The Power of Sour: Yuzu for a New You
You’ve probably seen ‘yuzu’ floating around on the menus at trendy restaurants and hip cocktail bars, used in conjunction with both sweet and savoury flavours, this Asian “wonder fruit” is all the rage right now. Celebrated for its versatility and ability to enhance a variety of dishes, from starters to sauces, garnishes, desserts, and drinks, yuzu has successfully infiltrated the kitchen of many a master chef and home cooking enthusiast. But why is everyone going gaga over this deceptively simple-looking little citrus? We’re here to let you know!
What is Yuzu?
For unknowing eyes, yuzu may look like small, underdeveloped lemons but you know what they say about judging a book by its cover. Don’t be fooled by the funny exterior, this seed-packed citrus fruit packs a punch! Formally known as Citrus Junos and sometimes known as Yuja, this exotic fruit has its roots in China, tracing back more than a millennium. It then spread to Japan, Korea, and many other parts of the world. Yuzu is more tangy and sour than lemons, more aromatic, and they have thicker yellow skin than other citrus fruits.
Yuzu belongs to the Rutaceae family, along with limes, oranges, lemons, and grapefruit. Its shrub or small tree has long thorns and can grow up to 6 feet tall, and can withstand cold climates. The fruit is usually rough and has a skin that is green or yellow depending on the level of ripeness.
Yuzu is a popular ingredient in East Asian cuisine - particularly the Japanese are very fond of yuzu. The seeds, juice, and peel act as gourmet flavourings in marmalades, vinegar, sauces, and seasonings. Yuzu oil is often used in aromatherapy, cosmetics, and perfume. Although the fruit is incredibly fragrant, the flavours are a deep and complex mixture of acidity, sweetness, and a darker, spicier note on the edge of bitterness. And boy does it pack a flavour punch. A little certainly goes a long way.
Yuzu Cocktails - a Mixologist’s Dream
Raq yuzu is a powerful flavour as the solo artist , but it also harmonizes well with other ingredients as a supporting act due to its multifaceted flavour profile. It pairs well with most alcoholic beverages, such as whiskey, tequila, gin, and vodka, so it’s quickly become a staple in cocktail culture. We’ve seen smoked yuzu peel as a garnish, yuzu crushed ice daiquiris, yuzu infused gin, and even yuzu flavoured craft beer. Yuzu-makin’ us crazy! We say keep ‘em coming!
Yuzu the Tastemaker - the Chef’s Companion
Whether you’re watching Master Chef or Kitchen Disasters, chances are, you’ve spotted yuzu. Maybe you’ve even seen it on a menu or had a taste of it - perhaps you’ve already converted to yuzu-ism! Whatever the case, yuzu is here to stay in both its original Asian cuisines and its adopted western ones. Yuzu tea and marmalade are especially popular in Korea, but it’s truly a star in Japanese kitchens. It’s the key ingredient in Ponzu sauce, the rind is used as a fragrant and elegant garnish, and it adds freshness to sashimi and salad. Yuzu gives a kick to any vinaigrette, is a smash in soups, and dazzles in desserts. We really can’t think of anything it can’t do!
Yuzu the Beautifier - Attention all Beauty Queens
Yuzu holds a special place in the heart of the Japanese, who associate it with good omens. As far back as the early 18th century, yuzu has been used in a bathing ritual on the winter solstice. Whole yuzu fruits and halved fruits are placed into hot bathwater, releasing their luscious scent and enveloping bathers not only with their fragrance, but also nutrients and antioxidants that brighten the skin, improve circulation, detoxify your body, and provide deep relaxation. Yuzu oil is used to nourish dry and damaged hair and treat skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis and is also said to help with blemishes and signs of ageing. We want to be yuzu-infused from head to toe!
Health benefits of Yuzu
Although yuzu is low in calories, it is highly nutritious. It contains vitamin B6, proteins, thiamine, fat, vitamin A, fibre, vitamin C, copper, and vitamin B5. It also has small amounts of vitamin E, magnesium, niacin, iron, riboflavin, and calcium. In addition, it harbours strong plant compounds, such as limonoids, carotenoids, and flavonoids. These plant compounds are powerful antioxidants in the human body that help promote heart health, fight cancer cells, and reduce inflammation.
Also, yuzu is packed with potassium. The mineral is important for muscle contraction, mineral balance, and fluid regulation. It also plays a vital role in regulating the amount of salt in your body by helping your body flush out sodium. Although this is not an excuse to increase your salt intake, it is a good reason to bring some yuzu into your life. Plus, eating plenty of potassium-rich foods helps reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Contains powerful antioxidants
Antioxidants are typically vitamins C and E and other plant compounds that help the body regulate free radicals and boost your immunity. Free radicals are reactive compounds that cause cell damage and oxidative stress when their concentration exceeds the normal level. Oxidative stress is usually associated with many chronic conditions. Diets that are full of antioxidants are thought to reduce the risks of certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and brain ailments. Right now, anything with immunity boosting properties is top of our priority list.
Yuzu contains several antioxidants, such as flavonoids, vitamin C, and carotenoids. Vitamin C not only acts as an antioxidant but it also helps in the regeneration of other antioxidants in the body, such as vitamin E. Studies show that limonene, an aromatic compound found in the fruit’s peel, is an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties that could be beneficial in treating asthma. Test tube and animal studies show that yuzu’s antioxidants can help fight some chronic conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and obesity.
Could improve blood flow
Several animal and test-tube studies reveal that yuzu extract could have anti-clotting properties by inhibiting the grouping of platelets. Blood clotting is important in stopping bleeding. It is important to note that excessive clotting can cause blockages in large and small blood vessels, which can lead to stroke, heart attack, or heart disease.
