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16 Interesting Facts About Loquats

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Introduction

Loquats are a delicious and nutritious fruit that has been enjoyed in Asia for over 2000 years. With their sweet and tangy flavor and impressive nutrient profile, loquats make a tasty addition to diets around the world. Though they resemble apricots in appearance, loquats have a flavor all their own – a mix of peach, citrus, and mild mango.

Beyond their vibrant color and unique taste, loquats offer an array of health benefits. They are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can boost immunity, improve digestion, promote healthy skin, and more. Loquats also have a rich and storied past, originating in ancient China before spreading across Asia and now cultivated globally.

If you have yet to try loquats, learning more about their history, culinary versatility, and health perks may inspire you to seek them out. Here are 16 interesting facts about loquats that highlight why these fruits are worth exploring:

Loquat Fruits
Loquat Fruits by alcides OTA is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 .

1. Loquats Originated in China Over 2000 Years Ago

The loquat tree is native to southeastern China, where it has been cultivated for over 2000 years. Chinese literature from the 10th century mentions loquats, illustrating their long history as a cultivated crop. Over time, loquat cultivation spread to other parts of Asia like Japan and India. Today, China remains the leading producer of loquats globally.

2. Loquats Are in the Rose Family

Though they resemble stone fruits like apricots and plums, loquats are actually members of the Rosaceae family along with apples, pears, cherries, peaches and almonds. Their scientific name, Eriobotrya japonica, highlights their relation to other Rosaceae fruits. Loquat trees also produce fragrant, white flowers reminiscent of their rose family ties.

3. There Are Over 800 Cultivars of Loquats

Hundreds of loquat cultivars exist thanks to years of cultivation, breeding and hybridization. Over 800 cultivars are grown globally, with different varieties exhibiting unique flavors, textures and appearances. Some popular cultivars include Early Red, Big Jim, Gold Nugget and Victory Vista White. New cultivars are still being developed as loquat production expands.

4. Loquats Are Sometimes Called “Japanese Plums”

Though native to China, loquats have a long history in Japan where they’ve been grown for over 1000 years. Their prevalence in Japanese cuisine has led to one of their common names – “Japanese plum.” However, they are not closely related to true plums. “Japanese medlar” is another name referencing their popularity in Japan.

5. The Trees Have Bold Evergreen Foliage

Loquat trees are evergreen with thick, dark green foliage that gives them visual appeal beyond their fruit. The leaves are arranged in spirals and have serrated edges reminiscent of roses. The bold foliage makes loquat trees excellent ornamental plants for gardens, and a great way to add vibrant greenery.

6. Loquats Are an Excellent Source of Vitamin A

A single loquat contains over 100% of the RDI for vitamin A per 100 grams. Vitamin A supports eye health, bone growth, immunity and more. The vitamin A in loquats comes from their orange-pigmented carotenoids that give them their vibrant color. Other fruits high in vitamin A include mangoes, apricots and red peppers.

7. They Also Provide Vitamin B6, Vitamin E and Folate

In addition to vitamin A, loquats offer a spectrum of other vitamins and minerals. A serving of loquats delivers around 5% of the RDI for vitamin B6, vitamin E and folate. Vitamin B6 aids metabolism and nerve cell communication. Vitamin E protects cell membranes. Folate plays a key role in DNA and cell division.

8. Loquats Are High in Antioxidants

Beyond conventional nutrients, loquats are rich in health-protective antioxidants like carotenoids and polyphenols. These compounds counter inflammation and oxidative stress underlying chronic diseases. The mix of antioxidants gives loquats free radical scavenging capacity on par with established antioxidant powerhouses like blueberries.

9. They Have Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

Research shows extracts from loquat leaves, seeds and pulp have anti-inflammatory effects in laboratory studies. Reduced inflammation protects against numerous chronic diseases. Specific compounds like triterpenes, ursolic acid and amygdalin appear central to loquats’ anti-inflammatory capacity.

10. Loquats May Help Control Blood Sugar

Animal and test tube studies reveal blood sugar lowering effects for compounds in loquats like polysaccharides and triterpenoids. Though human data is lacking, the preliminary research is encouraging for the potential anti-diabetic properties of loquats. Their fiber may also help moderate blood sugar spikes.

11. The Seeds Are Edible Too

In addition to enjoying loquat fruit pulp, the seeds are also edible once cooked. They have an almond-like flavor. Loquat seeds can be roasted and eaten whole, or ground into flours. In Japan, the seeds are used to make vinegar. Eating the seeds increases the nutrition gained from enjoying loquats.

12. Loquats Can Be Eaten Fresh or Used in Sweets

Beyond eating them fresh, loquats work well in various sweet preparations thanks to their peach/apricot-like flavor. They are delicious poached in syrups, baked into pies or tarts, made into jam, blended into smoothies, or turned into refreshing sorbets. Their sweet-tart taste shines through in desserts.

13. They Have a Place in Savory Dishes Too

While most often enjoyed in sweet foods, loquats can also be incorporated into savory dishes. Their slight acidity and subtle sweetness offset rich or salty flavors. Popular savory uses include loquat chutney, salsa, chicken stew with loquats, and loquat glazes for meat or tofu.

14. The Trees Have Environmental Benefits

In addition to producing nutritious fruit, loquat trees help the environment. Their dense canopy provides shade which cools climate. Falling leaves and fruit enrich soil nutrition. Loquat flowers also support bee populations as an early-blooming food source for pollinators. Overall the trees support biodiversity and ecological balance.

15. Loquats Grow Well in Mediterranean and Subtropical Climates

Loquats thrive best in warm, relatively humid environments similar to their native subtropical climate in China. They perform well in USDA zones 8 to 10, and also suit Mediterranean climates. Good drainage is essential as loquats are sensitive to overly wet soil. Shelter from cold winter winds helps sustain healthy trees.

16. Commercial Production Is Rising

Though loquats remain lesser known than other fruits, commercial cultivation is expanding globally. Plantings are increasing in their native range in Asia as well as Spain, Israel, Australia, the US, and more. Improved cultivation methods and productive new varieties are supporting larger-scale production.

Conclusion

Beyond their sweet and tangy flesh, loquats offer an array of nutrients and health-protective compounds that support wellness. Their versatility spanning sweet to savory dishes enables creative use. Loquats also have environmental benefits as sustainable fruit trees. With rising commercial cultivation, access to loquats is improving in markets globally. Discovering loquats is a journey into an intriguing, nutritious fruit with a rich past and ample future potential.


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