What is a Loquat? I have a tree in my backyard. I was introduced to the Loquat tree when I first moved to Florida. There was one between my house and the neighbor’s house. That was my first question: WHAT IS A LOQUAT?

When I point out my Loquat tree to folks, they always say, ” I have never heard of a loquat, what is a loquat?  A fruit of course!

Wikipedia, as well as other research sources, describe the loquat as being a species of flowering plant in the family Rosaceae. It produces fruit. It is native to China, but common in Japan, Korea, India, Pakistan, the Philippines and hill country in Sri Lanka,” not to mention many other temperate climate countries. It is a large evergreen tree grown commercially for its yellow fruit” which is also known as Japanese plum and Chinese plum.

Today, Japan is the leading producer of loquats followed by Israel and then Brazil. The wood of the tree is hard and durable. In Central America, they make furniture out of it. In the US, the loquat tree is hardy only in certain areas of the country to include Hawaii, California, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, flowering only where winter temperatures do not fall below 30 degrees F. In these areas, the tree flowers in autumn and the fruit ripens in late winter.

Loquats are unique among fruit trees. The flowers are 1 inch in diameter, white, with five petals which grow on a stiff panicle or small branch of three to ten flowers. They do have an aroma and can be smelled from a distance. The Loquat fruits grow in clusters, are oval, or pear-shaped with a smooth or downy, yellow/orange, or sometimes red-blushed skin. The tangy flesh is white, yellow or orange and sweet to sub acid or acid. The seed/seeds inside of the fruit may be different in number in each fruit – even grown on the same tree; usually one to four in number. They are of a good size for being in such a small fruit. The flavor of the Loquat fruit, which tastes different to everyone, is a mixture of peach, citrus and mild mango. It has a high sugar, acid, and pectin content. It mixes well with other fruits in fresh fruit salads. The fruits can also be used to make jam, jelly and chutney. I clean the fruit, take the seeds out, and freeze them in zip lock freezer bags. They are good as snacks.

In Italy, a liqueur is made from the seeds, but with much caution, as the seed contains (like the apricot seed), cyanogenic glycosides (cyanide poison). The leaves contain this same ingredient – even though in Japan they do dry the leaves and use them to make an herbal tea, call Biwa Cha. As for me, I definitely stay away from using the seeds or the leaves  for anything but putting them in the garbage. I am too cautious, I suppose.

The loquat fruit is said to have good nutritional and health benefits. It is low in saturated fat and sodium, high in vitamin A, dietary fiber, potassium and manganese, as well as Vitamin C, folate, the B vitamins, and minerals to include, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc.

I am all for good health benefits of any natural foods. Some of the benefits related to Loquats, as scientifically researched, are as follows:

  • Regulates blood pressure – according to research, the potassium in the fruit acts as a vasodilator of the cardiovascular system, helps lower the blood pressure and thereby can decrease the risk of heart attacks and stroke. It is also considered a ‘brain booster’ – increasing the flow of blood to the brain.
  • Stimulates the Circulatory System – due to the high iron level which is important to prevent anemia. Iron is essential for red blood cells, part of the hemoglobin, which brings oxygenated red blood cells to all the body’s organs and thereby boosts the circulation. This helps your body to speed up the healing process, increase energy, and keep all the organ systems functioning properly.
  • Lowers Cancer Risk – by the presence of the antioxidants in the fruit.
  • Treats Inflammation – with its own anti-inflammatory properties and analgesic qualities, preventing the body from cellular aging.
  • Can Prevent Diabetes – reducing the blood sugar, regulating insulin levels, and prevents hyperlipidemia in the blood.
  • Soothes the Respiratory System – by clearing phlegm and mucus from the respiratory tract.
  • Improves the Immune System with its high level of Vitamin C, which also encourages the generation of white blood cells is necessary for the production of collagen which supports the growth and repair or organs and tissues in the body after an illness or injury.
  • Improves Digestion – rich in dietary fiber it bulks up the stool and stimulates peristaltic motion which helps regulate the bowel movement. The dietary fiber is essential for constipation reduction, diarrhea, bloating, cramping and other stomach disorders.
  • Helps Control Weight – the fruit is low in calories and it suppresses the appetite. It also improves the metabolism which helps promote healthy weight loss.
  • Eye Vision – is improved because of the Vitamin A, a component important for eye health. This vitamin also helps to prevent the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. It, as well, is helpful for strengthening and developing bones and teeth.
  • Improves Skin Health – because of the antioxidants essential for preventing early aging, and skin inflammation. It as well, is being researched for use to fight the effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients.
  • Supports the Liver – by eliminating harmful toxins out of the body.
  • Fights Against Viruses – last, but not least, for there are many more benefits to be derived from the Loquat Fruit.