Research has shown that the anti-clotting property is associated with two flavonoids, haringin and naringin, which exist both in the yuzu flesh and skin. By enhancing your blood flow, yuzu reduces your risk of getting heart disease. However, there is a need for additional human studies to substantiate the results.
Potentially reduces the risk of cancer
Yuzu contains several compounds that have anticancer properties, attributed to its limonin content. Test-tube studies reveal that limonin can fight prostate, breast, and colon cancer cells. Furthermore, yuzu peel contains the flavonoids nobiletin and tangeretin. In test-tube studies, nobiletin can suppress tumour growth, while tangeretin can inhibit leukaemia cell growth.
Can protect your brain
Test-tube and animal studies show that yuzu could be beneficial in protecting your brain from certain brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. An animal study involving rats with induced brain dysfunction suggested that long-term intake of yuzu improved blood sugar control and brain function. Also, yuzu contains the flavonoid naringenin that has certain brain-protective properties. It also reduces oxidative stress linked with brain-damaging proteins.
Could have soothing effects
Yuzu has a unique aroma that is linked to compounds like linalool and limonene, which have a soothing effect. In addition, there is a study suggesting that yuzu oil can induce a relaxed state that may reduce anxiety and tension. Yuzu aromatherapy can decrease fatigue and feelings of stress and negativity, similar to lavender oil.
Can boost immunity
Yuzu juice and extract are high in antioxidants and vitamin C. Both are important in keeping you healthy and boosting your immune system. Recent studies suggest that vitamin C is essential in reducing the severity and duration of respiratory tract infections. Furthermore, it can also prevent indigestion, pneumonia, and malaria.
Antioxidants are also important in keeping the immune system strong. They prevent cell damage linked with free radicals. When the number of free radicals gets too high in your body, you will experience oxidative stress which is linked to several health conditions. Antioxidants also protect your body against infection from viruses and bacteria.
Could slow down the skin ageing process
One of the primary factors contributing to the ageing process is glycation. According to research from Doshisha University in Kyoto, glycation occurs when excess sugars existing in your bloodstream bind to proteins. The binding process forms advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that compromise the function and structure of fibres in your body. In addition, the glycation process also compromises elastin and collagen, the two proteins that are essential for plump skin and a radiant complexion. In other words, excess sugar weakens cell structures in your skin and makes you prone to deeper smile lines and wrinkles.
In addition, the study at Doshisha University added that citrus fruit extracts, including yuzu, have a high anti-glycation activity that prevents the formation of AGEs.
Good source of soluble fibre
All citrus fruits are a rich source of soluble fibre. Health experts recommend that you have 14 grams of fibre for every 1000 calories you eat. However, few people consume the recommended daily intake. Fibre has several health benefits, including aiding weight loss and improving digestive health.
Furthermore, recent studies show that fibre could be effective in lowering cholesterol levels in your body. In comparison to vegetables, citrus fruits have a higher ratio of soluble fibre to insoluble fibre. Also, soluble fibre creates a conducive environment for healthy bacteria in your gut. A healthy gut is crucial to your health and wellbeing.
Approximately two-thirds of fibre in all citrus fruits are soluble. The remaining fibre is insoluble, and it can add bulk to the food you consume. It will keep you feeling full and satisfied longer than when you consume foods with minimal fibre. It could reduce your junk food intake and aid in weight loss.
Could reduce your risk of kidney stones
Due to unhealthy lifestyles, especially poor eating habits, kidney stones have become more common than ever. Kidney stones are mineral crystals that form when your urine is highly concentrated or when you have an abnormal level of stone-forming minerals in your blood and urine. Other types of kidney stones are caused by low levels of citrate in your body. Yuzu can raise the level of citrate in your body and reduce the risk of kidney stones. Drinking yuzu juice could be a natural alternative to taking potassium citrate supplements.
Can improve the bioavailability of other nutrients
Yuzu juice could help you get more out of the food you eat. Vitamin C increases the availability of antioxidants in the food you consume. It can also improve your body’s ability to absorb iron, a mineral that is vital in helping your body produce red blood cells. Pairing yuzu with other foods, such as leafy greens, could maximise their nutritional benefits.
How do I get my hands on Yuzu?
Yuzu is notoriously difficult to source, and expensive to acquire. Fear not thought, at Botanic Lab we’ve done the leg work for you. Yin Yang Yuzu is a botanical drink infused with yuzu, green tea, and bitter orange to give you the perfectly balanced flavour profile and provide your body with the inner balance it craves . It is a natural energy drink that is low in calories and contains 100% natural ingredients. These include:
- Natural bitter orange extract - commonly used to support gut health and combat indigestion and nausea. It is also said to improve athletic performance and treat nasal congestion and heartburn.
- Water - everyone knows water is good for you, duh.
- Yuzu zest - densely packed with nutrients, especially vitamins and minerals (and extra flavour punch) Agave nectar - a natural alternative to artificial sweeteners and refined sugars.
- Green tea extract - can help with exercise recovery, promotes weight loss, aids in disease prevention, reduces blood fat levels, improves brain health, and much more.
- Lemon juice - has several health benefits such as preventing kidney stones, supporting weight loss, improving skin quality, and aiding digestion.
- Yuzu juice - obviously the star of the show.
Sippy-Dee-Doo-Dah with Yin Yang Yuzu
We bet you can’t wait to experience the delicious benefits of yuzu yourself! Head to our shop and do your taste buds and your body a favour with our balancing beverage. It’s a must-have for days when you feel caught between being a couch potato and running a marathon - whatever you decide, we at Botanic Lab are cheering you on.