Diabetes Diet: The Benefits of Cooking With Kumquats

Most of us do not regularly keep the fruit that scientists call Fortunella margarita in our refrigerator.

That these small, yellow-orange ovals are less popular than other citrus fruits might partly be owed to their playful, slightly exotic common name of kumquat.

Fresh kumquats make a low calorie (11 to 13 each), sweet, tangy, and slightly bitter addition to our diet. They can easily perk up a leafy green salad, add citrus twang to a fruit salad, be enjoyed as a side dish, dessert topping, or a zippy stand alone snack. While savoring the kumquat's tart taste we also treat ourselves to vitamins A, C, and E, B vitamins, plus calcium, copper, potassium, and other minerals.

Kumquats and Diabetes

The nutrients, fiber, antioxidants, and essential oils in kumquats provide some specific health benefits for people with, or at risk for diabetes, including:

  • Helping to prevent neurodegenerative diseases, such as diabetes and arthritis.
  • Regulating our digestion, and helping to metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
  • Facilitating an optimal balance of insulin and glucose.
  • Protecting the body against infections by enhancing our immune system.
  • Assisting with collagen production, and wound healing.

Though not many researchers have focused on kumquats, one recent study using lab animals showed that kumquat extract helped control weight gain, reduced fasting blood glucose, total and LDL cholesterol, serum triglyceride, and liver lipid levels. Improvement in insulin tolerance was also noted.

Eating and Storing

If you are game to try kumquats, November through June is the best time to purchase them. Choose those that are small, firm, and have a soft sheen. Ideally, their stems will still be attached. Avoid pieces that are unripe, or green.

Kumquats last up to two weeks when refrigerated in a perforated bag, and keep for three to four days at room temperature. To prepare kumquats, wash the fruit, pat it dry, and pull off the stem; they can be eaten whole, chopped or sliced. Because the skin is sweet it is generally left on, but it can be peeled, if preferred. Many people remove the pips, but they - like the rest of the fruit - are edible.

Beside the well known Fortunella margarita variety, other types of kumquats are grown as well. They are popularly known as Marumi, Meiwa, and Hong Kong Wild.

Sweet and sour Cabbage with Kumquats

For those eager to cook with kumquats, here is a sassy side dish recipe that will complement beef, poultry, or fish entrees.

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons cooking oil
  • 6 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 5 to 6 kumquats, sliced or cut into thin wedges (1/3 cup)

Preparation:

  1. Combine orange juice, brown sugar, and vinegar in a small bowel, and set aside.
  2. In a very large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage and cook for 4 minutes, tossing occasionally. Add the green onion and cook for another minute. Stir in orange juice mixture and the kumquats; heat through.

Makes 6, 2/3 cup servings. One serving: 56 calories, 2 g total fat, 22 g sodium, 10 g carbs (3 g fiber), 1 g protein.

Sources: Food Facts / Mercola; Diabetic Living

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