For centuries, only Chinese royalty had the privilege of enjoying the sweet taste of the apricot-resembling fruit known as the loquat. Brimming with antioxidants called hydroxycinnamic acids, studies have shown loquats may be protective against heart disease and some types of cancer. Along with apples and pears, loquats are members of the rose family, and within the US, they're largely grown in Florida, California and Hawaii. Look for loquats at Asian markets, specialty fruit stores and farmers’ markets.
See also Get Proactive: How to Eat for Cancer Prevention.
Learn more about Loquats
Market names: Japanese plum, biwa, nispero, pipa
Season: Mid-February to June
Prep it: Wash under running tap water or scrub gently with a clean vegetable brush.
Store it: Store ripe fruit in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. The skin of the fruit is delicate and bruises easily, so take care when handling.
Eat it: The ripe fruit is golden orange and eaten fresh like an apple or mixed with other fruits in fruit salad. Slightly underripe loquats are yellowish-orange and a bit more tart, making them an excellent choice for pie-making. Bruised and sunburned fruit can be used to make jams, jellies and chutneys.
Health benefits: Plant chemicals called carotenoids give this orange-fleshed fruit its color and provide an excellent source of vitamin A, essential for healthy eyes and a strong immune system. Loquats are also a good source of calcium, potassium and fiber.