The Chinese lunar New Year falls on February 3rd.Celebrate by eating kumquats, and gold and good fortune will be yours — or so believed the ancient Chinese for whom the kumquat tree was a sacred symbol of their New Year. But science suggests plenty of other reasons to pop these sweet, bite-sized fruit into your mouth. Ten tiny kumquats (about 2/3 cup) are loaded with vitamin C (140%), not unlike other citrus fruit. But where kumquats really stand out is in their 48% of daily fiber — dramatically more than other citrus varieties. Plus their 4 grams of protein is about what you’d get in a handful of most nuts. What accounts for these standouts may be the unique fact that kumquats are eaten skin, seeds and all.

Citrus peels are being studied for a variety of benefits — ranging from the ability to fight foodborne pathogens to their potential to help control cholesterol levels. Problem is, few eat the orange rinds and lemon peels. Kumquats, by contrast, are rarely eaten without the peel — making them the perfect purveyor of these powerful compounds. Could kumquats offer protection against skin cancer? University of Arizona researchers found that among 242 study volunteers (ages 30 to 80) being monitored for citrus consumption and incidence of skin cancer, those with the highest intake of citrus peel had a 30% lower risk of developing skin cancers over a 2.8-year period.

High citrus consumption has been linked to a 50% lower risk of developing cancers of the mouth, throat and stomach, in one analysis by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific Research Institute. Different citrus varieties are being studied for particular benefits — for example, one Italian animal study found that blood orange juice curbed weight gain on a high-fat diet.
All citrus supplies a good amount of pectin, which University of Buffalo researchers found helped dieters feel fuller. What citrus contains the most pectin? Tangerine!
Published February 1, 2011