Health Benefits of Passion Fruit Seeds
Can you eat passion fruit seeds, and if so, do they offer any health benefits? This question is commonly asked by health food enthusiasts eager to explore the benefits of exotic fruits. The brief answer is: yes, passion fruit seeds are edible, and they are good for you, too. Passion fruit seeds provide a nice crunch when eaten with the fruit pulp, and they deliver an abundance of nutritional and health benefits ranging from antioxidant protection to the maintenance of healthy cardiovascular and intestinal systems. They are rich in polyphenolic compounds such as piceatannol and scirpusin B, and they deliver plenty of insoluble dietary fiber and magnesium. In this article, we will take an in-depth look into the multiple nutritional and health benefits of passion fruit seeds.
Piceatannol and scirpusin B in passion fruit seeds provide antioxidant protection
Passion fruit seeds are loaded with piceatannol and scirpusin B, polyphenolic compounds that have strong antioxidant activity. Antioxidants are thought to protect the body from free radicals, highly reactive molecules that damage the DNA within cells.
The damage caused by free radicals can ultimately lead to many degenerative and chronic diseases such as immune system problems, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, arthritis, dementia, and diabetes. In addition to providing protection against certain diseases, the free radical destroying properties of passion fruit seeds may also provide beauty benefits by preventing premature wrinkling of the skin caused by UV radiation. In response to exposure to UV rays your body produces large amounts of enzymes called metalloproteinases which help repair sun-damaged collagen. However, not all metalloproteinases are good for us. Some of them actually degrade collagen and elastin — which can eventually lead to wrinkling of the skin — and free radicals activate these harmful metalloproteinases.
Passion fruit seeds may offer significant cardiovascular benefits
Sano, Sugiyama, Ito, Katano, and Ishihata (2011) investigated the vasorelaxing effects of the major polyphenols found in passion fruit seeds. Vasorelaxation refers to the widening of blood vessels resulting from relaxation of smooth muscle cells within the blood vessel walls. This widening of blood vessels leads to a decrease in vascular pressure which is important for a healthy cardiovascular system. The researchers found that both piceatannol and scirpusin B offered potent vasorelaxant effects in rat aortas3 (aorta is the large artery that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart). While both of these compounds offered cardiovascular health benefits, scirpusin B exerted a greater vasorelaxant effect.
Tip: Check out our page on heart healthy diet tips for nutrition advice, food recommendations and recipes designed for people who want to reduce their risk of developing a cardiovascular disease (CVD) by eating and avoiding specific foods.
Passion fruit seeds deliver magnesium
Passion fruit seeds provide magnesium, an essential mineral that plays a prominent role in your health from the day you are born. For starters, magnesium plays an important role in carbohydrate metabolism. It also is essential for proper heartbeat and nerve transmission. Furthermore, it helps genes function properly. Still not impressed with the health effects of magnesium? Well, guess what, magnesium is also necessary for strong bones. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for magnesium in adults ranges from 310 to 420 milligrams, and a regular consumption of passion fruit seeds can make a significant contribution to your daily magnesium intake. Eating plenty of magnesium-rich foods is particularly important to people with an increased risk of magnesium deficiency. Risk factors that increase the likelihood of magnesium deficiency include stress, long-term use of certain diuretics, some gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn's disease, and high alcohol consumption.
The insoluble fiber in passion fruit seeds promotes intestinal health
Passion fruit seeds are rich in insoluble dietary fiber (64.1 grams per 100 grams)1. Chau, Huang, and Chang (2005) have suggested that the passion fruit seeds' insoluble fiber might offer an effective functional ingredient to promote intestinal function and health2. They found that adding passion fruit seeds' insoluble fiber to a fiber-free diet could enhance the intestinal amylase activity and reduce the caecal pH and caecal ammonia content. Amylase is an important enzyme needed to convert complex sugars into simple sugars during digestion. A decrease in caecal pH and caecal ammonia in turn helps balance bacteria in the intestines and potentially reduce the risk of tumors in the colon. Additionally, insoluble fiber helps promote regular bowel movement and prevent constipation and hemorrhoids. It also helps transport toxins out of the body.References
1. Chau, C., Huang, Y. (2004). Characterization of passion fruit seed fibers — a potential fiber source. Food Chemistry, 85(2), 189-194
2. Chau, C., Huang, Y., & Chang, F. (2005). Effects of fiber derived from passion fruit seed on the activities of ileum mucosal enzymes and colonic bacterial enzymes in hamsters. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 85(12), 2119-2124
3. Sano S, Sugiyama K, Ito T, Katano Y, & Ishihata A. (2011). Identification of the strong vasorelaxing substance scirpusin B, a dimer of piceatannol, from passion fruit (Passiflora edulis) seeds. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 59(11), 6209-6213.