Kumquats are native to Southeast Asia, particularly China, Taiwan, and Japan. Today, kumquats are gathering steam as a popular fruit the world over, and in the US, production can be found in both Florida and California.
The kumquat is a member of the citrus family Rutaceae which includes grapefruit, oranges, lemons, and limes.
A Little History
In the mid-1800’s the kumquat was brought to Europe from China by the botanist Robert Fortune.
The fruit of the kumquat tree is small with an olive shape and size, and golden orange in color. Popular in sweets and marmalades, they’re also eaten straight from the tree.
The kumquat was introduced to the US in the late 19th century where it provided little but ornamental purpose until the influx of an Asian population developed an interest in this fruit for its consumption as a food.
The whole of this little package of sweetness can be consumed, like a grape, skin, flesh, seeds and all! Like the grape, the seeds can be discarded or eaten, and the entire kumquat is filled with nutritional benefit!
Kumquats are low in calories and rich in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and polyphenolic flavonoid antioxidants such as lutein, carotenes, and zeaxanthin. They’re especially rich in vitamin C and are a good source of vitamins A, B and E. Kumquats also contain the minerals potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, manganese, and copper.
This fruit has many things going for it and should be consumed whole, peel and all. Much of the nutrients are found in the skin of the kumquat, such as certain essential oils like limonene, pinene, caryophylleneare and a-bergamotene, which may not only inhibit the development of cancer cells but assist, as well, in the hindering of heartburn and the treatment of gallstones.
The high fiber content of this mini-orange is the equivalent of nearly 10 grams per 8 kumquats! Fiber is especially necessary in the healthy functioning of our digestive tract, as well as helping to limit the glucose levels in our blood systems, thus assisting in limiting the development of type II diabetes, and lowering cholesterol in the body.
The B vitamins have been found to help remove cholesterol from the system. The calcium is not only necessary for the formation and strengthening of healthy teeth and bones, but also required for muscle contraction and nerve transmission. Vitamin A helps strengthen vision and is critical for healthy skin and teeth.
Research demonstrates that vitamin A is essential for healthy vision, a strong immune system, and a normal reproductive system and bone growth. According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin A may also play an important role in diminishing the development of certain cancers.
Studies show that Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant which is essential for the health of our connective tissue and wound healing, as well as fighting aging by removing free radicals from the body. Vitamin C may even play a role in lowering the risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular disease by reducing oxidative stress.
According to the Linus Pauling Institute, vitamin C prevents heart disease by assisting in the removal of cholesterol from the body. Further, vitamin C fights bacterial and viral infections.
Dietary fiber is especially beneficial to the digestive system and may help in reducing the incidence of certain cancers, in particular, colorectal, esophageal, stomach, mouth and pharynx, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.