Now you know what a Loquat Fruit is, but, as with all foods, despite the wide range of benefits it is necessary to not over consume the Loquat fruits. The precaution is that the fruits can cause toxic myopathy including weakness and non-specific pain. Thereby you should consume the fruit and any derived products from the fruit in moderation.

Loquat Fruits are suitable to be added to your daily diet…when in season, or you can buy them or pick them. JUST DON’T OVER-DO!



Test Kitchen – Eggs

Did you know that the color of the egg doesn’t make a difference? The color of the egg indicates the color of the chicken that laid the egg….except for man colored Easter eggs.

I am a lucky person. I have a friend who owns a chicken farm. I am able to get fresh eggs when I need them…delivered to my door. No pesticides or injections to enhance the chickens or the eggs etc. I do vouch for the fact that fresh ‘right off the farm’ eggs taste so much better than store-bought eggs…which I no longer buy. Soooo, what do you and I need to know about eggs?  I will try to cover all aspects in reference to eggs, for you, my readers benefit.

I assume you all are aware that eggs purchased by the dozen in the grocery store are already weeks old before they hit the store’s shelf. Eggs do have a long shelf life as eggs freshly hatched will last for several weeks without refrigeration due to a special coating on the eggs outer shell. It is called bloom. Bloom acts as an oxygen inhibitor and it keeps the egg from breathing. The slower the egg breathes the longer the shelf life. This is interesting, because I didn’t know eggs breathe. Some companies take the ‘bloom’ off the egg before they package them – with a special washing method. I understand they remove the ‘bloom’ for sanitary reasons as it holds bacteria. The problem with taking it off is that it cuts down the shelf life of the egg.

My cousin’s family raised eggs for market. When I visited their farm in the summer, I remember doing what is called ‘candling’ the egg. To do this, we held the egg up to a special light and because the egg-shell is translucent, you could see inside of the egg. Eggs are candled to decide the condition of the air cell, yolk, and white. Candling detects bloody whites, blood spots, or meat spots, and enables observation of germ development, as well as embryo development. I bought a dozen eggs at the grocery store once, and when I broke open one of the eggs to make an omelet, it had a dead chicken inside. I threw up. I never ate eggs again for a long time. Apparently that dozen of eggs had not been ‘candled’.

Today, candling is still done, but by various methods: 1) eggs are placed on a conveyor belt and pass over mechanical sensors integrated with computerized systems for defective eggs. 2) advanced technology, utilizes computerized integrated cameras and sound wave technology for the segregation of eggs.

Eggs are pasteurized when used for freeze drying, imitation egg products, and egg substitutes. The pasteurization of shell eggs means they must be kept refrigerated to retain quality. This is not often done.

Eggs don’t have to be graded. A company wishing to have their eggs graded pay for this USDA service. If a carton of eggs has not been graded it will have “Grade A” on the carton without the USDA shield.

Once refrigeratedeggs should stay that way to avoid bacteria growth. Do not wash eggs – washing takes off the (bloom) protective coating. Keep eggs in the carton they came in to retain freshness. Do not transfer eggs into the new fangled egg holding devices you can buy at the store. Also, do not put eggs in the door of the refrigerator, because that is the warmest part of the refrigerator and the temperature fluctuates as you open and close the door.

How do you tell if the egg is fresh? Apply a simple test – all you need is water. When you are ready to use your eggs. Just fill a bowl with cold water and place your eggs in the bowl. If they sink to the bottom and lay flat on their sides, they’re very fresh. If they’re a few weeks old but still good to eat, they’ll stand on one end at the bottom of the bowl. If they float to the surface, they’re no longer fresh enough to eat and should be discarded. As the egg ages, the air sac in the end of the egg increases in size. This is what makes the egg float. Also, the air sac in the end of the egg – when it gets larger makes the egg easier to peel. That is why older eggs are better to hard boil…but need to be eaten within 2-3 days.

