Kumquats: Benefits, Nutritional Value and Ways to Eat Them

Kumquats are tangy, sour and slightly sweet citrus fruits and are the same size as grapes. They are bite-sized orange flavoured fruits rich in vitamin C and fibre. They also contain some amounts of other nutrients such as iron, B complex vitamins, manganese, copper and calcium. In addition, the edible seeds of kumquats contain healthy fats like omega-three fatty acids. They also have a high percentage of water. These make them a perfect and handy snack for instant energy and hydration. 

The name kumquat comes from a Chinese word that translates to ‘golden mandarin orange’. These tiny citrus fruits originated in China, and their cultivation takes place in some countries, including India and Japan. Kumquats are more stable in extreme environmental conditions as compared to oranges.

Kumquats have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Due to their high fibre content, they may also aid in bowel disorders and help in maintaining a healthy weight. The peel and seeds of kumquats are edible. However, you can remove it if necessary. People use Kumquats in various recipes such as salads, chutneys, marmalades, sandwiches, candies and many more.

Different Varieties of Kumquats

There are six unique varieties of kumquats. These varieties differ by colour, taste and shape.

Round Kumquat

You may also know round kumquats by the names Marumi or Morgani kumquats. This variety of kumquats has a round or oval shape, and they are golden-yellow coloured fruits. The peel of this kumquat variety is sweet, whereas the pulp is sour. People use it in the preparation of jellies, marmalades and jams.

Oval Kumquat

The oval Kumquat variety is also known as Nagami kumquat. As the name suggests, it is oval, and its peel has a very sweet taste. Although the pulp is sour, it produces a perfect blend of flavours when consumed with the peel. Finally, another variety emerged from an oval kumquat known as Centennial Variegated. You can distinguish this type by the yellow and green stripes on the fruit’s peel.

Meiwa Kumquat

This variety of kumquat also has an oval shape. However, it has more seeds in comparison to the other types.

Hong Kong Kumquat

The fruit of Hong Kong kumquat is as tiny as a pea. This type of kumquat is bitter, contains less pulpy part of the fruit and has more seeds. Golden Bean kumquat is another variety that originated from Hong Kong kumquat.

Jiangsu Kumquat

Another name for this variety of kumquat is Fukushu kumquat. This variety produces bright orange-coloured fruits which are bell-shaped or round. They are used to prepare marmalades and jellies.

Malaysian Kumquat

It is also known as ‘hedge lime’. These fruits contain more fruit pulp and thin peels than the other kumquat varieties.

Nutritional Value of Kumquats

Kumquats are notably rich in dietary fibre, and vitamin C. 100 grams of raw kumquats contain

  • Energy: 71kcals
  • Carbohydrate: 15.9g
  • Protein: 1.8g
  • Fat: 0.8g
  • Fibre: 6.5g

Vitamins and minerals

  • Vitamin A: 15mcg (2% of DV)
  • Riboflavin: 0.09mg (8% of DV)
  • Choline: 8.4mg (2% of DV)
  • Calcium: 62mg (6% of DV)
  • Iron: 0.87mg (7% of DV)
  • Magnesium: 20mg (6% of DV)
  • Manganese: 0.13mg (6% of DV)
  • Zinc: 0.17mg (2% of DV)

You can roughly consume four to five kumquats per day that weigh up to 100 grams. They help meet more than half of the daily requirements of vitamin C. In addition, it provides reasonable amounts of fibre and nutrients in fair amounts.

Other Nutritional Facts about Kumquats

Low Glycemic Index

Citrus fruits have a low glycemic index. People with diabetes can safely consume low glycemic index fruits as they do not rapidly raise blood glucose levels. Kumquats have a very low glycemic index and can serve as a safe and nutritious mid-morning snack packed with antioxidants.

High Fibre

Kumquats are complex carbohydrates as they contain reasonable amounts of fibre. Therefore, they take longer to pass through the gut as the digestive enzymes can not break them down in our body. Hence you will feel fuller for longer. They keep cravings at bay, thus, preventing weight gain.

