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Yuzu Fruit: Does it Spike Your Glucose?

Monica McCafferty, MS, CNS

Published in Nutrition

7 min read

June 27, 2023
a yuzu fruit from a tree
a yuzu fruit from a tree

In the world of exotic fruits, yuzu has been making waves for its unique flavor and suggested health benefits. Yuzu fruit is a type of citrus fruit native to East Asia, particularly Japan, Korea, and China.

Yuzu is rich in vitamins and antioxidants, and is often hailed for its vibrant taste and aromatic zest. But when it comes to blood sugar levels, those monitoring their glucose intake may wonder if consuming yuzu can cause a spike in their blood sugar.

Let's dive in and explore the relationship between this delicious fruit and your glucose levels. Read on for everything you need to know about yuzu.

What Is Yuzu Fruit and How is It Used?

a yuzu fruit with a branch and leaves

Yuzu is a small, round fruit that resembles a small grapefruit or mandarin orange, with a bumpy, yellowish-orange rind. The rind is relatively thick and contains essential oils, which give it a highly aromatic quality.

It is intensely tart and tangy, with a sourness that is often likened to a combination of lemon, orange, and grapefruit. Fresh yuzu has a refreshing and zesty taste, which adds a vibrant and citrusy kick to dishes, condiments, and beverages.

Yuzu fruit has a rich history and holds significant cultural importance, primarily in Japan. It has been cultivated and used in Japanese cuisine for centuries. Though it’s known as a Japanese citrus fruit, yuzu has also gained recognition outside of Japan and has become increasingly popular in various cuisines worldwide.

The unique qualities of yuzu have made it a sought-after ingredient among chefs and culinary enthusiasts. Essential oils from yuzu are often used in perfumes and other beauty products.

Since it’s currently illegal to import yuzu into the United States, it can be hard to find in your local grocery store. However, it is grown domestically in the U.S. and is starting to become more widely available. 

Yuzu Fruit Nutrition Facts

yuzu fruit nutrition facts

Yuzu fruit offers several nutritional benefits. This fruit is high in vitamin C and is a rich source of antioxidants, particularly flavonoids, which may help protect cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. 

It is also a good source of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion, promotes satiety, and helps maintain stable blood sugar levels. Here’s a breakdown of the nutritional information of one medium yuzu:

  • Calories: 24
  • Carbohydrates: 7.8 grams
  • Protein: 0.9 grams
  • Fat: 0.3 grams
  • Fiber: 2.4 grams
  • Sugars: 2.1 grams

Yuzu also contains small amounts of vitamins B5 and B6, and magnesium.

4 Health Benefits of Yuzu Fruit

yuzu fruit health benefits list

Aside from its unique flavor and aroma, yuzu is also known for its many health benefits. Here are 4 potential health benefits of yuzu fruit:

1) Rich Source of Vitamins and Antioxidants

Yuzu fruit is packed with essential vitamins, including vitamin C, and other antioxidants. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that, in adequate amounts, helps protect cells from damage and promotes collagen production.

Other antioxidants found in yuzu, like flavonoids, can help neutralize harmful free radicals and potentially reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

2) Immune-Boosting Properties

Because yuzu is rich in vitamin C, it's also considered a natural immune system booster. Vitamin C in adequate amounts helps strengthen the immune system and supports the body's defense against infections and illnesses.

It’s important to note that higher intake of vitamin C beyond what may be needed to reach adequacy has not been proven to further boost the immune system

3) Potential Anti-inflammatory Effects

several yuzu fruits and one sliced open

Yuzu contains compounds with potential anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation is linked to various health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. The antioxidants and bioactive compounds in yuzu may help reduce inflammation in the body and contribute to overall well-being.

However, it’s always important to consider food within the context of a full dietary approach to better understand its capacity to contribute to or detract from health. Each person may respond to different foods in different ways and this must be taken into consideration. 

4) May Support Cardiovascular Health

The antioxidants in yuzu, along with its high vitamin C content, may have positive effects on cardiovascular health. Antioxidants support heart health, protect blood vessels from oxidative stress, and reduce the risk of plaque formation.

