What Is Passion Fruit?
Passion fruit sounds exotic, but it doesn't look that way. At least at first. It grows on climbing passion flower vines in tropical regions like Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii, and from the outside, it looks small and egg-shaped, with yellow or purple skin. You might confuse it for a small lemon or plum -- until you slice it in half.
Inside, it's filled with crunchy seeds in juicy yellow pulp.
The passion fruit got its name because priests in the 1500s thought parts of the passion flower symbolized the "passion," or suffering and death, of Jesus. The fruit, also called granadilla and maracuya, ended up with the name, too.
Passion fruit tastes sweet and tart, and it has a distinct smell often reproduced in bath products and candles. Only the pulp and seeds are OK to eat, and there are a lot of health benefits in just a few spoonfuls.
Passion Fruit Health Benefits
- Vitamin C. Move over, oranges. Passion fruit is full of this antioxidant. Your body uses it to make blood vessels, cartilage, muscles, and collagen, which keeps skin looking young. It also helps your body heal, lowers inflammation, and protects your cells from damage. When you get enough vitamin C, it lowers your chances of getting colds and certain types of cancers.
- Vitamin A. Passion fruit's pulp and crunchy seeds have 8% of the vitamin A you need every day. It's a key to healthy eyes and cells, reproduction, and immunity.
- Fiber. Passion fruit has a lot of it. Fiber keeps your bowels healthy and moving, and it makes you feel fuller longer. It also lowers your cholesterol and your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and certain kinds of cancer.
- Nutrients. Passion fruit also gives your body calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and folate. These help your kidneys, nerves, muscles, and heart rhythm in big ways.
Passion Fruit Nutrition
One purple passion fruit has:
- 17 calories
- 2 grams of fiber
- 6%-7% of daily recommended vitamin C
- 1%-2% of daily recommended vitamin A
- 1.6%-3.6% of daily recommended iron
- 1.8%-2.4% of daily recommended potassium
Passion Fruit Risks
Passion fruit is usually safe to eat and good for you, but some people are allergic to it. This is more likely if you’re allergic to latex.
People allergic to passion fruit or latex might also react to fruits such as:
Passion fruit pulp also contains a toxin called cyanogenic glycoside. This chemical can cause cyanide poisoning in high amounts. It’s highest in very young, unripe fruits. Once the fruit is ripe, it’s safe to eat.
Passion Fruit Preparation
Where to find it. Passion fruit isn't available everywhere. But you may find it in farmers markets or organic markets when it's in season.
How to choose one. Look for passion fruit that has thick skin and feels heavy for its size. Many think wrinkled skin means it's ripe, but that's a myth. Wrinkled skin means it's drying out.
Tips to clean it. Even though you don't eat the peel, it's always a good idea to wash it well. Otherwise, when you cut into it, the knife can carry harmful bacteria from the peel inside to the flesh.
How to cut it. You don't have to peel passion fruit. Just cut it in half and scoop out the seedy pulp.
Ways to store it. In cool months, you can keep passion fruit at room temperature. When it's hot outside, put it in the fridge. It’ll last 2 to 3 weeks there. You can also freeze the pulp.
How to eat it. Most people eat it raw, with a little cream and sugar or lime juice sprinkled on top. You can also:
- Blend it with milk.
- Add it to yogurt or salsa.
- Mix it in a smoothie.
- Strain out the seeds, boil down the juice, and use it to flavor ice cream, candy, cakes, pies, or cocktails.
- Top white meat and fish with passion fruit sauce.
- Make the seeded pulp into a jelly.