Here's some dietary advice you can take to heart. A persimmon a day does more to reduce the risk of heart disease - the leading cause of death in the United States - than an apple.
A head-to-head comparison of the two fruits by an international group of researchers found persimmons contain significantly higher concentrations of dietary fiber, minerals and phenolic compounds - all instrumental in fighting atherosclerosis, a leading cause of heart disease, heart attacks and stroke. The study appears in the February 1 Web edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The monthly peer-reviewed journal is published by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.
This is the first comparative study of persimmons and apples that evaluates their anti-atherosclerosis capabilities, says lead researcher Shela Gorinstein, Ph.D., a research associate with the department of medicinal chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel.
The relatively high contents of fibers, phenolics, minerals and trace elements "make persimmon preferable for an anti-atherosclerotic diet," Gorinstein and her colleagues concluded. A previous study by the researchers showed that persimmons improved lipid metabolism in rats.
Many persimmons contained twice as much dietary fiber as apples. The peels of both fruits had higher fiber levels than the pulp or the whole fruit, according to the findings. Persimmons also contained more of the major phenolics (antioxidants) than apples.
Persimmons had significantly higher levels of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and manganese. Apples had higher overall concentrations of copper and zinc.
Eating one medium-sized persimmon (about 100 grams) a day is enough to help fight atherosclerosis, says Gorinstein. She is quick to add that other fruits also help guard against heart disease and urges people to include them in their diet as well.