Kumquats are rich in soluble fibre. Soluble fibre is known for its role in arresting diarrhoea. It absorbs the excess water from the intestines and forms a gel-like substance. Therefore, if you are suffering from continuous episodes of diarrhoea, have a handful of kumquats. In addition, studies suggest that fibre plays a role in reducing cholesterol in the body by carrying it out through faeces.

Low-Calorie Snack

Kumquats contain reasonable amounts of water content. It makes them a great low-calorie yet satiating snack option. They can be instantly refreshing and hydrating at the same time.

Healthy Fats

Due to its low-fat content, people with heart diseases such as high cholesterol levels should consume it. In addition, the edible seeds of these fruits contain trace amounts of omega-three fatty acids. Studies have shown that omega-three fatty acids may reduce bad cholesterol and improve good cholesterol in the body.

Acts as an Antioxidant

Kumquats are rich in antioxidant vitamins like vitamin A and C. Free radicals, when present in excess, can lead to cell damage. The antioxidants present in kumquats may reduce oxidative stress caused by free radicals in our bodies. So flush out the toxins from your body with a glass of kumquat juice!

Health Benefits of Kumquats

Anti-inflammatory Effect

When there is a presence of any harmful pathogen in the body, our immune system responds to destroy this pathogen. This response is known as inflammation. It primarily occurs in diseases like arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, heart problems and neurodegenerative conditions. If inflammation worsens, it may result in cell death and organ damage.

Kumquats are rich in flavonoids such as kaempferol, luteolin, hesperidin, quercetin, C-glycoside and many more. A few studies have identified C-glycoside to have anti-inflammatory properties. It does so by reducing the inflammatory response of the immune system and the production of harmful free radicals.

Antibacterial Effect

A research study found that the oil extracted from the peel of kumquats may possess antibacterial properties. As a result, it may prevent the growth of several harmful microbes such as bacteria and fungi that grow on food. Due to its antibacterial effect, it may be beneficial in increasing the shelf life of foodstuff by preventing microbial growth.

Improves Eye Health

Kumquats contain fair amounts of vitamin A in the form of beta carotene. It is one of the eleven carotenoids present in kumquats. Many research studies have found carotenoids like beta carotene, zeaxanthin and lutein to improve eye health.

Our eyes contain rhodopsin. It is a protein compound that enables us to see in low lit areas. However, inadequate rhodopsin production can cause night blindness. Vitamin A is an essential component for rhodopsin production. Kumquats contain fair amounts of vitamin A thus, playing a vital role in healthy eyesight.

Antioxidant Effect

Kumquats have a rich vitamin C profile. Vitamin C is well known for its antioxidant potential. In addition, they help in reducing oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Free radicals are waste products formed in the body due to day-to-day metabolic functions, exposure to environmental toxins, etc. Excessive amounts of free radicals in the body can cause damage to cells and organs. They may result in cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetes and many more.

Research suggests that vitamin C present in kumquats may reduce the risk of these disease conditions by minimising the formation of free radicals in the body.

May Regulate Mood Disorders

Some studies suggest that vitamin C rich foods may improve stress disorders, overall mood and regulate sleep. It works by having an antidepressant-like effect and helps improve mental health by reducing the risk of anxiety, depression, and stress. However, the exact mechanism by which it enhances sleep is still unclear.

Improves Bone Health

Our body needs calcium to form and maintain healthy teeth and bones. Therefore, inadequate consumption of calcium-rich foods during the critical growth stages of life can result in several conditions such as short stature, dental caries, osteoporosis, etc. Vitamin C also has a crucial role in bone formation. In addition, vitamin C helps in collagen formation. Thus, including adequate amounts of this vitamin can improve skin and bone health.

Kumquats contain fair amounts of calcium and vitamin C. Studies suggest that vitamin C may have a beneficial role in preventing bone diseases like osteoporosis. Acidic foods may increase the risk of bone diseases by drawing calcium from the bones. Since kumquats are alkaline fruits, they reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. 

