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3 Reasons to Eat Antioxidant-Rich Passion Fruit

Health + Wellness

By Helen West

Passion fruit is a nutritious tropical fruit. It's gaining popularity, especially among those who are health conscious.

Despite its small size, it's a rich source of antioxidants and contains a range of vitamins and plant compounds that could benefit your health.

This article is a detailed review of passion fruit.

What Is Passion Fruit?

This tropical fruit is actually considered a type of berry. It is the fruit of the Passiflora vine, a type of passion flower.

It has a tough outer rind and juicy, seed-filled center.

There are several types, which can vary in size and color. The most commonly available are the purple and yellow varieties.

These are:

  • Passiflora edulis: Small round or oval-shaped fruits with purple skin.
  • Passiflora flavicapa: Usually slightly larger than the purple variety, these are round or oval-shaped with yellow skin.

This is what passion fruit looks like:

Although they are a tropical fruit, some varieties can survive in a sub-tropical climate.

Because of this, they are grown all over the world and crops can be found in South and North America, Asia, Europe and Australia.

Bottom Line: Passion fruit is a type of berry grown all over the world. It has a hard, colorful rind and a juicy, seed-filled center.

Passion Fruit Is Highly Nutritious

Passion fruit is a good source of nutrients, especially fiber, vitamin C and vitamin A.

A single purple passion fruit of about 18 grams contains (1):

  • Calories: 17
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Vitamin C: 9 percent of the RDI
  • Vitamin A: 8 percent of the RDI
  • Iron: 2 percent of the RDI
  • Potassium: 2 percent of the RDI

This may not seem like much, but these are the values for a single, small fruit that contains only 17 calories. Calorie for calorie, it's a good source of fiber, vitamin C and vitamin A.

It's also rich in beneficial plant compounds, including carotenoids and polyphenols.

In fact, one analysis found that passion fruit was richer in polyphenols than many other tropical fruits, including banana, lychee, mango, papaya and pineapple (2).

Additionally, passion fruit contains a small amount of iron.

Your body doesn't usually absorb iron from plants very well. However, the iron in passion fruit comes with a lot of vitamin C, which is known to enhance iron's absorption (3).

Bottom Line: Passion fruit is a good source of fiber, vitamin C and vitamin A. Calorie for calorie, it's a nutrient-dense fruit.

Health Benefits of Passion Fruit

The nutrition profile of passion fruit means it has some great health benefits.

It's a Rich Source of Antioxidants

Antioxidants protect your body from free radicals, unstable molecules that can damage your cells when they are present in large numbers (4).

Passion fruit contains a lot of antioxidants.

In particular, it's a rich source of vitamin C, beta-carotene and polyphenols.

Polyphenols are plant compounds that have a range of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. This means they may protect against chronic inflammation and diseases like heart disease and cancer (2, 5, 6).

Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that you need to get from your diet. It helps support a healthy immune system and healthy aging (7, 8, 9, 10, 11).

Beta-carotene is also an important antioxidant. In your body, it is converted to vitamin A, which is essential for preserving good eyesight.

Diets that contain lots of beta-carotenes from plant foods have been linked with a lower risk of some cancers. These include prostate, colon, stomach and breast cancer (12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17).

It's a Good Source of Dietary Fiber

A single 18-gram serving of passion fruit contains around 2 grams of fiber, most of which is soluble fiber.

This is quite a large amount for such a small fruit.

Fiber is important for keeping your gut healthy and preventing constipation, yet most people don't eat enough of it (18).

Soluble fiber helps slow the digestion of your food, which can prevent blood sugar spikes (19).

Diets that are high in fiber are also associated with a lower risk of diseases including heart disease, diabetes and obesity (20).

Bottom Line: Passion fruit is a rich source of antioxidants and dietary fiber. Diets rich in these nutrients have been linked with a lower risk of diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

Passion Fruit Peel Supplement May Help Reduce Inflammation

The high antioxidant content of passion fruit peels may give them powerful anti-inflammatory effects when they're taken as a supplement.

One small study investigated the effects of a purple passion fruit peel supplement on symptoms of asthma over four weeks (21).

The group who took the supplement experienced a reduction in wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath.

However, this was a very small study, so further research is required before it's known if this therapy is helpful for those with asthma.

Other research has examined the effects of purple passion fruit peel extract on joint pain and function in people with knee osteoarthritis. This is a painful condition caused by inflammation in the knee joint (22).

The researchers found that people who took the supplement reported less pain and stiffness in their joints than those who didn't.

