Health Benefits of Persimmons – The Ultimate Guide

Health Benefits of Persimmons

Persimmons are in the stores again, so let's take a look at this brightly colored and exotic fruit.

First, they have plenty of nutrition, including the ability to reduce symptoms of aging, improve heart health and increase immunity.

In fact, there are many different health benefits of persimmons (check them out now!) – far more than you may have imagined.

This post covers everything you need to know about persimmons from nutrition facts to even making a persimmon smoothie. 

With persimmon season just starting, now is the perfect time to go out and purchase some. They are a unique and healthy addition to your diet.

What Are Persimmons?

The persimmon fruit is round or oval, varying in color from yellow to red. It is a delicacy in East-Asian cultures and is now popular in our society as well.

The fruit belongs to the family Ebenacaea and genus Diospyros. Multiple species of trees produce the fruit, creating differences between them.

Persimmons are broken down into two general varieties, astringent and non-astringent. These vary considerably in their taste and texture. So, if you don’t like one type, you might like the other.

Persimmons come in many varieties. Some are astringent, others aren't

Health Benefits of Persimmons

Persimmons in a tree

Promotes Eye Health

Persimmons contain the compounds beta-carotene, zeaxanthin and lutein (1,2,3,4). All three are carotenoids and have been heavily researched for their role in eye health (5,6).

The vitamin C in persimmon can also have similar impacts (7). These areas make persimmons powerful for good eyesight – especially as people age.

Persimmons have compounds that may improve eye health

Improves Heart Health

Persimmons have been linked to heart health in a number of ways.

This includes improving endothelial function (8) and decreasing LDL cholesterol levels (9). Such effects could decrease heart disease risk.

The impact on cholesterol was linked to the tannins in persimmon, not the fruit itself (10). This suggests that you may see greater benefits from astringent persimmons, rather than non-astringent ones.

Additionally, many plant-based compounds improve heart health, including flavonoids (11,12), making persimmon powerful in this way too.

Persimmons can lower heart disease risk

May Lower Blood Pressure

A related benefit is the ability to decrease blood pressure (13). This also helps to protect against heart disease.

The impact comes from plant-based compounds in persimmon. Additionally, nutrients like potassium help to maintain blood pressure as well (14).

This effect is significant enough to create an interaction with blood pressure medications (15). As such, you should talk to your doctor if you are on medication or have a significant health condition.

Persimmons decrease blood pressure

Cancer Prevention

Like many whole foods, persimmon may help fight cancer. This is mostly because of the antioxidants that it contains and the way persimmon can lower oxidative stress (16,17,18).

For example, high oxidative stress increases the risk that reactive oxygen species (ROS) will cause DNA damage. That damage can potentially lead to cancer.

So, consuming enough antioxidants can lower cancer risk. And the best way to do so is through whole foods, like persimmon.

The antioxidants in persimmon can help reduce cancer risk

Promotes Healthy Aging

Many of the negative aspects of aging are related to oxidation (19). Theories suggest that getting enough antioxidants promotes a longer life and fewer age-related health issues (20,21).

The concept hasn’t been proven (22). But, whole foods like persimmon are a safe (and tasty!) inclusion to the diet and a good way to get your antioxidants.

Research also shows that high levels of flavonoid intake are associated with healthy aging (23). Persimmons are a good source of those compounds.

Persimmons may also help people stay healthy as they age

May Promote Weight Loss

Persimmon does contain sugar – so you should watch your intake.

Nevertheless, compounds in the fruit can also promote weight loss (24).

Studies are limited due to many confounding factors, but the potential is certainly there.

For example, one animal study suggested that persimmon may improve glucose and lipid metabolism (25).

Plus, fruit can still be a powerful part of a healthy weight loss approach and contains many important nutrients.

Some compounds in persimmon may contribute to weight loss, although research is in its early phases

Increases Immunity

The vitamin C content of persimmons makes them particularly relevant for immune system function. This nutrient helps to promote white blood cell production (26).

Those cells are critical for keeping us healthy.

The vitamin C in persimmon boosts the immune system

Improves Digestion

Persimmon is also a good source of fiber, with around 6 grams of fiber per fruit (27).

This fiber ensures that your digestive system works like it should. This includes preventing and relieving constipation (28).

Fiber also helps support a healthy gut microbiome (29). Having a healthy gut also promotes good digestion and improves health in other ways too.

Persimmons are a good source of fiber, which promotes digestive health

Types of Persimmon

Persimmons

As with any fruit, there are many types of persimmon. Some of these come from different species. Others are created through selective breeding.

