The fruit of the passionflower has long been utilized as an herbal remedy to promote relaxation and lower high blood pressure. Clinical studies in recent years validate what common folk knew all along – passion fruit is a powerful ally in battling high blood pressure and reducing the risk of stroke.
Passion fruit is the edible fruit of the passionflower that grows on vines in warm climates. The fruit is found in both yellow and purple varieties. The yellow version is round and glossy and its smaller purple cousin oval shaped and dimpled. Both varieties contain a jelly-like pulp with edible seeds.
From the Latin “Passiflora Edulis”, passion fruit is known colloquially as “parcha amarilla” in Central and South America and “lilikoi” in Hawaii. Rich in nutrients, anti-oxidants and dietary fiber, it is an excellent source of potassium. Potassium coupled with a low sodium diet is known to regulate blood flow and lower blood pressure. A single passion fruit contains up to 821 mg of potassium and a cup of juice weighs in at 687 mg (nearly one-fifth of the recommended daily allowance for adults). Compared to the widely- touted banana which provides a mere 422 mg of potassium, passion fruit is a clear winner.
This rather ugly fruit is sure to please the palate once it is opened to reveal its sweet interior. The pulpy juice is frequently used in preparing jams, sauces, ice cream, candy cake fillings and exotic cocktails. Without added sugar, it provides a healthy low calorie snack to satisfy hunger and assist in weight control.
The “passion” in passionflower originally referred to the shape of the flower that resembles the crucifix in the passion of Christ. Over time, the legend has evolved and the passionflower is more likely to be associated with romantic love than with suffering. It is said that those who partake of the sweet fruit of the passionflower will fall in love with the person sitting nearest. If you believe the legend, you simply need to share the fruit with the object of your desire, grab a nearby chair and await the inevitable results.
In cold weather climates, passion fruit is hard to find and expensive to import. If your grocer does not carry the fruit or juice, you should be able to find passionflower extract at a health food store or online. Bear in mind that the concentrated extract acts as a mild sedative and is best taken before going to sleep. As with any supplement, natural or otherwise, be sure to check with your physician first.
The current obesity epidemic in America is spreading rapidly and contributing to elevated blood pressure readings even among children. Doctors often encourage diet and exercise modifications before resorting to prescription medications and the accompanying side effects. Passion fruit is a natural and savory alternative in the battle to lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease and strokes. Even if the attractive guy or girl at your table does not fall in love with you, your own heart will feel the love and thank you for it.