Passion fruit has a unique ratio of flesh to seed. If you’ve ever tried to eat a passion fruit, you may have realized it’s quite difficult to eat only the flesh and avoid the seeds. So it’s hardly surprising that many people want to know: is it safe to eat passion fruit seeds? The answer is, absolutely!
Not only is it safe to eat passion fruit seeds, but researchers have found that the seeds contain an abundance of nutrients. In addition to the benefit of adding a nice crunch to juicy passion fruit flesh, the benefits of passion fruit seeds include improving the health of your heart, your digestive system, and more.
But there can be side effects associated with eating passion fruit seeds. Here’s what you should know.
What Is Passion Fruit?
Passion fruit grows on the passion fruit (Passiflora edulis) vine, which also produces exceptionally beautiful flowers. Reportedly, Christian missionaries gave the vine its English name because they believed parts of the flowers resembled the way biblical teachings describe elements of the resurrection of Christ.
The passion fruit vine grows naturally from southern Brazil through Paraguay and northern Argentina. It’s also cultivated commercially in many tropical and subtropical areas since its sweet, seedy fruit is so popular.
Passion fruit, which is technically a kind of berry, turns either yellow or dark purple when ripe. Passion fruits are round and typically about 3 inches long with a thick, waxy rind. The inside of the passion fruit contains sacs filled with a mixture of golden, gelatinous pulp and small, black seeds.
Is It Safe to Eat Passion Fruit Seeds?
As we already stated, yes, it’s safe to eat passion fruit seeds. Though the seeds can be quite tart, they’re entirely edible. They’re also loaded with nutrients that can benefit your health in a variety of ways.
Analysis indicates that passion fruit seeds contain:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Nicotinic acid
Passion fruit seeds are also a valuable source of polyphenolic compounds like piceatannol and scirpusin B. Plus, they’re loaded with fiber.
What Are the Benefits of Passion Fruit Seeds?
The nutrients contained in passion fruit can benefit your health in a number of ways. Here are five of the most exciting.
1. Combat Excess Free Radicals
Passion fruit seeds contains a wealth of compounds that have powerful antioxidant activity.
Research tells us that consuming antioxidant-rich foods, like passion fruit seeds, can improve your health in a number of ways. One of the most important effects of antioxidants is that they protect your body from the damage caused by excess free radicals, highly reactive molecules that can cause harm on a cellular level.
Ultimately, the damage done by free radicals can lead to the development of degenerative conditions including arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and more. Increasing your intake of foods that supply potent antioxidants can help to lower your odds of developing those conditions.
Ensuring an adequate intake of antioxidants also helps to optimize the health of your skin, meaning that passion fruit seeds have clear beauty benefits!
2. Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease
A study published in 2011 investigated how the major polyphenols found in passion fruit seeds can improve the health of your heart. The authors found that two of those polyphenols—picetannol and scirpusin—have impressive vasorelaxant effects.
Vasorelaxation is a medical term used to describe the widening of blood vessels that occurs when the smooth muscle cells within the blood vessel walls relax. This widening allows vascular pressure to decrease, which benefits the health of your entire cardiovascular system.
The study authors found that both piceatannol and scirpusin B had clear and exciting vasorelaxant effects on the aorta, the large artery that transports oxygen rich-blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Of the two, scirpusin had the strongest effect. The authors concluded that the polyphenols in passion fruit seeds may be an effective way to combat cardiovascular diseases.
3. Prevent Magnesium Deficiency
Passion fruit seeds also contain plenty of magnesium, an essential mineral that’s absolutely vital to your health and well-being. According to a 2017 clinical review, “nearly two-thirds of the population in the western world is not achieving the recommended daily allowance for magnesium, a deficiency problem contributing to various health conditions.”
We need magnesium to both prevent and treat conditions such as:
- Migraine headaches
- Metabolic syndrome
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Cardiac arrhythmias
The authors of the review determined that optimizing your magnesium intake by eating foods that contain this crucial nutrient, like passion fruit seeds, can be “a safe, useful, and well-documented” way to address conditions associated with low magnesium levels.
A 100-gram serving of passion fruit contains 29 milligrams of magnesium.
4. Improve Digestive Health
Passion fruit seeds provide a high dose of insoluble fiber. In fact, they’re made up of 90% insoluble fiber! A team of researchers hypothesized that their serious fiber content could mean that passion fruit seeds have major benefits for digestive health.
They found that passion fruit seeds enhanced amylase activity. Amylase, an enzyme, plays a major role in digestion by converting complex sugars into simple sugars. Additional digestive benefits of passion fruit seeds that the researchers identified include reducing caecal pH and caecal ammonia content, which helps balance bacteria in your intestines and reduces your risk of developing tumors in your colon.
5. Boost Immune System Function
A 100-gram serving of passion fruit offers up 50% of your daily recommended allowance of vitamin C (30 milligrams).
According to a study published in 2017, having a vitamin C deficiency “results in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections.” In other words, without enough vitamin C, you’re much more likely to get sick.
That’s because vitamin C contributes to your immune system’s defenses in a variety of ways, including improving the function of barriers that keep pathogens out of your body and helping to hunt down and destroy any pathogens that make it through.
The authors also noted that a dietary intake of vitamin C that provides adequate, or better still, “saturating” levels of vitamin C (100 to 200 milligrams daily), can help to both prevent and treat infections.
What Are the Side Effects of Passion Fruit Seeds?
While passion fruit seeds have a multitude of health benefits, there are some possible side effects associated with passion fruit seeds.
Consuming passion fruit seeds while taking certain medicines, including some types of antidepressants, can produce side effects. Be sure to consult your prescribing doctor about potential interactions with any drugs you’re currently taking.
The side effects associated with eating unripe passion fruit can be more detrimental. Botanical experts have determined that some varieties of unripe passion fruit can contain poisonous cyanogenic glycosides.
It’s unlikely that you’ll find these varieties for sale at grocery stores in the United States, but to be safe, make sure you select fully ripened fruit. In addition to keeping yourself safe from potentially ingesting toxins, you’ll also ensure that you avoid getting stuck with a bitter, unripe passion fruit.
How to Eat Passion Fruit
To ensure you eat only the most lusciously delicious passion fruit (and one free from toxins!), you always want to choose fruit that’s ripe to slightly overripe. Look for fruit with smooth skin that’s free of discoloration and bruises. The skin should be a vibrant yellow, orange, or purple color. If the skin still has a greenish hue, that indicates it’s not fully ripe yet. Green spots on the skin typically indicate that the fruit will be less juicy and sweet.
The simplest way to eat passion fruit is to slice it in half with a sharp knife, scoop out the flesh and seeds, and eat it plain. One thing to keep in mind is that the membrane that separates the seeds from the peel is very tart, so if you eat that, you may want to add a bit of your favorite sweetener.
Some people enjoy eating passion fruit after heating it up. To try this, scoop the seeds and pulp into a small saucepan and warm slowly over low heat. Remove from the heat after a few minutes, mix with cream and sugar, and enjoy!
Passion fruit is also delicious served mashed or sliced on top of a salad or ice cream.