A kumquat is a deliciously sweet citrus fruit native to the Chinese continent. It has been popularly used in folk medicine to fight the common cold, cough, and other respiratory ailments. It is rich in vitamin C and fiber and is popular as a healthy snack, especially for weight management. Kumquat fruits are loaded with antioxidants and flavonoids that help boost the immune system. In this article, we explore the nutritional value and health benefits of kumquats, as well as how to include them in your diet. Keep reading to find out more!
In This Article
What Is a Kumquat?
Kumquats are small, round, or oval orange-like fruits that belong to the Rutaceae family. Their peel is edible and has a sweet flavor, while the fruit has a sour or tart taste. This exotic fruit is commonly used to make marmalades, jellies, and other spreads. It can be eaten cooked or as a healthy fruit snack.
Find out how this fruit helps in improving your health in the next section.
Health Benefits of Kumquat
1. May Help Combat Obesity and Weight Management
Animal studies have reported that kumquat fruit extracts help fight obesity and related metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular stress. Consumption of these extracts resulted in lower levels of serum triglyceride, fasting blood glucose levels, and improved tolerance to both glucose tolerance and insulin in high-fat diet-induced obese mice (1).
This study also revealed that apart from the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of kumquat fruits, the flavonoids neoeriocitrin and poncirin were suspected to reduce hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, and hepatic lipid accumulation in high fat-induced obese mice (1).
The studies are still in the preliminary stages, but they reveal kumquat-based products as potential candidates for diet supplements for metabolic disorders.
2. May Help Support Healthy Immune Function
Traditionally, kumquats have been used in folk remedies to treat the common cold, cough, and other respiratory ailments in Asia for their immune-boosting properties (2). These fruits are rich in vitamin C, which plays a vital role in supporting the immune system (3). But, further studies need to be conducted to understand how kumquats improve the body’s immunity.
3. May Help Supress Hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation is caused by excess melanin. Enzymes such as tyrosinase help in the production of melanocytes in the skin. Scientists have discovered that kumquat peels have compounds that can inhibit tyrosinase. These tyrosinase inhibitors may help in suppressing unwanted hyperpigmentation in human skin (2).
A study published in the Journal of Food and Drug Analysis reported that the hot-water extracts of immature kumquat peel demonstrated to have an inhibitory effect on tyrosinase (2). This anti-tyrosinase activity has been credited to DGPP (3′,5′-di-C-β-glucopyranosylphloretin), a flavonoid found in kumquat (2). But, several follow-up studies and clinical trials are needed to further prove this claim.
4. May Have An Anti-Cancer Effect
Kumquat fruits may help reduce the risk of certain cancers. Kumquats contain carotenoids such as β-cryptoxanthin, which is known to trigger the production of natural killer cells. These natural killer cells fight infections by terminating foreign or tumor cells (4).
Animal studies have shown that the kumquat pericarp extracts enhanced natural killer cell activity in restraint stress mice (4). In vivo studies on in-human KHYG-1 cell lines also show similar results (4).
Another study highlights the role of kumquat extracts in the inhibition of human prostate (LNCaP) cell proliferation (5).
5. Rich In Antioxidants
It has been found that the flavonoids from unripe fruits are responsible for most of the antioxidant activities. Antioxidants help fight chronic diseases by scavenging excess free radicles generated due to oxidative stress.
Anecdotal evidence also suggests that kumquats have anti-aging properties and are believed to be beneficial for skin health.
What about the nutrients present in these fruits? Scroll down to learn more about the nutrition profile of kumquat fruits.
Kumquat Fruit – Nutrition facts
Kumquats are nutritious as they contain vitamins and minerals that are essential for the body. They are low in calories and high in fiber.
A 100-gram serving of kumquats contains (8):
- Calories: 71
- Carbs: 16 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Fiber: 6.5 grams
- Vitamin A: 290 IU
- Vitamin C: 43.9 mg
- Choline : 8.4 mg
- Folate: 17 µg
Kumquat is a refreshing fruit that is super-hydrating due to its rich water content. It is a good source of several minerals like calcium and manganese. Apart from fiber, it also has healthy fats (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) that make it a nutritious snack!
So, wondering how to include this amazing fruit into your diet? Find out in the next section.
How To Eat – Kumquat Recipes
- The best way to enjoy this fruit is to pop it in whole with the peel intact! The peel gives it a sweet and zesty flavor, while the flesh is juice and tart. The seeds are edible but bitter to taste. Do not forget to thoroughly rinse them before eating them.
- You can prepare assorted condiments such as chutneys, sauces, jams, marinades, jellies, and marmalades with kumquats.
- Add them as toppings in salads, sandwiches, and desserts!
- You can bake them into cakes and pies.
- It is a popular candied fruit.
- Kumquat tea is another way to enjoy this exotic fruit.
Here are a few recipes you can try out with kumquats!
1. Candied Kumquats
These candied kumquats are the perfect bite-size snacks that are easy to make and super-versatile. You can pop them into your mouth to satisfy your sweet cravings or add them to your salads and desserts.
