyle diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer (4).


Passion fruit contains compounds with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, including flavonoids, triterpenoids, and piceatannol (5, 6).


In lab, rat and human studies, extracts of Passiflora varieties have been shown to block inflammatory pathways and reduce the levels of inflammatory markers in the body (1, 2, 5, 6).


Treat anxiety & depression

Extracts of the passion fruit have long been investigated for their role in treating anxiety and depression and has proven to be of importance to psychiatric medicine (1, 2).


A dated review study found that passion fruit extract was as efficient as benzodiazepine (an anti-anxiety drug) and resulted in less drowsiness than mexazolam (1).


However, clinical research is scant and more human research is needed to prove its efficacy and determine safe doses.


Lower blood sugar

A 2020 study demonstrated that passion fruit extracts lower blood sugar levels in rats with diabetes (7).


These extracts also reduced total cholesterol, inflammatory markers and platelet aggregation associated with blood clots (7).


It is important to note that these studies were conducted in animals, and more human research in this area is needed.


It is also unclear whether the whole fruit elicits the same response, although it is anticipated to support good blood sugar control, given its high dietary fiber content.


Purchasing tips

  • Ensure that the surroundings are clean, well-lit, and well-ventilated

  • Inspect the passion fruit for holes, or damage to the rind that may pose a health risk for consumption

  • You may want to avoid passion fruit that are shriveled - although the fruit on the inside is usually still viable



Storage tips

  • Passion fruit can be stored at room temperature, for 10 to 15 days

  • If refrigerating, it can last for up to 30 days

  • When frozen, you can store passion fruit for up to 6 months. However, you may want to remove the rind first and store the seeds and flesh in an airtight container.

 

The Caribbean Market highlights the nutritional facts and health benefits of fruits and vegetables found in the Caribbean, with the goals of instilling pride and ownership in the diaspora and promoting local eating.


References:


  1. Passiflora for anxiety disorder - PubMed (nih.gov)

  2. Herbal Medicinal Products from Passiflora for Anxiety: An Unexploited Potential - PubMed (nih.gov)

  3. Nutrition Facts for Passion Fruit (Granadilla) (myfooddata.com)

  4. Chronic Inflammation - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)

  5. Passiflora edulis: An Insight Into Current Researches on Phytochemistry and Pharmacology - PubMed (nih.gov)

  6. Evidence of anti-inflammatory effects of Passiflora edulis in an inflammation model - PubMed (nih.gov)

  7. Passiflora edulis Leaf Extract: Evidence of Antidiabetic and Antiplatelet Effects in Rats - PubMed (nih.gov)

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