Passion Fruit is native to the wild subtropical region of South America. It probably originated in southern Brazil, Paraguay to northern Argentina. When Christian missionaries came to South America in the 16th century, they saw the flower of the passion fruit and somehow associated the flower with the sufferings of Christ. They named it “Flor de las cinco llagas” or “Flower of the five wounds”.
This exotic fruit is a member of the passifloraceae family. It’s a strong, vigorous climbing vine and can grow on anything that it can grab or cling to. They need to grow on well drained, fertile soil with good moisture in order to flourish. This plant is a fast grower and can reach a height of 15 to 20 feet per year and with an average life span of 5 to 7 years. The fruit is oval in shape with a smooth waxy skin and littered with fine white specks. It consist of a membranous sac with light orange pulpy juice and numerous small black seeds. It is pleasantly sweet and tart in taste.
There are two well-known types of passion fruits, the purple and the yellow cultivars. The purple passion fruit is commonly consumed fresh while the yellow passion fruit is used for juice processing and for making jams and preserves. It has an intense aromatic flavor characteristic that makes it a natural ingredient for juice blends. It is widely grown in California, the Monterey Bay Area and San Francisco Bay Area.
Passion fruit is not only great tasting, but is also brimming with health benefits. A storehouse of vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and fiber.
It is effective in fighting free radicals, which are produced in the body due to increased pollution. The alkaloid present in passion fruit can lower blood pressure and has an antispasmodic and sedative action. Its rich amount of vitamin B2, B6, Choline and folate that supports the mucous membranes in the digestive tract. Helps maintain a mental health and brain function. It also improves blood circulation by lowering bad cholesterol levels in the body. Passion fruit is full of beta carotene to fight off high blood pressure, cancer and heart disease. It also encourages good bone and tooth development, reduce the risk of infertility, arthritis, depression and even Parkinson’s disease.
Having an asthma attack? Take a glass of passion fruit juice for a soothing effect. Its vitamin C content will block histamine that causes asthma symptoms. If you’re having difficulty sleeping at night, a glass of passion fruit juice before bedtime will calm down your nervous system to give you restful sleep.
Passion fruit taken as food and in moderation is safe. When used as herbal medicine, it is best to get some advice from your doctor first. May cause nausea and drowsiness when taken in large amount.
Try this simple passion fruit milk shake: 1 cup milk + 2 scoops chocolate ice cream + 2 passion fruits = I’m in dreamland!
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