Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Persimmon A Day….

Persimmons-1 Keeps all doctors away…I hope! Persimmon is one of my (and my family’s) favorite fruit and I ALWAYS eat it fresh (with the skin on). The skin is crunchy and the flesh is oh-so-honey-sweet and smooth! The ones we get in Malaysia are usually very sweet (and still firm to the touch), which now I found out are the Non-Astringent ones.

Anyway, during our to NYC recently, I picked up a basket of mini persimmons labeled as Sharon Fruit. The curiosity in me sparked me to do some googling around to find out the story behind the name. Sources from the Internet mentioned that Sharon Fruit, is a variation of seedless Fuyu Persimmon mostly grown in Israel and is known as the world’s sweetest Persimmon!

I found out that there are actually 2 kinds of persimmons, astringent and non-astringent. According to Wikipedia; “The heart-shaped Hachiya is the most common variety of astringent persimmon. Astringent persimmons contain very high levels of soluble tannins and are unpalatable if eaten before softening. The astringency of tannins is removed through ripening by exposure to light over several days, or artificially with chemicals such as alcohol and carbon dioxide which change tannin into the insoluble form. This bletting process is sometimes jumpstarted by exposing the fruit to cold or frost which hastens cellular wall breakdown. These astringent persimmons can also be prepared for commercial purposes by drying.

The non-astringent persimmon is squat like a tomato and is most commonly sold as fuyu. Non-astringent persimmons are not actually free of tannins as the term suggests, but rather are far less astringent before ripening, and lose more of their tannic quality sooner. Non-astringent persimmons may be consumed when still very firm to very very soft.”

Now that explains, the bitter chalky taste of the Persimmons (Astringent) my family and I ate in Australia. They were being sold on the streets and looked so good! But our first bites into that shiny orangy fresh persimmons left us puckering up with a bad impression of Australian Persimmons! If only we had known better at that time!

Let me share a little history of Persimmons before I go on telling you the health benefits of eating them! This is an excerpt from : “Persimmon is known in the Far East as the "Chinese apple". Its scientific name, Diospyros, means "food of the Gods". The original fruit is native to China and it was introduced to Japan 1300 years ago, to Europe in 1600 and to the USA in 1800.”

Now to the healthy benefits of eating (taken from various sources on the internet) these tomato like oh-honey-sweet fruits…. A Persimmon contains twice as much fiber than apple, and therefore has positive effect on the cholesterol level with the soluble and insoluble dietary fibers. It also contains antioxidants such as carotenoids and polyphenols which may also affect fat metabolism. A study conducted in Japan also showed that the peel of the persimmon contains phytochemicals known as proanthocyanidins which may protect cells against oxidative damage associated with aging. Persimmons are also good for your heart as it reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease such as heart disease and stroke. Besides that, the fruit also is a good source of sodium, potassium, magnesium, manganese and iron, vitamin A and C, good for your lung, relieve diarrhea, treat hypertension, senile asthma and cough with mucus.

Go ahead, pick up some Persimmons (or Sharon Fruits) today!


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