The loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is a tree native to China that's prized for its sweet, citrus-like fruit.
Loquats are small, round fruits that grow in clusters. Their color varies from yellow to red-orange, depending on the variety.
Loquat fruit, seeds, and leaves are packed with powerful plant compounds and have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years.
Recent research suggests that loquats may offer a variety of health benefits, including protection against some diseases.
Here are 7 surprising health benefits of loquats.
1. High in Nutrients
Loquats are low-calorie fruits that provide numerous vitamins and minerals, making them very nutritious.
One cup (149 grams) of cubed loquats contains (1):
- Calories: 70
- Carbs: 18 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Provitamin A: 46% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin B6: 7% of the DV
- Folate (vitamin B9): 5% of the DV
- Magnesium: 5% of the DV
- Potassium: 11% of the DV
- Manganese: 11% of the DV
These fruits are particularly high in carotenoid antioxidants, which prevent cellular damage and may protect against disease. Carotenoids are also precursors to vitamin A, which is essential for healthy vision, immune function, and cellular growth (2Trusted Source).
Additionally, loquats contain small amounts of vitamin C, thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), copper, iron, calcium, and phosphorus.
Loquats are low-calorie fruits that provide an array of nutrients, including provitamin A, several B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and manganese.
2. Packed With Plant Compounds
Loquats' plant compounds benefit your health in several ways.
For example, they're an excellent source of carotenoid antioxidants, including beta carotene — though darker, red or orange varieties tend to offer more carotenoids than paler ones (8Trusted Source).
A review of 7 studies also associated high beta carotene intake with a significantly lower risk of death from all causes, compared with low beta carotene intake (12Trusted Source).
What's more, loquats are rich in phenolic compounds, which possess antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties and may help safeguard against several conditions, including diabetes and heart disease (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
Loquats are an excellent source of carotenoids and phenolic compounds, which offer plenty of health benefits.
3. May Promote Heart Health
Loquats may bolster heart health due to their concentration of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Carotenoids have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that help prevent plaque buildup in your arteries, which is the leading cause of heart disease and heart-disease-related death (21Trusted Source).
In fact, studies reveal that people who eat more carotenoid-rich foods have a significantly reduced risk of heart disease, compared with those who eat fewer of these foods (22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).
Loquats are rich in potassium, magnesium, carotenoids, and phenolic compounds, all of which may boost heart health and protect against heart disease.
4. May Have Anticancer Properties
For instance, one test-tube study showed that extract from loquat fruit skins significantly inhibited the growth and spread of human bladder cancer cells (26).
Additionally, substances in loquats' skin and flesh, including carotenoids and phenolic compounds, are known to possess anticancer properties.
Beta carotene has exhibited cancer-fighting effects in both test-tube and animal studies, while chlorogenic acid — a phenolic compound — has been shown to suppress tumor growth in multiple test-tube studies (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).
Nonetheless, more studies on loquats are needed.
Though loquats may have anticancer properties, more research is necessary.
5. May Improve Metabolic Health
Loquats may improve metabolic health by reducing levels of triglycerides, blood sugar, and insulin — a hormone that helps move blood sugar into your cells to be used for energy.
Various parts of the loquat tree, including its leaves and seeds, have long been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat metabolic issues like high blood sugar (35Trusted Source).
However, human studies are necessary.
Loquat fruit, leaves, and seeds may benefit several aspects of metabolic health, but human studies are lacking.
6. May Offer Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Some research suggests that loquats have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
In a test-tube study, loquat juice significantly increased levels of an anti-inflammatory protein called interleukin-10 (IL-10) while significantly decreasing levels of two inflammatory proteins — interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) (42).
Additionally, a rodent study found that supplementing with loquat fruit extract reduced overall inflammation caused by a high-sugar diet and significantly lowered levels of endotoxins, a type of inflammatory substance, in the liver (43Trusted Source).
These potent anti-inflammatory effects are likely due to loquats' wide array of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. All the same, human research is needed.
Test-tube and animal research suggests that loquats may have powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
7. Versatile and Scrumptious
Loquats grow in semitropical environments. In these regions, they may be purchased from local farmers or even grown in backyards.
If you live in a colder climate, they're harder to find but may be available at specialty grocery stores depending on the time of year.
Loquats taste sweet, yet slightly tart, with notes of citrus. Be sure to choose fully ripe loquats, as immature fruit is sour. Ripe ones turn a bright yellow-orange and are soft to the touch.
As loquats rot quickly, you should eat them within a few days of purchase.
You can add them to your diet in a variety of ways, including:
- raw, paired with cheese or nuts as a snack
- tossed into a fruit salad
- stewed with maple syrup and cinnamon as a sweet topping for oatmeal
- baked into pies and cakes
- made into jam or jelly
- added to a smoothie alongside spinach, Greek yogurt, avocado, coconut milk, and frozen banana
- combined with peppers, tomatoes, and fresh herbs for a delectable salsa
- cooked and served with meat or poultry as a sweet side
- juiced for cocktails and mocktails
If you aren't planning on enjoying loquats immediately, you can refrigerate them for up to 2 weeks. You can also dehydrate, can, or freeze them to extend their shelf life (44).
Loquats' sweet, slightly tart taste pairs well with many dishes. These fruits are delicate and don't keep for long, so you may want to preserve them through freezing, canning, or dehydrating. You can also make them into jams and jellies.