But, they can be broken down into astringent and non-astringent categories.

Astringent Persimmons

Varieties: Hachiya, Eureka, Tamopan, Tanenashi, Triumph, Saijo (and many more)

Astringent persimmons are eaten when the flesh is soft and jelly-like. They also need to be completely ripe when you eat them. When ripe, they are incredibly sweet, almost as sweet as maple syrup.

The persimmon will often look orange and ripe long before it is actually ripe. So, you need to look for persimmons that are very soft.

The astringent nature of these persimmons is the result of the high levels of tannins present.

Astringent persimmons must be eaten when they are soft because of their tannin content

Non-Astringent Persimmons

Varities: Fuyu, Imoto, Jiro, Okugosho, Maekawakiro (and many more)

Non-astringent persimmons are crisper and can be eaten straight from the tree. Their texture is similar to an apple – and they are less sweet as well.

They can still be eaten when they’re soft too. This gives them a longer shelf-life.

Non-astringent persimmons can be eaten when firm or when soft

Other Persimmons

You can also find pollination-variant non-astringent persimmons – although they’re fairly uncommon.

Here, the persimmon flesh tends to be brown and the fruit can be eaten when it is still firm.

The flavor profile is also a little different and it can be an interesting alternative to try

The pollination-variant non-astringent persimmon is unusual but appealing

Persimmon Nutrition Facts

Square Persimmons

With multiple types of persimmon and many varieties, looking at nutritional information is tough. So, we’re going to consider just one variety Diospyros kaki, which is very common.

It’s also called the Asian persimmon, Japanese persimmon or the kaki persimmon, and it is an astringent persimmon.

The key nutrients in a single persimmon are (30):

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    Vitamin A (55% of DV)
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    Manganese (30% of DV)
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    Dietary Fiber (24% of DV)
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    Vitamin C (21% of DV)
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    Copper (9% of DV)
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    Potassium (8% of DV)

One important nutrient is manganese, which may help strengthen bones, especially in relation to osteoarthritis (31).

You also get significant vitamin C, which is critical for health and is thought to be one of the most important nutrients (32).

The fiber is also an important component of persimmon.

Fiber plays a large role in health, including helping to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, improving digestion and even helping with weight loss. Yet, most people don’t get enough fiber in their diet (33).

Finding ways to include fiber in the diet is an important approach for health and fruit is a key source of this fiber.

The nutrient composition isn’t amazing – and you’ll still get more in many vegetables (like kale). But, it remains a powerful addition to a healthy diet.

Persimmons contain a number of key nutrients, although the levels vary across varieties

Natural Compounds

The nutrients in persimmon are only one reason that the fruit is important for health.

Another reason is the natural compounds present, including the flavonoids and the flavanols (technically flavan-3-ols).

There are many different flavonoids and they vary from one species to the next. These are a key reason why plants are so important for health. Indeed, they are responsible for many of the health benefits discussed earlier.

Persimmon has many such compounds, including a few interesting ones (34).

One example is tannins, which are very common in persimmons, especially in fruit that is not fully ripe. This may make persimmons particularly relevant for health. That’s even more true for foods produced that contain tannins, such as persimmon leaf tea, persimmon vinegar and persimmon wine (35).

Two other key compounds in persimmon are epicatechin gallate (a flavanol) and gallic acid. These two compounds support the antioxidant activities of persimmon (36).

Additionally, persimmon may be a good source of the flavanol gallocatechol, which also has antioxidant potential.

The natural compounds in persimmon, including the flavonoids and carotenoids, may be related to many health benefits

Using Persimmon

Single persimmon

So then, persimmons offer a wide range of advantages to health. They’re also a nutritious fruit all around and a great addition to your diet.

How do you take advantage of them?

Eating Persimmons

Persimmons can be eaten cooked, dried or fresh, and the health benefits of fresh and dried persimmon are roughly the same (37).

Eating them fresh is the simplest approach. For most varieties, the persimmon can be cut into quarters or eaten whole in a similar way to an apple.

If the persimmon is very soft, this may not be possible.

One way around this is to remove the leaves on the top of the persimmon and eat the inside using a spoon. Alternatively, you can break the fruit open and eat it from the inside out.

While most people do eat persimmons raw, there are some good recipes that make use of persimmons, such as persimmon pudding and persimmon bread. There is also an interesting list of 10 warming persimmon recipes at The Kitchn.

In some cultures, dried persimmons are common. These can be eaten as is, and tend to be considered a dessert or a snack. They can also be used in cooking.

