Yuzu (Citrus junos) is a hybrid citrus fruit also known as yuja. It originated in China more than 1,000 years ago and now grows in Japan, Korea, and other parts of the world.
The fruit is small, with a diameter of 2–3 inches (5.5–7.5 cm). It has a relatively thick yellow skin and is more aromatic and much sourer than other citrus fruits.
Particularly popular in East Asian cuisine, its juice, peel, and seeds serve as gourmet flavorings for vinegars, seasonings, sauces, and marmalades. Yuzu oil is also commonly used in cosmetics, perfume, and aromatherapy.
Curiously, this fruit may provide several benefits, including reducing inflammation and promoting heart health.
Here are 13 emerging benefits and uses of yuzu.
1. Highly Nutritious
Yuzu is low in calories but highly nutritious. In fact, 3.5 ounces (100 grams) provides (1):
• Calories: 53
• Carbs: 13.3 grams
• Protein: 0.8 grams
• Fat: 0.3 grams
• Fiber: 1.8 grams
• Vitamin C: 59% of the Daily Value (DV)
• Vitamin A: 31% of the DV
• Thiamine: 5% of the DV
• Vitamin B6: 5% of the DV
• Vitamin B5: 4% of the DV
• Copper: 5% of the DV
It also contains smaller amounts of magnesium, iron, zinc, calcium, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin E.
What’s more, it harbors powerful plant compounds like carotenoids, flavonoids, and limonoids.
These all act as antioxidants in the body, and studies show that they may help reduce inflammation, fight cancer cells, and promote heart health.
Yuzu is low in calories and particularly rich in vitamins A and C. It also provides numerous plant compounds.
2. Contains Powerful Antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize free radicals, which are reactive molecules that damage cells and cause oxidative stress when their numbers get too high in the body. This stress is associated with many diseases. Diets rich in antioxidants are thought to reduce your risk of brain ailments, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
Yuzu contains several antioxidants, including vitamin C, carotenoids, and flavonoids.
Vitamin C is not only an antioxidant but also helps regenerate other antioxidants in your body, such as vitamin E. In addition, a test-tube study noted that limonene, a flavor compound in the peel of yuzu and other citrus fruits, acts as an antioxidant and helps reduce inflammation. It may be particularly useful in treating some types of asthma.
Furthermore, animal and test-tube studies show that yuzu extract’s antioxidants may combat obesity and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Though these findings are promising, human studies are needed.
Yuzu contains powerful antioxidants like vitamin C and limonene, which help neutralize harmful free radicals and reduce inflammation in your body.
3. May Improve Blood Flow
Blood clotting ensures that you stop bleeding after a cut or scrape. However, excessive clotting can cause blockages in small and large blood vessels — which may lead to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Interestingly, test-tube and animal studies reveal that yuzu extract may have anti-clotting effects by inhibiting the grouping of platelets.
These properties are linked to two key flavonoids, hesperidin and naringin, in both the flesh and peel.
By improving blood flow, yuzu extract may reduce your risk of heart disease. However, significantly more research is needed before it can be recommended for this use.
Two flavonoids in yuzu may help reduce blood clotting. This may improve blood flow and reduce your risk of heart disease, though further research is needed.
4. May Have Anticancer Properties
Yuzu packs many substances that may protect against cancer.
Of particular interest are limonoids, which occur in several citrus fruits. Test-tube studies demonstrate that they fight breast, colon, and prostate cancers.
Additionally, yuzu peel contains tangeretin and the flavonoid nobiletin. In test-tube and animal studies, nobiletin suppresses tumor growth, while tangeretin is effective at inhibiting leukemia cell growth.
Despite these promising findings, human research is needed.
Yuzu is rich in compounds with potential anticancer benefits. Nonetheless, studies in people are necessary.
5. May Protect Your Brain
Animal and test-tube studies suggest that yuzu may protect your brain against diseases like Alzheimer’s.
In fact, a study in rats with induced brain dysfunction found that long-term intake of Yuzu extract improved brain function and blood sugar control.
Plus, the yuzu flavonoid naringenin has particular brain-protective effects.
In two studies in mice with induced memory loss, naringenin extracted from yuzu improved memory and reduced oxidative stress from brain-damaging proteins.
