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Last updated: September 27, 2021
A tiny version of an orange with a super exotic name, that’s perhaps the best and quickest way to describe a kumquat.
Kumquats really are an interesting citrus fruit, and not just because of their looks and name. The small kumquat also packs a punch when it comes to nutrition and potential health benefits.
I had the pleasure of eating a few kumquats after spotting them in my local grocery store, and I have since been somewhat intrigued by this exotic fruit.
In this article, I am going to walk you through the origins of the kumquat fruit, its nutritional profile, how best to eat it, and so much more.
What Is a Kumquat?
Also known as cumquat or Fortunella margarita, the small kumquat is a citrus fruit, very similar to the orange, but much smaller in size.
The fruit comes from a group of fruit-bearing trees that go by the Latin name of Citrus japonica which are part of the Rutaceae family of flowering plants.
It’s usually hard to tell from pictures, but a kumquat really is a small fruit, about the size of a large grape, or an olive. When ripe, kumquats typically have a bright orange color, and green when they are unripe.
The name kumquat is derived from the Cantonese language, and means “golden orange”, or “golden tangerine”. The fruit is native to China, and has also long been cultivated in other parts of South Asia and Asia-Pacific, such as Japan, the Philippines and India.
The fruit has always played a role in traditional Chines medicine, and has often been used to treat minor inflammatory ailments, such as colds and coughs.
Because kumquats can be cultivated in colder, non-tropical climates, they have also been introduced to, and grown in, Europa and North America.
How to Eat a Kumquat?
Kumquats can, and should be, eaten raw. The surprising thing though is that, unlike oranges, kumquats don’t actually need to be peeled.
The peel is indeed perfectly edible, and actually tastes sweet. This works really well with the flesh which, like most citrus fruits, has a sour taste. The seeds can also be eaten, but they do taste quite bitter.
The fact that you can eat a kumquat whole, without peeling, makes it an excellent healthy snack. Sweet, sour and bitter flavors all mixed in one small citrus fruit!
Also, and this may not be very obvious, the sweet and sour taste makes kumquats a really good ingredient in a variety of recipes, such as cocktail drinks, salads and meat dishes.
Where to Find Kumquats?
Because kumquats are also grown in regions outside Asia, kumquats are relatively easy to find. At least, easier than most other exotic fruits.
You may not see them in large grocery stores chains, but if you try the smaller Asian grocery stores, gourmet food markets or farmers markets, chances are you will find them.
Nutritional Profile of Kumquats
Let’s go for a deep dive into the nutritional profile of the mighty kumquat fruit. This is always my favorite part, because I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to stats, facts and data!
As you can see in the below table (data derived from the USDA website), kumquats are in fact very nutritious. Some of the vitamins and minerals that really stand out are vitamin C (no surprise, as kumquat is a citrus fruit), calcium, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins.
Also worth noting is the carbohydrates content. The dietary fiber part of this is really high, with 6.5 grams per 100 grams. The sugar part is also relatively high, with 9.36 grams, but that can be expected from most fruits, and isn’t something to worry about when consumed in moderation.
I don’t know about you but in my humble opinion this is a pretty impressive nutrition profile for such a small fruit. Keep in mind though that the below stats are for 100 grams worth of raw kumquats.
|Kumquat Nutritional Profile (raw, 100 g)|
|>> Dietary fiber||6.5 g|
|>> Sugars||9.36 g|
|Calcium||62 mg (6% DV)|
|Iron||0.86 mg (7% DV)|
|Magnesium||20 mg (6% DV)|
|Manganese||0.135 mg (6% DV)|
|Phosphorus||19 mg (3% DV)|
|Potassium||186 mg (4% DV)|
|Sodium||10 mg (1% DV)|
|Zinc||0.17 mg (2% DV)|
|Vitamin A (RAE)||15 µg (2% DV)|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)||0.037 mg (3% DV)|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.09 mg (8% DV)|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.429 mg (3% DV)|
|Vitamin B6||0.036 mg (3% DV)|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||17 µg (4%)|
|Vitamin C||43.9 mg (53%)|
|Vitamin E||0.15 mg (1%)|
|Sources: USDA, Wikipedia|
Please note that, like most fruits, kumquats are very healthy and have a great nutritional profile, but they are certainly not a super food. All of the vitamins and minerals in kumquats can also be found in other, more common, fruits and vegetables.
In other words, there is no need to start eating kumquats today in order to make substantial improvements to your health. Maintaining a nutritious and balanced diet is always the best way to improve your overall well-being.
With that in mind, let’s have a look at some of the potential health benefits we can expect from regularly eating kumquats.
1. Great Source of Vitamin C
Like all citrus fruits, kumquats are a great source of vitamin C, an essential nutrient that supports a number of important functions in the human body.
Also known as L-ascorbic acid, vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and helps to strengthen our immune system.
Vitamin C also plays an important role in the synthesis of collagen, an essential component of connective tissue, which plays a vital role in wound healing.
2. High in Antioxidants
Kumquats contain flavonoids, which are compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
It’s interesting to know that the peel contains most of the flavonoids, which is another good reason to eat kumquats as whole fruits. The peel also contains essential oils which can have antioxidant and antimicrobial effects.
3. Good Source of Dietary Fiber
Kumquats, especially the peel, are a very good source of dietary fiber. With 6.5 grams of fiber per 100 grams, the small kumquat does stand out when it comes to fiber content, compared to many other fruits.
Fiber is important in various ways, but its main benefit is that it supports gastrointestinal health. Dietary fiber works as a natural laxative, so that our bodies are better able to properly process the food we consume. It helps to prevent constipation and also promotes healthy gut bacteria.
Hopefully this guide has triggered your enthusiasm about kumquats and that you’re going to try them out yourself. Despite the small size, the kumquat really is a delicious and unique citrus fruit.
I personally love trying out new fruits and veggies, so whenever I go to the grocery store I always keep an eye out for something new to bring home.
And if I really like them, I study and write about them too. Have you ever tried snake fruit, for example? Or rambutan fruit, perhaps? But my personal favorite is still, and always will be, dragon fruit.