If you’re interested in dried persimmons, you can make them yourself using a dehydrator (like this one). Alternatively, you can buy pre-made dried persimmon.

However, be careful with the dried option. Because the water is removed, dried fruit has a higher concentration of sugar. Plus, it’s much easier to eat a large amount. This can make portion control more difficult and is something to be aware of. The same pattern occurs with prunes and dried figs as well.    

Persimmons are fairly simple to eat but the exact approach you take will depend on the softness of the fruit

Juicing Persimmon

Like mangos, persimmons aren’t typically juiced and don’t contain enough juice to make the process worthwhile.

However, you can puree a persimmon as part of a smoothie, which can be a fantastic way to get the nutrients. You can also freeze chunks of persimmon and use these as a base for smoothies.

For example, one type of smoothie with persimmon is one that uses coconut milk and orange juice. There are many different variations out there, such as a persimmon and tangerine smoothie along with a persimmon berry smoothie from the site Keepin’ it Kind. You might also add in other powerful ingredients, like wheatgrass powder or spirulina

While you can't really juice a persimmon, using the pureed flesh in smoothies does make a lot of sense

Selection and Storage

Selecting Persimmons

Availability

Persimmons are a highly seasonal fruit, typically available between late September and into December in the United States.

The two most common options in the United States are the Fuyu and the Hachiya varieties. These are both from the Diospyros kaki species (38) even though one is astringent and the other isn’t.

Fuyu persimmons are the non-astringent option. So, they can be eaten when the fruit is still firm. This variety of persimmon is shorter and wider than other varieties and tends to look a little bit like a tomato.

In contrast, the Hachiya persimmon tends to look more like an acorn and is astringent. This means that you have to wait until the persimmon is very ripe and soft before you eat it.

Selection

Regardless of the variety that you choose, you should look for persimmons that have taut and glossy skin.

Avoid any fruit that has bruises or soft spots as this will affect their quality and taste.

Storage

Fully ripe persimmons should be stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat them.

In contrast, if the persimmon is still firm (especially for astringent persimmons), you want to store them at room temperature until they have ripened.

Make sure you wait until persimmons are fully ripe before you eat them, as eating a persimmon too early can result in a bad stomachache and discomfort.

Safety

Persimmons are safe for human consumption, including by pregnant women.

The fruit can cause allergic reactions, but such reactions are rare (39).

However, persimmons can lower blood pressure. For most people, this is a good thing. But, if you’re on any blood pressure medication, you should consult your doctor first.

Persimmons have a limited season and you do need to be careful with selection and storage of the fruit

Benefits of Persimmon Leaves

The advantages of persimmon are not limited to the fruit itself. Instead, compounds in persimmon leaves have also been linked to improvements in health.

For example, persimmon leaves have significant antioxidant benefits (40), and this may strongly contribute to the role that they have held in Chinese folk medicine (41).

Additionally, the leaves also contain significant levels of flavonoids and terpenoids, and these are thought to also play a role in the health benefits of the leaves (42).

Other advantages include prevention and treatment of hypertension and diabetes, as well as inhibiting inflammation, helping to regulate immune function (43,44) and improving brain outcomes (45).

The leaves of persimmon also have significant antibacterial activities although the mechanism behind this remains unknown (46).

Most persimmon benefits are connected to the fruit but there are useful compounds in the leaves too

Eating Persimmon Leaves

The most common way to use the leaves is as a tea.

You can make tea from boiling water with persimmon leaves. The tea can be made either using fresh persimmon leaves or dried ones and the two approaches offer similar health benefits.

However, using dried leaves for the tea tends to produce a better taste overall. Even then, persimmon leaf tea is an acquired taste and some people find it more appealing than others.

Of course, you don’t have to harvest persimmon leaves yourself. Instead, there various persimmon leaf tea products out there. One good brand is Hankook Tea, while another is SsanggyeJeda Corp.

Companies may also add in other ingredients, which can make the tea more palatable.

To get benefits from persimmon leaves, the simplest way is to make a tea with them

Final Thoughts

We are getting more adventurous with our diets, and persimmon is one example of this pattern. While persimmon doesn’t have the large number of health benefits that pomegranates have, it is still a very important addition to the diet.

To improve your health overall, one of the best approaches that you can make is to include a range of different whole and natural foods, particularly fruits and vegetables.

Even if you haven’t tried them before, persimmons really can be a worthwhile addition and a great way to add a new taste and some variety into your diet.

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Health Benefits of Persimmon

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