Are There Health Benefits to Eating Yuzu Fruit?

Yuzu is the most popular acidic fruit grown commercially in Japan The origin of yuzu is highly debated — many believe it is a cross between a mandarin orange and a lesser-known citrus called papeda. A yuzu resembles a small, bumpy orange. Sometimes known as Japanese citron, its intense flavor has made it a popular addition to many recipes. 

In 1914 noted plant expert Frank N. Meyer found the yuzu in China, where he was studying new plant species for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Today it is most often seen in Japanese cuisine. Early Japanese settlers brought yuzu to California, which produced most of the U.S. crop. Today neither the plant nor the fruit can be brought into the United States because of concerns about plant diseases.

Nutrition Information

Like lemons, yuzu fruit is rarely eaten on its own. Instead, people use its juice and zest in drinks and dishes. One yuzu fruit contains:

  • Calories: 20
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 7 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Sugar: 1 gram

Yuzu is also rich in sodium, magnesium, manganese, and vitamin C.

Potential Health Benefits of Yuzu Fruit

The health benefits of citrus fruits are widely known, although you may not see yuzu mentioned because of its rarity. Yuzu fruit provides the standard benefits of citrus fruits, plus more: 

Reduced Risk of Gout

The vitamin C in yuzu fruit could prevent a painful attack of gout. A form of arthritis, gout results from a buildup of uric acid in the joints. Vitamin C increases your excretion of uric acid so that less builds up in the blood. You can get extra vitamin C by taking a supplement, but one serving of yuzu can give you most of your daily need. However, no studies have shown conclusively that vitamin C can prevent gout attacks.

Eye Health

The vitamin C present in yuzu fruit, along with other nutrients, may slow the progress of age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, a common cause of vision loss. You can get vitamin C from a supplement, but ophthalmologists recommend a diet rich in leafy greens and red and yellow vegetables and fruits, like yuzu.

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Disease Prevention

Yuzu fruit is rich in antioxidants, which can prevent cell damage that can lead to diseases such as c ancer and heart disease. A diet high in antioxidants has been linked to disease prevention.

Improved Blood Flow

Two compounds in yuzu fruit, hesperidin and naringin, can keep platelets (colorless blood cells that help clotting) from sticking to the lining of blood vessels. This antiplatelet activity can prevent blood clots and inflammation of blood vessels. 

Doctors sometimes prescribe aspirin and other drugs to thin the blood, but they aren't always effective and can have side effects. Some researchers are interested in finding plant-based alternatives to these drugs. If you take aspirin or other drugs for your heart, talk to your doctor before changing your treatment.    

Stress Relief

The fragrance of yuzu fruit could be an effective stress-reliever. In one study of college students, essential oil derived from yuzu improved the mood of female students. Researchers showed this effect by measuring a substance in saliva that rises during stressful events. 

Potential Risks of Yuzu Fruit

In normal amounts, yuzu fruit should not be harmful to your health. However, you should be aware of these potential health issues:

Citrus Allergy

Some people may be sensitive to citric fruits like yuzu. You could experience wheezing, watery eyes,tightness in the chest, or skin reactions such as rash. Several substances in citrus fruits could cause problems, but sensitivity to citric acid is rare. Call your doctor immediately if your symptoms are severe.

Tooth and Mouth Problems

The acid in citrus fruits can be hard on tooth enamel. To avoid damage, brush your teeth after consuming foods or drinks with citrus. People undergoing chemotherapy may find that citrus foods cause mouth sores and other issues. If you are receiving chemotherapy treatment, talk to your doctor and consider cutting back your consumption of citrus like yuzu fruit.

Heartburn

Citrus fruits are one of the top triggers for heartburn because of their acid levels. If you have chronic heartburn, try limiting citrusy foods and don't lie down immediately after eating. It may help to eat citrus like yuzu fruit with other foods.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 22, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

3 Biotech: "Antioxidant and antiplatelet activities of flavonoid-rich fractions of three citrus fruits from Korea."

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: "Citric Acid and Citrus Allergy."

American Academy of Ophthalmology: "Vitamins for AMD."

American Dental Association, Mouth Healthy: "Top 9 Foods That Damage Your Teeth."

American Dental Association, Mouth Healthy: "Cancer: Taking Care of Your Teeth During Treatment."

Annual Review of Nutrition: “Antioxidants in Human Health.”

Biomolecules & Therapeutics: "Inhibitory effects of yuzu and its components on human platelet aggregation."

Fitbit: "Nutritional Information, Diet Info and Calories in Yuzu."

International Society for Horticultural Science: “COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF ORGANELLE DNAS IN CITRUS TO CLARIFY THE ORIGIN OF YUZU (CITRUS JUNOS SEIB. EX TANAKA) AND ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER ACID CITRUS.”

Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine: "Effects of Olfactory Stimulation from the Fragrance of the Japanese Citrus Fruit Yuzu (Citrus junos Sieb. ex Tanaka) on Mood States and Salivary Chromogranin A as an Endocrinologic Stress Marker."

Medscape: "Is vitamin C effective in the treatment of gout?"

The American Journal of Digestive Disease: On the genesis of heartburn.”

The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: "Antioxidant supplements for prevention of mortality in healthy participants and patients with various diseases."

Wutsher, H., K.: “Rootstocks and Mineral Nutrition of Citrus.”

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