by Matt Gibson
Passion fruit, or passion flower, is a flowering tropical vine that is suited to warmer climates, such as those of South America, Australia, South Africa, and India. Also called passiflora, the vine produces a unique-looking fruit that has a soft pulp and a bunch of seeds, all contained by a hard outer rind. The rind is discarded upon harvesting, while the seeds, pulp, and juice are all collected and consumed. Keep reading to learn all about passion fruit and to find out the 12 surprising health benefits of this delicious tropical fruit and its nutrient-rich foliage, the passion fruit vine leaves.
Passion fruit and passion fruit vine leaves are both rich sources of important nutrients and the antioxidants that eliminate free radicals. The plant’s usage in natural healing circles has exploded in recent years. That’s because people’s perception of the fruit has gradually evolved from considering it an exotic treat to recognizing it as a curative superfood that can help with a long list of common ailments. As passion fruit has grown in popularity, studies have been conducted to illuminate a lengthy list of health benefits—both from consuming both the fruit and the leaves of this strange specialty plant.
Passion fruit began to gain a buzz among those in nutrition and natural health circles for its many health assets, including its abundance of naturally-occurring antioxidants. Of course, passion fruit and passion fruit vine leaves also have other reported health benefits, such as providing a rich source of fiber and other key nutrients that your body requires to function at its best. The passion fruit plant is also thought to naturally lower the body’s glycemic index, improve insulin sensitivity, boost the immune system, reduce anxiety and improve heart health.
Meanwhile, the leaves of the very same plant have their own list of surprising (yet similar) health benefits and that list is equally impressive. Passion fruit vine leaves can be added to any salad or soup, and they have a mild green leaf flavor subtle enough to allow you to add passion vine leaves to a recipe in bulk without overpowering the taste of your dish. Passion fruit leaves can be used both raw and cooked and are often used as a substitute for spinach in recipes.
The leaves can also be steeped in hot water to create a nutrient-rich tea that has anxiety-relieving properties. Passion fruit vine leaves are considered one of the top herbal dietary supplements on the market, so they have been used to treat nervousness, anxiety, irregular heartbeat, and high blood pressure, just to name a few.
Health Benefits of Passion Fruit and Passion Fruit Vine Leaf
1. Provides Key Nutrients
Passion fruit is loaded with fiber, antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins, and minerals that the human body requires or benefits from. Passion fruit contains vitamins A and C, riboflavin, niacin, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, copper, fiber, and protein. The percentages of vitamins and nutrients present in passion fruit are surprisingly high compared to other sources, making passion fruit a worthwhile addition to any diet.
2. High in Antioxidants
The antioxidants found in passion fruit are primarily touted because they have the ability to eliminate free radicals in the body. You’ve likely heard of free radicals because of their notorious ability to mutate healthy cells into cancerous cells.
3. Great Source of Fiber
Fiber is an essential component of a healthy diet, and foods that contain high amounts of dietary fiber (such as passion fruit) should be consumed regularly to keep your fiber count up high. This is because fiber keeps the stomach healthy and working hard to keep your digestive system functioning properly, preventing constipation and bowel disorders.
4. Low Glycemic Index
A 2017 study revealed that a compound called piceatannol, which is present in passion fruit, could be a natural way to lower a person’s insulin sensitivity. Further research may show that this special compound reduces the risk of many dangerous diseases, including diabetes.
5. Improve Eye Health
Passion fruit is rich in vitamin A, which plays an important role in eye health, including the prevention of macular degeneration, cataracts, and night blindness.
6. Supports Heart Health
Low in sodium and high in potassium, passion fruit is a no brainer for those of us who experience poor heart health. If you fall into this group, be sure to consume your passion fruit whole—seeds and all.
Passion fruit seeds are high in fiber, which makes them valuable in removing cholesterol from the inside of blood vessels. As you likely know from chats with your doctor, lowered cholesterol can reduce a person’s risk of heart disease. Diets low in sodium and high in potassium are also known to help reduce blood pressure.
7. Anxiety Reducer
Because it’s rich in magnesium, a mineral known to decrease anxiety, consuming passion fruit can actually help to calm your nerves. Passion fruit also contains an alkaloid called harman, which is believed to have sedative and soothing properties.
Eating passion fruit reduces cortisol levels due to its ability to alleviate stress and anxiety. Passion flower can help improve your body’s ability to respond to stress, and can help reduce the body’s attempts to accumulate and store fat. If all that isn’t enough to convince you, consider that compounds in passion flower have been shown to sedate the body’s central nervous system, a benefit that’s complemented perfectly by the fruit’s ability to relax the body’s muscles and lower blood pressure.
8. Immune System Booster
The immune-boosting properties of passion fruit are due to the vitamin C, carotene, and cryptoxanthin it contains. Vitamin C works to stimulate the activity of white blood cells as well as the rest of the immune system, protecting your body from common illnesses and serious illness simultaneously.
9. Cancer-Fighting Power
Any fruit or vegetable that has a high level of antioxidants in it is a great food to add to a cancer-fighting diet. Antioxidants kill the free radicals that mutate healthy cells into cancerous cells. Passion fruit also contains vitamin C, flavonoids, and phenolic compounds, all three of which have been proven to come along with cancer-fighting properties.
10. All-Natural Insomnia Cure
One naturally occurring compound that can be found in passion fruit is harman, which works as a sedative. When harman is ingested in large amounts, it can reduce restlessness and calm anxiety, two symptoms that can contribute to keeping you from getting a decent night’s sleep.
11. Soothes Respiratory Conditions
The Nutritional Research journal conducted a study that showed how certain extracts from purple passion fruit peel contain a mix of bioflavonoids that has a soothing effect on the respiratory system. The mixture they tested worked as an expectorant and sedative, and it had a positive effect against asthma, wheezing, and whooping cough.
12. Improves Bone Health
Iron, copper, magnesium, and phosphorus are all found in passion fruit, making it a rich source of the minerals that are important to bone health. These minerals play a vital role in increasing bone mineral density as well as increasing bone strength. The minerals contained in passion fruit help your bones create new bone material, strengthen existing bone material, and speed up the process of recovery and repair your body uses to heal when injuries occur.
Believed to be a native of the Amazon rainforest along the borders of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil, passion fruit has been used medicinally for centuries in the Amazon. The leaves were traditionally used as a poultice for pain relief as well as cuts and bruises, and tea was brewed from the leaves to help with insomnia.
There are over 500 varieties of passion fruit that vary widely in appearance. However, the fruit is usually yellow or purple and shaped like a grapefruit. Once you cut a passion fruit open, you will find the inside full of firm, juicy meat and a whole lot of small black seeds. The fruit grows on a creeper vine, which can wrap itself around any surface available.
The fruit can be enjoyed by itself as a sweet and tasty snack, added to recipes, or turned into juice, which then be either enjoyed as is or blended with other fruit juices. But don’t take our word for it—add passion fruit and passion fruit vine leaves to your diet today to see the health benefits for yourself.