Overall, the effects of antioxidants on inflammation and pain in osteoarthritis are still unclear and more research is needed.

Bottom Line: Passion fruit peel supplements may have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. They may be beneficial for people with asthma and osteoarthritis, but more research is required.

Problems With Passion Fruit

Passion fruit is perfectly safe for most people to eat, but allergies do occur in a small number of people.

Those with a latex allergy appear to be most at risk of a passion fruit allergy (23, 24).

This is because some of the plant proteins in the fruit have a similar structure to the latex proteins that can trigger an allergic reaction in some people.

Purple passion fruit skin may also contain chemicals called cyanogenic glycosides. These can combine with enzymes to form the poison cyanide and are therefore potentially poisonous in large amounts (25, 26).

The fruit's hard outer skin isn't usually considered edible.

Bottom Line: Passion fruit allergy is rare but some cases do occur. People with a latex allergy are at greater risk.

How to Eat Passion Fruit

To eat this tropical fruit, you need to slice or rip open the rind to expose the colorful, juicy flesh and seeds.

When they are open, passion fruits look like this:

The seeds are edible, so you can eat them together with the colorful flesh and juice.

The white film separating the rind from the flesh is also edible, but most people don't eat it since it's very bitter.

Passion fruit is a very versatile fruit and can be used in a variety of ways. Many people enjoy the fruit raw and eat it straight out of the rind.

Some of the more popular ways to use passion fruit include:

  • Drinks: It can be squeezed through a sieve to make juice, added to cocktails or used to make a cordial to flavor water, like this.
  • Desserts: It is often used as a topping or flavoring for cakes and desserts, like this cheesecake or this mousse.
  • On salads: It can be used to add a crunchy texture and sweet flavor to salads like this one.
  • In yogurts: Mix it with natural yogurt to make a delicious snack.

Bottom Line: Passion fruit is extremely versatile. You can eat it on its own or add it to drinks, desserts and yogurt. It can also be used to make delicious salad dressings.

Take Home Message

If you're looking for a nutritious and tasty snack, passion fruit is a great choice.

It's low in calories and high in nutrients, fiber and antioxidants—all of which make passion fruit an excellent addition to your diet.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.

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Given the present circumstances, Norway does not have either the legal or the technical basis for making its annual contribution to the Amazon Fund.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro reacted with sarcasm to Norway's decision, which had been widely expected. After an official event, he commented: "Isn't Norway the country that kills whales at the North Pole? Doesn't it also produce oil? It has no basis for telling us what to do. It should give the money to Angela Merkel [the German Chancellor] to reforest Germany."

According to its website, the Amazon Fund is a "REDD+ mechanism created to raise donations for non-reimbursable investments in efforts to prevent, monitor and combat deforestation, as well as to promote the preservation and sustainable use in the Brazilian Amazon." The bulk of funding comes from Norway and Germany.

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An Uncertain Future

The Amazon Fund was announced during the 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, during a period when environmentalists were alarmed at the rocketing rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. It was created as a way of encouraging Brazil to continue bringing down the rate of forest conversion to pastures and croplands.

Government agencies, such as IBAMA, Brazil's environmental agency, and NGOs shared Amazon Fund donations. IBAMA used the money primarily to enforce deforestation laws, while the NGOs oversaw projects to support sustainable communities and livelihoods in the Amazon.

There has been some controversy as to whether the Fund has actually achieved its goals: in the three years before the deal, the rate of deforestation fell dramatically but, after money from the Fund started pouring into the Amazon, the rate remained fairly stationary until 2014, when it began to rise once again. But, in general, the international donors have been pleased with the Fund's performance, and until the Bolsonaro government came to office, the program was expected to continue indefinitely.

Norway has been the main donor (94 percent) to the Amazon Fund, followed by Germany (5 percent), and Brazil's state-owned oil company, Petrobrás (1 percent). Over the past 11 years, the Norwegians have made, by far, the biggest contribution: R$3.2 billion ($855 million) out of the total of R$3.4 billion ($903 million).

Up till now the Fund has approved 103 projects, with the dispersal of R$1.8 billion ($478 million). These projects will not be affected by Norway's funding freeze because the donors have already provided the funding and the Brazilian Development Bank is contractually obliged to disburse the money until the end of the projects. But there are another 54 projects, currently being analyzed, whose future is far less secure.

One of the projects left stranded by the dissolution of the Fund's committees is Projeto Frutificar, which should be a three-year project, with a budget of R$29 million ($7.3 million), for the production of açai and cacao by 1,000 small-scale farmers in the states of Amapá and Pará. The project was drawn up by the Brazilian NGO IPAM (Institute of Environmental research in Amazonia).

