The loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is a tree native to China that’s prized for its sweet, citrus-like fruit.
Loquats are small, round fruits that grow in clusters. Their color varies from yellow to red-orange, depending on the variety.
Loquat fruit, seeds, and leaves are packed with powerful plant compounds and have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years.
Recent research suggests that loquats may offer a variety of health benefits, including protection against some diseases.
Here are 7 surprising health benefits of loquats.
- High in nutrients
Loquats are low-calorie fruits that provide numerous vitamins and minerals, making them very nutritious.
One cup (149 grams) of cubed loquats contains (1):
Carbs: 18 grams
Protein: 1 gram
Fiber: 3 grams
Provitamin A: 46% of the Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin B6: 7% of the DV
Folate (vitamin B9): 5% of the DV
Magnesium: 5% of the DV
Potassium: 11% of the DV
Manganese: 11% of the DV
These fruits are particularly high in carotenoid antioxidants, which prevent cellular damage and may protect against disease. Carotenoids are also precursors to vitamin A, which is essential for healthy vision, immune function, and cellular growth (2Trusted Source).
In addition, loquats boast folate and vitamin B6, which are important for energy production and blood cell formation (3, 4).
What’s more, they provide magnesium and potassium, which are essential for nerve and muscle function, as well as manganese, which supports bone health and metabolism (5, 6, 7).
Additionally, loquats contain small amounts of vitamin C, thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), copper, iron, calcium, and phosphorus.
Loquats are low-calorie fruits that provide an array of nutrients, including provitamin A, several B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and manganese.
- Packed with plant compounds
Loquats’ plant compounds benefit your health in several ways.
For example, they’re an excellent source of carotenoid antioxidants, including beta carotene — though darker, red or orange varieties tend to offer more carotenoids than paler ones (8Trusted Source).
Carotenoids have been shown to enhance your immune system, reduce inflammation, and protect against heart and eye diseases (9Trusted Source).
In particular, diets rich in beta carotene have been linked to a lower risk of certain cancers, including colorectal and lung cancer (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
A review of 7 studies also associated high beta carotene intake with a significantly lower risk of death from all causes, compared with low beta carotene intake (12Trusted Source).
What’s more, loquats are rich in phenolic compounds, which possess antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties and may help safeguard against several conditions, including diabetes and heart disease (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
Loquats are an excellent source of carotenoids and phenolic compounds, which offer plenty of health benefits.
- May promote heart health
Loquats may bolster heart health due to their concentration of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
In particular, their potassium and magnesium are essential for blood pressure regulation and the proper functioning of your arteries (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).
Their carotenoids and phenolic compounds may likewise protect against heart disease by reducing inflammation and preventing cellular damage (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
Carotenoids have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that help prevent plaque buildup in your arteries, which is the leading cause of heart disease and heart-disease-related death (21Trusted Source).
In fact, studies reveal that people who eat more carotenoid-rich foods have a significantly reduced risk of heart disease, compared with those who eat fewer of these foods (22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).
Loquats are rich in potassium, magnesium, carotenoids, and phenolic compounds, all of which may boost heart health and protect against heart disease.
- May have anticancer properties
Some research suggests that extracts of the skin, leaves, and seeds of loquat have anticancer effects (24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source).
For instance, one test-tube study showed that extract from loquat fruit skins significantly inhibited the growth and spread of human bladder cancer cells (26).
Additionally, substances in loquats’ skin and flesh, including carotenoids and phenolic compounds, are known to possess anticancer properties.
Beta carotene has exhibited cancer-fighting effects in both test-tube and animal studies, while chlorogenic acid — a phenolic compound — has been shown to suppress tumor growth in multiple test-tube studies (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).
Furthermore, human research indicates that a diet rich in fruit offers significant protection against cancer (31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).
Nonetheless, more studies on loquats are needed.
Though loquats may have anticancer properties, more research is necessary.
- May improve metabolic health
Loquats may improve metabolic health by reducing levels of triglycerides, blood sugar, and insulin — a hormone that helps move blood sugar into your cells to be used for energy.
Various parts of the loquat tree, including its leaves and seeds, have long been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat metabolic issues like high blood sugar (35Trusted Source).
In a 4-week study, mice fed loquat on a high-fat diet had lower blood sugar, triglyceride, and insulin levels than mice only on a high-fat diet (36Trusted Source).
Other rodent studies suggest that loquat leaf and seed extracts may lower blood sugar as well (37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source, 39Trusted Source).
However, human studies are necessary.
Loquat fruit, leaves, and seeds may benefit several aspects of metabolic health, but human studies are lacking.
- May offer anti-inflammatory properties
Chronic inflammation is linked to many health conditions, including heart disease, brain ailments, and diabetes (40Trusted Source, 41Trusted Source).
Some research suggests that loquats have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
In a test-tube study, loquat juice significantly increased levels of an anti-inflammatory protein called interleukin-10 (IL-10) while significantly decreasing levels of two inflammatory proteins — interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) (42).
Additionally, a rodent study found that supplementing with loquat fruit extract reduced overall inflammation caused by a high-sugar diet and significantly lowered levels of endotoxins, a type of inflammatory substance, in the liver (43Trusted Source).
These potent anti-inflammatory effects are likely due to loquats’ wide array of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. All the same, human research is needed.
Test-tube and animal research suggests that loquats may have powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
- Versatile and scrumptious
Loquats grow in semitropical environments. In these regions, they may be purchased from local farmers or even grown in backyards.
If you live in a colder climate, they’re harder to find but may be available at specialty grocery stores depending on the time of year.
Loquats taste sweet, yet slightly tart, with notes of citrus. Be sure to choose fully ripe loquats, as immature fruit is sour. Ripe ones turn a bright yellow-orange and are soft to the touch.
As loquats rot quickly, you should eat them within a few days of purchase.
You can add them to your diet in a variety of ways, including:
raw, paired with cheese or nuts as a snack
tossed into a fruit salad
stewed with maple syrup and cinnamon as a sweet topping for oatmeal
baked into pies and cakes
made into jam or jelly
added to a smoothie alongside spinach, Greek yogurt, avocado, coconut milk, and frozen banana
combined with peppers, tomatoes, and fresh herbs for a delectable salsa
cooked and served with meat or poultry as a sweet side
juiced for cocktails and mocktails
If you aren’t planning on enjoying loquats immediately, you can refrigerate them for up to 2 weeks. You can also dehydrate, can, or freeze them to extend their shelf life (44).
Loquats’ sweet, slightly tart taste pairs well with many dishes. These fruits are delicate and don’t keep for long, so you may want to preserve them through freezing, canning, or dehydrating. You can also make them into jams and jellies.
The bottom line
Loquats are delicious fruits that offer a variety of health benefits.
They’re low in calories but boast plenty of vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory plant compounds.
Plus, some research suggests that they may safeguard against certain conditions, such as heart disease and cancer, as well as reduce blood sugar, triglyceride, and insulin levels.
If you’re curious, try to find loquats at your local specialty store. You can also buy loquat tea, syrup, candy, and seedlings online.