All the same, research is limited to animal studies.
Yuzu extract may reduce brain dysfunction and improve memory, potentially safeguarding against ailments like Alzheimer’s. However, further research is needed.
6. Its Fragrance Has Soothing Effects
Compounds like limonene and linalool are responsible for yuzu oil’s distinct aroma, which carries notes of grapefruit, mandarin, bergamot, and lime.
Interestingly, several studies note that yuzu oil has soothing effects, potentially helping reduce tension and anxiety.
In one study, 20 women inhaled yuzu scent for 10 minutes. They experienced a decrease in stress markers, mood disturbance, tension, depression, anger, and confusion for 30 minutes.
Another two studies in small groups of young women determined that 10-minute inhalation likewise decreased heart rate and improved nerve system activity.
Additionally, inhaling diffused yuzu essential oil decreased tension, anger, and fatigue better than inhaling hot steam and similar to lavender oil.
Finally, a study in 60 mothers who were at the hospital with their sick child found that an aromatherapy room diffused with yuzu oil significantly reduced anxiety levels in the mothers.
As such, yuzu’s scent may offer emotional relief akin to other pleasing aromas.
Inhaling yuzu’s aroma may reduce your heart rate and help relieve stress, anxiety, and other tensions.
7–12. Other Potential Benefits and Uses
Although research is limited, yuzu may offer several other benefits, including:
1. May provide antidiabetes effects. In a study in mice fed a high-fat diet, yuzu peel extract helped regulate blood sugar levels.
2. May help reduce cholesterol. A study in mice fed a high-cholesterol diet revealed that yuzu peel extract reduced body weight and LDL (bad) cholesterol.
3. Possible uses for heart failure. Animal studies indicate that yuzu extract may reduce some of the damage to heart muscle caused by a heart attack, which may help prevent future heart failure.
4. May improve bone health. An animal study found that giving rats yuzu peel extract helped maintain bone strength.
5. May protect against infection. Yuzu seed extract has been shown to have antimicrobial activity against a variety of infectious organisms, including influenza, E. coli, Salmonella, and S. aureus.
6. Utilized in anti-aging cosmetics. This citrus fruit is used in cosmetics for skin lightening and collagen synthesis, which may help prevent wrinkles.
Keep in mind that many of these purported benefits are related to concentrated extracts or specific compounds rather than the fruit itself.
Thus, it’s unlikely that you would consume enough yuzu to see these effects, as it’s primarily used as a flavoring agent — not eaten on its own.
Animal and test-tube studies suggest that yuzu extract may fight infections and support healthy blood sugar, as well as heart and bone health. It’s also used in cosmetics. Still, research is limited.
13. Easy to Add to Your Diet
Because of its sourness, yuzu isn’t normally eaten on its own. Nonetheless, you can enjoy it in a variety of ways.
Yuzu is traditionally used for making Asian vinegars and seasonings. In Japanese cuisine, it’s often added to pastes, powders, marmalades, jellies, sweets, and tea.
Because it has a similar acidity as lemons and limes, it makes a great replacement for either of these fruits in dressings, condiments, desserts, baked goods, and drinks.
It may be difficult to buy the fruit at your local supermarket, but its juice is available at specialty stores and online.
Look for 100% yuzu juice with no additives to get the most benefits. Many yuzu products pack significant amounts of sugar to counterbalance its sourness, so be sure to read the ingredient list.
Finally, you can enjoy its aroma via essential oil — or by zesting the rind and adding it to a small bowl of neutral oil, such as grapeseed.
Keep in mind that essential oils should never be ingested and must be diluted prior to use.
Yuzu can be used as a substitute for lemon or lime in many dishes, and it’s particularly suitable for sauces, marmalades, jellies, drinks, and sweets. Be sure to watch for added sugars in products made with this fruit.
The Bottom Line
Yuzu is an aromatic citrus fruit notable for its sour taste, health benefits, and pleasing scent.
Although human studies are limited, its extracts and compounds have been linked to numerous benefits — including brain health, blood flow, and anticancer effects.
Its flesh, juice, and zest can be enjoyed in many dishes, such as dressings, seasonings, teas, and drinks. It proves a great substitute for other citrus fruits.
Originally Published: www.ecowatch.com