Improves Immunity

The immune system consists of various cells such as macrophages, lymphocytes, natural killer cells, etc. They are crucial for protection from diseases caused by different types of bacteria and viruses. They work by attacking and destroying the pathogens that enter our bodies—this response results in inflammation. 

According to a study, beta-cryptoxanthin and L-limonene in kumquats may improve immunity. In addition, they work by enhancing the action of natural killer cells and reducing metabolic stress in the body.

Anticancer Effects

According to research, apigenin, a type of flavonoid present in kumquats, may prevent cancer development. Cancer causes the uncontrollable multiplication of cells and changes in DNA. Apigenin may act on the cancer cells by triggering cell death, preventing them from growing and spreading to other cells.

Prevents Weight Gain And Obesity

Another flavonoid present in kumquats, known as Poncirin, may have a significant role in preventing obesity. A study shows that Poncirin may reduce the risk of weight gain by preventing the formation of new fat cells in the body. 

Additionally, they are rich sources of fibre. Due to their slow movement through the digestive tract, they keep you feeling full for longer. They reduce appetite and the tendency to binge on unhealthy snacks. 

Enhances Gut Health

Kumquats contain reasonable amounts of dietary fibre. Fibre passes through the gastrointestinal tract without being digested by the enzymes produced in our stomach. Furthermore, they get fermented in the gut and act as food for the friendly bacteria in the intestines. Overall, they enhance gut health and immunity. In addition, the soluble fibre present in these fruits may help in reducing diarrhoea.

Prevents Heart Diseases

Heart disease occurs due to blockage of arteries due to high cholesterol levels in the body. It can result in stroke, high blood pressure and heart failure. However, studies have found that flavonoids, fibre, vitamin C and A in kumquats may reduce fat accumulation in the arteries. As a result, it ultimately reduces the overall risk of heart disease.

The fibre present in kumquats may help in reducing cholesterol levels by improving its excretion through stools.

Improves Blood Sugar Control

Maintaining appropriate blood glucose levels is crucial in people with diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes may result in several complications such as foot ulcers, retinopathy, etc. Therefore, it is preferable for people with diabetes to consume low glycemic index fruits to prevent sudden spikes in blood glucose levels after a meal.

Kumquats have low sugar content. Thus they also have a low glycemic index and are perfect for diabetic people. In addition, a study has shown that kumquats may reduce the chances of spikes in blood sugar levels after a meal due to their high fibre content.

Ways to Consume Kumquats

Quick Snack

Kumquats are a perfect blend of sweet and sour flavours. They are delicious even when consumed fresh. If you’re feeling lazy to prepare a healthy snack, munch on a bowl of juicy kumquats.

Enjoy the Sweet, Squeeze Out the Sour

Not a fan of the sour juicy part? Pop a hole in the peel and squeeze out the juice.

Boil Them

If the peel tastes undesirably hard, boil them for a few minutes to soften. Now dip them in cold water and enjoy.

Juice Them

You can also remove the seeds and juice them if you dislike taking them as whole fruits.

Jams And Marmalades

If you are a jam-lover, you can boil a cup of kumquats, add some sugar and lemon zest and store them for future use. Kumquats are great fruit options to make marmalades and jams due to their citrus flavour.

Add Them to Your Salads And Smoothies

You can consume them with your green salads for a tangy twist. You can also blend them into a green smoothie. Their intense flavour masks the taste of the greens. That makes them an excellent switch for oranges.

Quick Recipes using Kumquats

Kumquat Salad

Health Benefits of Kumquats and Ways to Eat Them- HealthifyMe

Serves: 1

Preparation time: 10minutes

Ingredients

  • Kumquats (thin slices, without seeds): 50g
  • Strawberries(chopped): 50g
  • Kale (shredded): 20g
  • Olive oil: 2 tbsp.
  • Brussel sprouts (shredded): 30g
  • Apple cider vinegar: 30ml
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. Wash kumquats, strawberries and kale.
  2. Steam them if needed.
  3. Chop them into thin slices.
  4. Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and olive oil and mix evenly.
  5. Add salt as needed and serve.

