Native to China, kumquat is a nutritious fruit with yellow skin when fully ripe. It never grows bigger than a grape, but just a small bite will leave a sweet citrus flavor in your mouth for long.
In China, where it is grown on a large scale, people refer to it as “golden orange,” which is a direct translation of kumquat. Initially, kumquat was only grown in China, but currently, its cultivation has been embraced in many countries, including the United States. Kumquat is different from its brothers in the citrus family in that its peels are very sweet and edible. Same to its juicy flesh, which has a tart flavor. This article discusses how eating kumquats can benefit your health.
Small But Highly Nutritious
In places where kumquats are grown, many people like eating them – and for a good reason. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and fiber. It is said that these small fruits provide more fiber than other fresh fruits in a single serving. Five whole kumquats (100 g) provide 71 calories, 16 g of carbs, 2 g of protein, 1 g of fat, 6.5 g of fiber, 6% of the daily recommended value (RDV) for vitamin A, 73% of the RDV for vitamin C, 6% of the RDV for calcium, and 7% of the RDV for manganese. Kumquats also contain a decent amount of vitamin E, several B vitamins, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium, and copper. Don’t throw away the seeds and peels of kumquats, as eating them will provide omega-3 fatty acids, but only in small amounts. Additionally, up to 80% of kumquats are water, making them a hydrating and filling food that you can add to your diet for weight loss.
Loaded With Antioxidants and Powerful Plant Compounds
Antioxidants are plant compounds that help your body reverse the effects of oxidative stress. Your body can go into the state of oxidative stress when free radicals – produced during metabolism or under stress – accumulate beyond the levels of antioxidants. This causes damages to your tissues and chronic diseases like inflammation, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Fortunately, kumquats have high contents of plant compounds, such as flavonoids, essential oils, and phytosterols. Evidence indicates that the peels of kumquat contain more flavonoids than their juicy flesh.
Flavonoids in this fruit are said to possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which help protect against heart disease and cancer. As for phytosterols, their structure resembles that of cholesterols, and for that reason, they can inhibit the absorption of cholesterols. As a result, your blood cholesterol levels will be lowered. The nice scent retained in your hands after handling kumquats is due to the rich content of essential oil. Limonene is one of these essential oils which can help protect your body with its antioxidant properties.
May Boost Your Immune Health Significantly
A healthy and strong immune system is important in protecting your body against opportunistic infections. Eating a well-balanced and nutrient-dense diet is one way of boosting your immune system, and so is kumquat. In ancient times, many countries in Asia used kumquat in traditional medicine to treat cough, cold, and other inflammatory conditions of the respiratory system. Modern science also agrees with that, indicating that kumquats contain powerful compounds that can improve your immune system. Kumquats are a great source of vitamin C which supports the immune system. Similarly, the fruit contains certain compounds that researchers say that can activate natural killer cells. These cells are believed to inhibit the growth of tumor cells and protect against infections. Beta-cryptoxanthin is a carotenoid compound that can activate natural killer cells. Studies show that they can reduce the risk of lung cancer by up to 24%.
May Manage Obesity
Eating junk foods and poor dieting is a predisposing factor to obesity. When eaten on a clean diet and regular exercise, kumquats can help combat obesity and diseases related to it. With related diseases, I mean heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Specifically, kumquats contain high amounts of a flavonoid called neocriocitin and poncirin. Research shows that these plant compounds, especially poncirin may help reduce weight by thwarting the growth of fat cell size. Additionally, kumquats can level of total cholesterol, “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, and fasting blood sugar levels. All these claims are based only on animal studies, and the number of kumquat extracts used was high than what can be obtained from the fresh fruit. Therefore, human studies need to be done to make a conclusion on whether kumquat can manage obesity and its related disorders.
How To Enjoy Fresh Kumquats
The best way to eat and enjoy kumquats healthily is by eating them whole, that is, with their peels. Remember that their sweet taste is all compressed in their peels while their juice is tart. But if you are sensitive or allergic to their peels, you may as well peel them out and head to the juicy flesh. Similarly, if you are not comfortable with the juice, you can simply squeeze the juice by cutting one end and having the juice from it. Alternatively, some people say that kumquats are best eaten by biting the whole fruit in your mouth. This allows you to mix both flavors, sweet and tart. Try to chew kumquats very well because they tend to be sweeter with prolonged chewing. The peels of kumquats can also be softened for a better texture before eating by dipping them into boiling water for 15-25 seconds and then rinsing with cold water. Although this is not necessary, chewing the fruit plus its softened peels will feel better. As for the seeds, you can eat them since they contain omega-3 fatty acids. The seeds are bitter, though, so its upon you to pick them out when cutting the fruit or spit them out while chewing the flesh.
Kumquats were originally grown in China, but due to their nutritive value, there are grown in California, Florida, and other parts of the world. They contain omega-3 fatty acids in their seed, flavonoids, and other plant compounds in their peels and flesh. You can try them out if you have never experienced their health benefits.