Organic eggs are produced through organic means.         
The chickens are fed organic feed. According to the USDA, organic means that the laying hens must have access to the outdoors (except on rainy days), cannot be raised in cages, and cannot be given any low-level antibiotics during infectious outbreaks.

Free Range chickens are caged, but when outdoors, the range area is fenced. They can roam freely outdoors for at least part of the day.

There is so much to learn about eggs. You can do your own research and come to your own conclusion about eggs.  Goose and duck eggs are also good. I found http://www.fsis.usda.gov to be a very helpful site, as is Wikipedia.

Did you know eggs are not considered to be dairy but are considered to be an animal by-product? I will talk about the cholesterol from eggs in another blog.
                             HAPPY EGG EATING – IF YOU ARE AN EGG EATER.



What Other Symptoms Does RA Cause?

Other than myself, I don’t know of many folks who do not have ‘arthritis’ in one form or another. Arthritis is an ambiguous term. There are over 100 different conditions that can be termed “arthritis.” Two of the most heard of are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis. One that is not familiar  Lupus erythematosus, and others. So what are we talking about? What are these conditions and what must you do to avoid them? I hope I can enlighten you.

Osteoarthritis – sometimes just termed as ‘arthritis’ is the most common type. It can affect any joint to include a weight-bearing hip or knee, or your neck or back. The cartilage deteriorates and smooth joint surfaces become rough, causing loss of joint flexibility, pain and stiffness and sometimes mild swelling, and even change in the structure.  It can come and go with continual use of these body parts.

According to my Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary – ‘arthritis’ may ” result from or be associated with a number of conditions to include: infection (gonococcal, tuberculous, pneumococcal; rheumatic fever; ulcerative colitis; trauma; neurogenic disturbances; degenerative joint disease (as osteoarthritis); metabolic disturbances as gout;  etc. or periarticular conditions as fibromyositis, myositis, or bursitis etc.  Other terms include: acute secondary; acute suppurative; allergic; atrophic; deformans (deformity of fingers etc.) – progresses; degenerative – chronic, usually progressive, characterized by destruction of joint cartilage and other degenerative changes; fungosa; gonorrheal; gout; hypertrophic; neurogenic; neurotrophic – associated with nervous system; osteo- a chronic disease involving weight-bearing joints; pneumococcal – appearing as a sequel to lobar pneumonia, affecting one or more joints and the middle ear; psoriatic – usually accompanies psoriasis; and rheumatoid, a systemic disease of unknown cause in joints and related structures – tends to be chronic – and crippling deformities are the end result.”

Rheumatoid arthritis – was noted, in the Today’s Health & Wellness magazine, as being “probably an immune system disorder, associated with inflammation in a joint’s lining. It often begins with pain and swelling in your wrists, hands, feet or ankles, on both sides of your body at the same time and can affect your entire body, including heart, blood vessels and lungs.”

Lupus erthematosus – a type of arthritis, can affect the membranes lining your joints. It is a chronic and usually fatal systemic disease characterized by pathological changes in the vascular system. A skin rash is usually present. Symptoms include fever, arthritis, and signs of renal and lung and heart involvement in varying degrees. (If you have this condition – research it for yourself)

Apparently ‘arthritis’ doesn’t care whether you are male, female, old, or young. I have heard of 6 year olds having ‘arthritis’ – even rheumatoid arthritis.  Many years ago, arthritis was hard to diagnose. However, today the methods for treating arthritis have drastically improved. It is advisable to seek treatment right away if you suspect you have arthritis. Seeking treatment early improves the outcome in the long run.

Most ‘arthritic’ conditions are  progressive and can become chronic. It often involves a breakdown of a joint’s cartilage and inflammation in the joint’s lining that can affect muscles, tendons and ligaments. “As these tissues become shortened, your joint may become deformed and difficult to move.” Avoiding movement – which many people do – can weaken the muscles. Scientists aren’t sure what causes arthritis. However, once you have it and know that is what you have, inactivity may be a factor in allowing the cartilage and other soft tissues supporting a joint to become weak. “Exercise that keeps the muscles around your joints strong and toned helps protect them.” (W. Hayes Wilson, M.D.) The things Dr. Wilson advises against are – “seemingly inconsequential motions, awkward movement, like twisting while lifting as these may start a cascading pain event.” Researchers report that smoking more than doubles your chances of getting rheumatoid arthritis and makes it more damaging to your joints. Genetics may also play a role. Continue reading “Arthritis”