They can also promote healthy blood flow by preventing platelets from sticking to the lining of blood vessels. Animal studies also show that yuzu may reduce damage from heart attacks. While these results are promising, more research is needed. 

Does Yuzu Fruit Cause Blood Sugar Spikes?

someone looking at their blood sugar in the nutrisense app

So, does yuzu fruit affect your blood sugar? Specific data on the glycemic-index of yuzu fruit is limited, making it challenging to determine its exact impact on blood sugar levels. However, yuzu is a good source of fiber, making it relatively less likely to cause a significant spike in blood sugar when consumed in moderation. This is because fiber slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.

While yuzu may contain beneficial fiber, it is important to note that individual responses to different foods can vary. Factors such as current and past medical conditions, overall diet, portion size, and any accompanying food or beverage can influence how a particular food affects blood sugar levels.

It’s advisable for individuals with diabetes or those concerned about blood sugar to monitor their glucose levels after consuming yuzu or any new food.

Can You Eat Yuzu Like An Orange?

a basket with two yuzu fruit on a counter

Many people eat yuzu fruit like an orange, with the fruit sliced or peeled and the flesh eaten directly. The rind, which is fragrant and rich in essential oils, is often grated or finely sliced and used as a flavor enhancer in various dishes. 

Yuzu fruits can also be frozen, either whole or in juice form, for extended storage. Yuzu juice is a widely used form of yuzu consumption. It can be extracted by squeezing the fresh fruit, and the resulting juice can be used as a flavoring agent in beverages, cocktails, dressings, sauces, and marinades. 

Yuzu is also commonly used to create condiments and sauces. Yuzu kosho, a condiment made from yuzu zest, chili peppers, and salt, is a staple in Japanese cuisine. It adds a spicy and citrusy kick to various dishes. Yuzu ponzu sauce, made from yuzu juice, soy sauce, and other ingredients, is another popular condiment used as a dipping sauce or flavor enhancer.

Yuzu seeds are used to extract yuzu seed oil, which is used in cosmetics, aromatherapy, and skincare products. This oil is highly aromatic, rich in antioxidants, and is known for its citrusy scent.

However, the seeds are not typically consumed directly as a food ingredient in Asian cuisine, and instead are primarily utilized for propagation or oil extraction purposes.

3 Yuzu Fruit Recipes to Try At Home

Yuzu fruit can be used as a garnish, a condiment, or an addition to a wide range of meals. Here are a few interesting ways to add a new and healthy touch of flavor to your dish:

1) Yuzu Kosho

yuzu kosho in a bowl

Yuzu kosho is a popular condiment used in Japanese cuisine. It can be used as a seasoning in soups or any dish of your choice, and only requires a few ingredients to whip up.

Ingredients

  • 2 large yuzu fruits
  • 4 green chili pepper, such as serranos, jalapeños, or Thai chilis
  • Salt

2) Yuzu Zest

a pan full of yuzu zest

Another great way to add more yuzu to your plate is to save your yuzu peel and zest it to add to cooked veggies, grilled fish, use as a garnish, or even to make yuzu tea. All you need are a few fresh yuzu fruits.

Ingredients

  • Yuzu peels

3) Yuzu Mayo

a plate of yuzu mayo

For a delicious twist on mayonnaise, try adding a dash of yuzu for extra flavor and added health benefits! Add a tart and tangy flavor to a sandwich, salad dressing, or dip with this yuzu mayo

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons homemade or store-bought mayo of your choice
  • 2 teaspoons yuzu kosho
  • 2 teaspoons yuzu extract
  • ¾ teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1½ teaspoon sesame oil
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Heather Davis, MS, RDN, LDN

Reviewed by: Heather Davis, MS, RDN, LDN

Heather is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN, LDN), subject matter expert, and technical writer, with a master's degree in nutrition science from Bastyr University. She has a specialty in neuroendocrinology and has been working in the field of nutrition—including nutrition research, education, medical writing, and clinical integrative and functional nutrition—for over 15 years.