Suburban Foraging: Loquats

Native to south-central China, loquat trees (Eriobotrya japonica) are small orange fruits that are similar to plums. Now naturalized throughout the world in moderate climates, they can be an easily accessed fruit that is high in vitamins and minerals. Below is a nutrient breakdown of the fruit:

% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0 g0%
Saturated fat 0 g0%
Polyunsaturated fat 0 g
Monounsaturated fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg0%
Sodium 0 mg0%
Potassium 43 mg1%
Total Carbohydrate 1.9 g0%
Dietary fiber 0.3 g1%
Protein 0.1 g0%
Vitamin A4%

When it comes to the fruit, the loquat tree is just the beginning. The leaves are also used to brew a tea. Traditionally used throughout Japan, the tea is highly regarded for its antioxidant properties. Providing further nutrient consumption the leaves are picked green, then dried and brewed into a tea can help reduce inflammation of the skin. This tree has been used for about the last 1,000 years so there is a lot of information on traditional uses and remedies to help treat different conditions.

Recently there has been a lot of research going into the utilizing the pits or seeds of the fruit. They contain 1300 times the amount of amygdalin (B17) then the leaves. Amygdalin converts to cyanide when consumed, its controversial use as a anti-cancer drug tends to downplay or outright viod the use of these compounds. Many seeds of fruits such as apricots, chokecherries, or peaches, contain amounts of amygdalin, and they have been used in small amounts for centuries. Dr. Krebs in the United States used laetrile, a synthesized version of amygdalin to fight certain types of cancer with little effect, and is very controversial at the moment. Only two major studies have been done to refute the efficacy of laetrile in cancer treatments, and research is still currently being done on the efficacy of non-synthetic laetrile. The cancer debate aside, natural amygdalin is used around the world for its effects in reducing blood pressure and for its antioxidant benefits.

Whether you use loquats for just the flavor sweet fruit or you want to gain therapeutic benefit its other properties, the trees can be an important ally in your late spring early summer foraging practice.

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