The Bottom Line
Loquats are delicious fruits that offer a variety of health benefits.
They're low in calories but boast plenty of vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory plant compounds.
Plus, some research suggests that they may safeguard against certain conditions, such as heart disease and cancer, as well as reduce blood sugar, triglyceride, and insulin levels.
If you're curious, try to find loquats at your local specialty store. You can also buy loquat tea, syrup, candy, and seedlings online.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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From the mythical minotaur to the mule, creatures created from merging two or more distinct organisms – hybrids – have played defining roles in human history and culture. However, not all hybrids are as fantastic as the minotaur or as dependable as the mule; in fact, some of them cause human diseases.
When Looking Through a Microscope Isn’t Close Enough.<p>For the last few years, <a href="http://www.rokaslab.org/" target="_blank">our team at Vanderbilt University</a>, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/lab/Gustavo-Goldman-Lab" target="_blank">Gustavo Goldman's team at São Paulo University in Brazil</a> and many other collaborators around the world have been collecting samples of fungi from patients infected with different species of <em>Aspergillus</em> molds. One of the species we are particularly interested in is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/rwgn.2001.0082" target="_blank"><em>Aspergillus nidulans</em>, a relatively common and generally harmless fungus</a>. Clinical laboratories typically identify the species of <em>Aspergillus</em> causing the infection by examining cultures of the fungi under the microscope. The problem with this approach is that very closely related species of <em>Aspergillus</em> tend to look very similar in their broad morphology or physical appearance when viewing them through a microscope.</p><p>Interested in examining the varying abilities of different <em>A. nidulans</em> strains to cause disease, we decided to analyze their total genetic content, or genomes. What we saw came as a total surprise. We had not collected <em>A. nidulans</em> but <em>Aspergillus latus</em>, a close relative of <em>A. nidulans</em> and, as we were to soon find out, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.04.071" target="_blank">a hybrid species that evolved through the fusion of the genomes</a> of two other <em>Aspergillus</em> species: <em>Aspergillus spinulosporus</em> and an unknown close relative of <em>Aspergillus quadrilineatus</em>. Thus, we realized not only that these patients harbored infections from an entirely different species than we thought they were, but also that this species was the first ever <em>Aspergillus</em> hybrid known to cause human infections.</p>
Several Different Fungal Hybrids Cause Human Disease.<p>Hybrid fungi that can cause infections in humans are well known to occur in several different lineages of single-celled fungi known as yeasts. Notable examples include multiple different species of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/yea.3242" target="_blank">yeast hybrids</a> that cause the human diseases <a href="https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/6218/cryptococcosis" target="_blank">cryptococcosis</a> and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html" target="_blank">candidiasis</a>. Although pathogenic yeast hybrids are well known, our discovery that the <em>A. latus</em> pathogen is a hybrid is a first for molds that cause disease in humans.</p>
(Left) Candida yeasts live on parts of the human body. Imbalance of microbes on the body can allow these yeasts, some of which are hybrids, to grow and cause infection. (Right) Cryptococcus yeasts, including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008315" target="_blank">Why certain <em>Aspergillus</em> species are so deadly</a> while others are harmless remains unknown. This may in part be because <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbr.2007.02.007" target="_blank">combinations of traits, rather than individual traits</a>, underlie organisms' ability to cause disease. So why then are hybrids frequently associated with human disease? Hybrids inherit genetic material from both parents, which may result in new combinations of traits. This may make them more similar to one parent in some of their characteristics, reflect both parents in others or may differ from both in the rest. It is precisely this mix and match of traits that hybrids have inherited from their parental species that <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/science/14creatures.html" target="_blank">facilitates their evolutionary success</a>, including their ability to cause disease.</p>
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How A. Latus Differs From its Parents.<p>Elucidating the identity of closely related fungal pathogens and how they differ from each other in infection-relevant characteristics is a key step toward reducing the burden of fungal disease. For example, we found that <em>A. latus</em> was three times more resistant than <em>A. nidulans</em>, the species it was originally identified as using microscopy-based methods, to one of the most common antifungal drugs, <a href="https://www.drugbank.ca/drugs/DB00520" target="_blank">caspofungin</a>. This result provides a clear example of the potential importance of accurate identification of the <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogen causing an infection.</p><p>We also examined how <em>A. latus</em> and <em>A. nidulans</em> interact with cells from our immune system. We found that immune cells were less efficient at combating <em>A. latus</em> compared to <em>A. nidulans</em>, suggesting the hybrid fungus may be trickier for our immune systems to identify and destroy.</p><p>In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our quest to understand <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogens is becoming more urgent. Growing evidence suggests that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/myc.13096" target="_blank">a fraction of COVID-19 patients are also infected with <em>Aspergillus</em>.</a> More worrying is that these <a href="https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2607.201603" target="_blank">secondary <em>Aspergillus</em> infections</a> can worsen the clinical outcomes for those infected with the novel coronavirus. That being said, we stress that little is known about <em>Aspergillus</em> infections in COVID-19 patients due to a lack of systematic testing, and none of the infections identified so far appear to have been caused by hybrids.</p><p>So, when it comes to hybrids, some are fantastic (the minotaur), some are helpful (the mule) and some are dangerous (<em>Aspergillus latus</em>). Understanding more about the biology of <em>Aspergillus latus</em> may help in our understanding of how microbial pathogens arise and how to best prevent and combat their infections.</p>
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