Paulo Moutinho, an IPAM researcher, told Globo newspaper: "Our program was ready to go when the [Brazilian] government asked for changes in the Fund. It's now stuck in the BNDES. Without funding from Norway, we don't know what will happen to it."

Norway is not the only European nation to be reconsidering the way it funds environmental projects in Brazil. Germany has many environmental projects in the Latin American country, apart from its small contribution to the Amazon Fund, and is deeply concerned about the way the rate of deforestation has been soaring this year.

The German environment ministry told Mongabay that its minister, Svenja Schulze, had decided to put financial support for forest and biodiversity projects in Brazil on hold, with €35 million ($39 million) for various projects now frozen.

The ministry explained why: "The Brazilian government's policy in the Amazon raises doubts whether a consistent reduction in deforestation rates is still being pursued. Only when clarity is restored, can project collaboration be continued."

Bauxite mines in Paragominas, Brazil. The Bolsonaro administration is urging new laws that would allow large-scale mining within Brazil's indigenous reserves.

Hydro / Halvor Molland / Flickr

Alternative Amazon Funding

Although there will certainly be disruption in the short-term as a result of the paralysis in the Amazon Fund, the governors of Brazil's Amazon states, which rely on international funding for their environmental projects, are already scrambling to create alternative channels.

In a press release issued yesterday Helder Barbalho, the governor of Pará, the state with the highest number of projects financed by the Fund, said that he will do all he can to maintain and increase his state partnership with Norway.

Barbalho had announced earlier that his state would be receiving €12.5 million ($11.1 million) to run deforestation monitoring centers in five regions of Pará. Barbalho said: "The state governments' monitoring systems are recording a high level of deforestation in Pará, as in the other Amazon states. The money will be made available to those who want to help [the Pará government reduce deforestation] without this being seen as international intervention."

Amazonas state has funding partnerships with Germany and is negotiating deals with France. "I am talking with countries, mainly European, that are interested in investing in projects in the Amazon," said Amazonas governor Wilson Miranda Lima. "It is important to look at Amazônia, not only from the point of view of conservation, but also — and this is even more important — from the point of view of its citizens. It's impossible to preserve Amazônia if its inhabitants are poor."

Signing of the EU-Mercusor Latin American trading agreement earlier this year. The pact still needs to be ratified.

Council of Hemispheric Affairs

Looming International Difficulties

The Bolsonaro government's perceived reluctance to take effective measures to curb deforestation may in the longer-term lead to a far more serious problem than the paralysis of the Amazon Fund.

In June, the European Union and Mercosur, the South American trade bloc, reached an agreement to create the largest trading bloc in the world. If all goes ahead as planned, the pact would account for a quarter of the world's economy, involving 780 million people, and remove import tariffs on 90 percent of the goods traded between the two blocs. The Brazilian government has predicted that the deal will lead to an increase of almost $100 billion in Brazilian exports, particularly agricultural products, by 2035.

But the huge surge this year in Amazon deforestation is leading some European countries to think twice about ratifying the deal. In an interview with Mongabay, the German environment ministry made it very clear that Germany is very worried about events in the Amazon: "We are deeply concerned given the pace of destruction in Brazil … The Amazon Forest is vital for the atmospheric circulation and considered as one of the tipping points of the climate system."

The ministry stated that, for the trade deal to go ahead, Brazil must carry out its commitment under the Paris Climate agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent below the 2005 level by 2030. The German environment ministry said: If the trade deal is to go ahead, "It is necessary that Brazil is effectively implementing its climate change objectives adopted under the [Paris] Agreement. It is precisely this commitment that is expressly confirmed in the text of the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement."

Blairo Maggi, Brazil agriculture minister under the Temer administration, and a major shareholder in Amaggi, the largest Brazilian-owned commodities trading company, has said very little in public since Bolsonaro came to power; he's been "in a voluntary retreat," as he puts it. But Maggi is so concerned about the damage Bolsonaro's off the cuff remarks and policies are doing to international relationships he decided to speak out earlier this week.

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Maggi, a ruralista who strongly supports agribusiness, told the newspaper, Valor Econômico, that, even if the European Union doesn't get to the point of tearing up a deal that has taken 20 years to negotiate, there could be long delays. "These environmental confusions could create a situation in which the EU says that Brazil isn't sticking to the rules." Maggi speculated. "France doesn't want the deal and perhaps it is taking advantage of the situation to tear it up. Or the deal could take much longer to ratify — three, five years."

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