American persimmons are beautiful orange fruits that looks like tomato when they ripe and are easy to eat and sweet to the taste. They have significant health benefits although most people are not very familiar with this fruit. American persimmon is known by the scientific name of Diospyros virginiana and is a type of persimmon species among several others.
American persimmon grows wild although it has been cultivated for its wood and fruits since the prehistoric times by the Native Americans. American persimmon health benefits are several although very few people are aware of it.
There is a wide range of different types of persimmons, but the most common type is Diospyros kaki. Two specific cultivars of this species are the Fuyu and the Hachiya persimmons. It was around the year 1800 AD that this species was introduced into the European countries and in the United States which then eventually expanded to other parts of the globe.
Description of the tree
The American persimmon is quite a small tree usually around thirty feet to eighty feet in height having a short, slender trunk and spreading, often pendulous branches, which form a broad or narrow, round-topped canopy. The roots are thick and fleshy. This species as has a shrubby growth form. The American persimmon has an oval like leaves and uni-sexual flowers that are on short stalks.
The Several Types of Persimmon
There are several types of persimmons found commonly across the world namely the
- American persimmon (with the scientific name of Diospyros virginiana) looks reddish orange with a sweet tste once they ripe.
- Black persimmon (with the scientific name of Diospyros diguna) turns into a very dark color when they ripe and have a sourly sweet taste.
- Caucasian persimmon, or lilac persimmon or Date-plum (with the scientific name of Diospyros lotus) tastes like a mix of dates and plum when they ripe.
- Indian persimmon (with the scientific name of Diospyros peregrine) turns golden when ripe but not much edible.
- Texas persimmon (with the scientific name of Diospyros texana) this one looks dark purple and tastes sweet once it has ripened.
- Asian persimmon or Japanese persimmon (with the scientific name of Diospyros kaki) also looks like tomatoes and tastes a bit sour and tangy.
- Astringent persimmons contain a high level of tannin due to which they are almost un-edible until they turn very soft and ripe.
- Non astringent persimmons do not contain a high level of tannin like astringent persimmons and can be eaten before they turn very ripe.
9 Health Benefits of American Persimmon
Due to the large number of different varieties of persimmons available worldwide, it becomes more of a challenge to examine the nutritional qualities of each. Today we will look at the nutritional and health benefits of the common American Persimmon.
- They contain the vitamin A – American Persimmons have a good amount of vitamin A that is good for your eyes, for bone growth, immune system and reproduction. Vitamin A helps the skin and mucous membranes repel bacteria and viruses more effectively.
- Contains Manganese – Manganese is required for a healthy bone structure, bone metabolism, and helping to create essential enzymes needed for building bones. Manganese acts as a co-enzyme to assist metabolic activity in the body.
- American Persimmons contain dietary fibers – Dietary fibers are essential as they help in normalizing bowel movements, Lowers cholesterol levels, helps the body in achieving a healthy weight and control blood sugar levels.
- American Persimmons contain vitamin C– Vitamin C is vital for the prevention and treatment of scurvy, boosting the immune system, common cold, the treatment of lead toxicity, curing cataracts, lowering hyper tension, treatment of cancer, maintain elasticity of the skin and combating strokes.
- American Persimmons contain copper – Copper help to prevent premature aging and increase energy. It is responsible for regulating the heart rhythm, reduced symptoms of arthritis, balanced thyroid glands, quick healing of wound, increase formation of red blood cell and reduce the bad cholesterol in the body.
- American Persimmons contain potassium– Potassium reduces blood pressure, helps correct heart and kidney disorders, lessens anxiety and stress, enhances muscle strength, creates water balance, helps in the electrolytic functions, and beneficial for the right functioning of the nervous system.
- They contain a rich amount of anti-oxidants – Anti oxidants are the good guys in the body and required for preventing cancers.
- Rich source of tannin – American Persimmons are a rich source of tannin when unripe. Tannin are useful as they help prevent several types of cancer and heart diseases.
- Contain vitamin b1, b2 and b3 – These vitamins are essential as they work together to produce energy through helping the body in effective food absorption and controlling the metabolic function.
- American persimmons contain phosphorus – Phosphorus is required for healthy bones and teeth. It boosts the health of gums and tooth enamel.
- Contains traces of the element Zinc – Zinc is an “essential trace element” and a minute amount of it is necessary for human health. It is used for treatment and prevention of zinc deficiencies that include an acute diarrhea in children, slow healing of wounds and a stunted growth.
- Contains Choline – This is similar to the B vitamins and is helpful in preventing and controlling chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis both of which are types of liver diseases.
- Contains Beta Carotene – Beta Carotene helps maintain a healthy looking skin and plays a vital role in optical health.
- American persimmons contain traces of Betulinic acid along with flavonoid poly-phenolic anti-oxidants such as catechins and gallocatechins. Betulinic acid is known to have anti-tumor property and are thus beneficial in prevention of cancers.
How to eat American persimmons
American persimmons can be consumed once they ripe. They can be consumed fresh, dried or cooked however you want it. About me, I like to cut them in slices and put them in salads. Raw american persimmons are very sweet to taste.
- Dried American persimmon can be used to make cookies, cakes, muffins, puddings, salads and as a topping in breakfast cereal.
- Persimmon fruit pudding is a popular dessert which uses fresh persimmons.
- The dried persimmons can be enjoyed as a snack or they might be used in making tasty desserts.
- Matured, fermented American persimmons are used to make persimmon vinegar named “gamsikcho“.
American Persimmon – Side Effects
American persimmons are generally safe to eat and has a very rare chance of allergy. Its side-effects may be not severe but over eating is not suggested as they have a high amount of tannin. Tannin is good in small amounts but in large quantities can have a toxic effect on the human body. Having excess amounts of tannin will leave your mouth feeling dry and numb after eating the fruit which might be the cause of panic to some although it is harmless and will go away after some minutes.
Eating persimmon fruit on an empty stomach or in excess can cause diarrhea and stomach stones.
Patients having Diabetes should refrain from eating high quantities of persimmons as it is known to contain a high amount of sugar which will elevate blood glucose levels in the body.
Making Tea with American Persimmon Leaves
Persimmon leaves can be boiled and made into a tea which can then be drink-ed. This tea can be made either using fresh persimmon leaves or with the dried ones however you wish as they both have the same amount of health benefits although it has been noticed that using dried leaves for the tea tends generally produces a far better taste.