You Will Need
- 4 cups of roughly chopped kumquats
- 1 cup of water
- 2 cups of sugar
- Chop the kumquats and remove the seeds as they are bitter in taste.
- Bring the water and sugar to a boil.
- Add the chopped kumquats to the pot and let this mixture simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the kumquats and save them for later.
- Let the remaining syrup simmer for 5 more minutes till it gets a syrup consistency.
- Combine the kumquats and the syrup together.
- Let them set and harden.
- You can store them in a jar and refrigerate them. They can be stored for up to two weeks.
2. Kumquat Salsa
Salsa is the perfect accompaniment for brunches and home luncheons. Take it up a notch by adding kumquat to your salsa!
You Will Need
- 2 cups chopped, cleaned, and thinly sliced kumquats
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Dash of cayenne pepper
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Combine all the ingredients in a big bowl.
- You can increase or decrease the amount of red pepper and cayenne to adjust the heat.
- Let sit for 1 hour for the flavors to blend more fully.
- Serve this delicious salsa with seafood platters, steak, and more!
3. Kumquat Marmalade
There is no better breakfast than warm with marmalade. It is just the sweet and tangy treat you need to kickstart your day!
You Will Need
- 13/4 pounds kumquats
- 1 package (13/4 ounces) powdered fruit pectin
- 6 1/2 cups sugar
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- A pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 star anise
- 1 cup water
- Slice the kumquats into small quarters. Remove the seeds.
- Add the kumquats, lemon zest, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, star anise, and sugar into a pot of water.
- Let this mixture simmer at medium heat for 3 hours. Make sure to keep stirring it regularly so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
- When it reaches the desired consistency, remove it from the stove and let it cool for 15 minutes.
- Store the marmalade in clean jars and refrigerate.
Buying fruits can be a pretty confusing task. Do you always end up buying over-ripe or under-ripe fruits? Check out our tips for selecting and storing kumquats below!
Selection And Storage Of Kumquats
- The main characteristics related to the quality of kumquats are:
- Color: Choose fruits that are orange in color, not green. Avoid fruits that are spotted or discolored.
- Plumpness: Squeeze them gently. Look for kumquats that are plump and firm as they are juicy. Pass on squishy fruits as they might be over-ripe.
- Kumquats are available in supermarkets, farmers’ markets, and Asian grocery stores. The two popular varieties of kumquat are Nagami (which has an oval shape) and Meiwa (which is round and sweet).
- You can store them fresh for about two weeks in the refrigerator.
- You can also blend them into a puree and freeze them.
Are these fruits safe? Do they have any side effects? Keep reading.
Risks Of Eating Kumquat
Kumquats are generally safe to consume unless you are allergic to them. The most common symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
Consult a doctor immediately if you notice any of these symptoms after eating kumquats.
Other probable side effects of overconsuming kumquats are diarrhea, cramps, and bloating. This is attributed to the high fiber content of these exquisite fruits! A simple workaround this issue is to eat them in moderation (around five) and drink loads of water.
Kumquats are nutrient-rich and healthy. These fruits are refreshing go-to snacks to munch on, especially if you are health-conscious!
They are loaded with essential vitamins and antioxidants that help in protecting you from chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, obesity, and cardiovascular disorders. Although further research is needed to prove their benefits, including kumquats in your diet can help you improve your health. They can be enjoyed fresh or as jams, jellies, salad toppings, and desserts.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
How many kumquats should you eat per day?
You can have 4-5 fresh kumquats every day to enjoy their health benefits. There have not been any specific side effects linked to these fruits unless you are allergic to them or other citrus fruits.
Are kumquats high in sugar?
No, 100 gm of kumquats contain around 16 gm of carbohydrates. So, they are considered a healthy choice for individuals who are prediabetic or diabetic. They also help in weight management.
Do you eat the skin of a kumquat?
Yes, the skin of kumquats is edible. So, there is no need to peel the fruits before eating them. Their skin has a slightly sweet and tangy flavor.
Are kumquat seeds poisonous?
No, kumquats seeds are not poisonous. In fact, many people consume them with the fruit. For certain recipes, the seeds are removed as they have a bitter taste.
Are kumquats good for the kidneys?
Kumquats are anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants. The fruit is 80% water, which may help in kidney function. However, there are no specific studies to prove this claim.
Are kumquats good for sore throat?
Traditionally, kumquats have been used to treat cold, cough, and other respiratory problems. The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties of these fruits can boost immune function and fight the infections that cause sore throat.
Does kumquat tea have caffeine?
There is no caffeine in kumquat tea! Enjoy this healthy, refreshing, and unique tea to bust stress and boost immunity.
When can you eat kumquats?
You can eat kumquats any time of the day.
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- Effect of kumquat (Fortunella crassifolia) pericarp on natural killer cell activity in vitro and in vivo
- Radical scavenging capacities and inhibition of human prostate (LNCaP) cell proliferation by Fortunella margarita
- Traditional Small-Size Citrus from Taiwan: Essential Oils
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