2. Kumquat Green Smoothie

Health Benefits of Kumquats and Ways to Eat Them- HealthifyMe

Serves: 1

Preparation time: 10minutes

Ingredients

  • Spinach leaves: 50g
  • Dates (dry): 3
  • Kumquats: 50g
  • Cashews: 5
  • Apple (chopped): 50g
  • Water: 50ml

Method

  1. Wash spinach, kumquats and apple and cut them into medium-sized slices.
  2. Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend them till they get a smoothie-like consistency.
  3. Pour water and blend them again.
  4. Add ice cubes if needed.

Possible Side Effects of Kumquats

Infection Due to Contamination

If you buy kumquats from street-side shops that are kept in the open for several hours, they may contain microbes on their surface. If you consume these fruits without proper cleaning or cooking, they may cause infections by pathogens like E coli and salmonella. These microbes may lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and fever. Therefore, it is essential to wash or cook your kumquats before consumption.

Citrus Allergy

The fruit, seeds and peel of kumquats are generally considered safe for consumption. However, people with citrus allergies may develop adverse symptoms if they consume kumquats. Research suggests that such people may develop contact dermatitis if they contact the peel of these fruits.

Symptoms may include:

  • Tingling sensation
  • Itching around the mouth area, lips and tongue
  • Redness of skin
  • Dry and flaky skin
  • Swelling 
  • Blisters
  • Burning sensation
  • Hives
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

In such cases, it is advisable to seek the help of a medical health professional immediately.

Summary

Kumquats are unique, tasty and nutritious fruits that come with a wide range of health benefits. They have comprehensive health benefits, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antimicrobial and immunomodulatory properties. In addition, they are a versatile ingredient in different types of dishes, be they sweet, sour or tangy. Although, it is essential to purchase them from hygienic sources as they may be exposed to many contaminants before reaching our bodies.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are the health benefits of kumquats?

A. Kumquats are naturally rich in many nutrients such as vitamins A, B and C. It also contains good dietary fibre, calcium, iron, flavonoids, carotenoids and other plant components. These nutrients make them good antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anticancer, immunomodulatory food.

2. How many kumquats should you eat per day?

A. About four to five kumquats are consumed per day. They roughly weigh 100 grams, meet half a percentage of the daily value, and provide 6.5 grams of fibre. It is a great low-calorie option for diabetes due to its low sugar content. However, it is essential to clean them properly to prevent infections due to environmental contaminants.

3. Are kumquats high in sugar?

A. No, kumquats contain low sugar content. They have a low glycemic index, and people with diabetes can safely consume them. Additionally, they also make a satiating healthy snack option. Due to their fibre content, they prevent weight gain by controlling hunger and cravings.

4. Do kumquats make you sleepy?

A. The role of citrus fruits in sleep is unclear. However, vitamin C rich foods may act as an antidepressant and relieve insomnia.

5. Is kumquat good for sore throat?

A. Yes, kumquats are immunomodulatory due to their high vitamin C concentration. Thus consuming kumquats may improve immunity and help prevent infectious colds and fevers.

6. Are Kumquat seeds poisonous?

A. No, kumquat seeds are entirely safe for consumption. They also contain some amounts of healthy fats. Although, they have a slightly bitter taste and may not be liked. They can be consumed or discarded as per one’s choice.

7. Are kumquats acidic?

A. No, kumquats are alkaline in nature. Thus, they help digestive issues like acidity, weight loss and reduce the risk of diseases such as osteoporosis.

8. Can you juice a kumquat?

A. Yes, you can blend kumquats into juice. You can also combine them with other fruits juices for a unique flavour.

9. Can you eat the skin of a kumquat?

A. Yes, the peel of kumquats is edible and contains a high amount of dietary fibre—this aids in weight loss, blood sugar control, better immunity and many more health benefits.

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