Healthsomeness Written Logo

Persimmons

This article is part of a larger article titled "100+ Healthiest Foods On Planet Earth."  Read it here.

Persimmons Nutritional Information (per 100g)

Water: 64.4 g
Calories: 127 kcal
Protein: 0.8 g
Carbohydrate: 33.5 g
Fat: 0.4 g
Vitamin C: 66 mg
Calcium: 27 mg
Iron: 2.5 mg
Phosphorus: 26 mg
Potassium: 310 mg
Sodium: 1 mg

Persimmons are the fruits of a number of different (though related) species of tree, and as such have quite a variety of culinary uses and nutritional values. Common species include the ‘American’ persimmon and the ‘Japanese’ persimmon, and these differing species also have a variety of different cultivars, so there’s a lot of variety in taste. As such, persimmons can be found in a wide variety of culinary traditions, from being used to make persimmon pudding and fruit pies in the U.S. Northwest, to punch and persimmon vinegar in Korea. And with a solid nutritional profile and a whole host of cancer-fighting benefits, the persimmon is a fantastic fruit to add to your diet.

Nutritionally, persimmons vary by species and variety, but on the whole are low calorie, with fairly high levels of essential nutrients, and a high sugar value (watch out for that!). American persimmons are very high in vitamin C: 100g of persimmon (roughly 4 fruits), contains 110% of your Daily Value (DV) of vitamin C, for just 127 calories. American persimmons also contain 13% DV of iron and 8% of potassium.

Japanese persimmons differ slightly, being higher in vitamin A: one fruit (168g) contains 118 calories, 54% DV of vitamin A, 24% DV of vitamin A, 21% DV of vitamin C, 10% DV of vitamin B6. All are essential nutrients, deficiencies in which can lead to a variety of common health issues (everything from tiredness to cardiovascular disease), so pack in those persimmons!

Beyond the variety of nutritional benefits you can get from the variety of different kinds of persimmon, persimmons also contain compounds with proven health benefits: specifically, strong anti-cancer effects. The first of these important compounds is called betulinic acid. Betulinic acid has been proven to be toxic to tumour cells, but not to other human cells. Specifically, betulinic acid has been found to be toxic to melanoma (a tumour of melanin-forming cells, often skin cancer), neuroectodermal tumours (tumours of the nervous system), and malignant brain tumours.

This may be explained by betulinic acid having ‘apoptotic’ effect (‘apoptosis’ is essentially induced cell suicide): the ability of betulinic acid to cause apoptosis in tumours has been proven with leukaemia, with melanoma, and with neuroectodermal tumours. What all of this means is that betulinic acid is fantastic at fighting a number of different varieties of cancer, and may even eventually help with cancer treatments in the future.

The other important compounds are catechin and gallogatechin, two phytonutrients which persimmons are high in. These compounds are actually found in green tea as well, and are the source of many of the claims of green tea’s health benefits. What is significant about these two compounds is that they have proven health benefits: gallocatechins have proven antioxidant potential, and catechins have been investigated for helping with weight loss.

With free radical damage (which antioxidants prevent) leading to DNA damage and cell death, resulting in all kinds of health risks from possible cancer risks to cardiovascular disease; and obesity being such a huge problem in the developed world, introducing these compounds into your diet in whatever way you can is certainly going to do good things.