The passion fruit (Passiflora edulis), also known as chanh dây, chanh leo, lc tiên or mát mát in Vietnamese, is native to Paraguay, Brazil and northern Argentina. The vine is widely grown in the Central Highlands provinces of Lam Dong, Daklak, Gialai and Kontum for its fruit, which is often used as a tasty and refreshing drink. The fruit vine is now also found in Can Tho, Hau Giang, An Giang and Kien Giang in the Mekong Delta.
Its name was given by missionaries because the parts of the flower seemed reminiscent of the torture (the Passion) of Jesus Christ prior to his Crucifixion. Fresh passion fruit is rich in beta-carotene, potassium and dietary fiber. It also contains ascorbic acid (vitamin C), aspartic acid and citric acid (see more in the box below).
Passion fruit juice is a good, natural refreshing drink that can help quench the thirst quickly and supply many nutrients for the body. It can therefore help improve human health, facilitate digestion and prevent certain illnesses.
As the fruit has abundant vitamin C, which is a strong antioxidant that can help fight inflammation and infections, it is highly recommended for those with high blood pressure. Its vitamin C can also relieve asthma and inhibit the development of cancerous cells.
The dietary fiber in passion fruit may cause a full feeling and is thus good for those who are on a diet to lose extra weights. The dietary fiber can help retain the HDL cholesterol, which is considered good for health, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
The fruit’s high contents of carbohydrates, iron and potassium are good energy sources for the body. It is also advised to drink a glass of passion fruit juice before going to bed for a sound sleep.
The leaves of passion fruit contain the alkaloids that have blood pressure lowering, sedative and antispasmodic action. The flower of passion fruit has a mild sedative and can thus help induce sleep.
In traditional Vietnamese medicine, chanh dây flesh is considered to be sweet, cool and good for physical health and mental mood. The fruit is often used to quench the thirst and relieve fever. Passion flowers, leaves, fruits and rind are all used to treat several illnesses.