If you’re looking to shake things up a bit, we’ve got just the new, exotic drink for you. Citron tea! One of the best citron tea benefits is that it offers an nourishing alternative to lemon flavored tea or water. This article will review 1) WTF is a citron?
2) Citrus fruits’ health benefits
3) Citron recipes
What is a citron?
Lemons are super common, but you may be asking: what is a citron? Citron is basically the OG of citrus fruits, as it’s suspected to be one of the four original citrus fruits first discovered…like EVER (1). Botanically, it is known as Citrus medica. The citron fruit resembles the size of an orange, but is bright yellow in color – similar to that of a lemon. It has a wrinkly, yet very thick skin which gives it quite the unconventional appearance!
There are a few varieties of the citron fruit. One of the most popular is known as Buddha’s hand. Surprisingly, the name of this unique fruit fits its appearance very well! Finger-like strands coming from the base of the fruit resemble a pair of praying hands. The Buddha hand fruit health benefits are very similar to that of other varieties of citron fruit.
Unlike the lemon, which is mostly used for its juicy pulp, citron fruits are quite dry on the inside. The thick white rind of the citron is the most commonly used part of the fruit. This fleshy part of the citron fruit has a subtly sweet taste. Throughout the world, many countries have different uses for citron. For example, Pakistan uses the fruit to make jam, while India often makes pickled citron. In Korea, the citron fruit (which they call “yujacha”) is used to make tea. Here in the U.S., the most common uses the citron fruit is for holiday fruit cakes.
There are a few different names for Citron/Citron tea such as:
- Buddha’s hand fruit
- Korean citron tea
Citron Tea Benefits
While citron may not be as popular as other citrus fruits, like lemons or oranges, this unique citrus fruits health benefits are just as impressive.
Wards off the common cold
Catching a cold can throw a wrench in any health or exercise plans. Thankfully, nutrition plays a huge role in boosting our immune system, and even warding off common illnesses like a cold. Much of this is due to certain vitamins, like vitamin C. One of the major citron tea benefits is its high vitamin C content!
So, how does vitamin C help our immune system? Our white blood cells have ten times the amount of vitamin C than other parts of our blood – which may give us a sign why it prevents sickness (2). White blood cells act like little vacuums in our blood, cleaning up infections and dangerous bacteria that can cause illness. Without enough vitamin C, our immune system may not be able to fight off infections as well. Vitamin C also affects the function of other immune system cells, and acts as an antioxidant helping to reduce inflammation.
Various cultures, especially Korean cultures, have utilized the citron tea benefits for conditions like sore throats, cough, and the common cold for hundreds of years!
Improves exercise recovery
Exercise is a form of physical stress on our body. This is a type of stress that usually leads to GOOD things, but we should still focus on nourishing our body before, during, and after exercise to improve recovery! Some demanding exercise regimens may generate more free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that may cause damage and inflammation. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, which is one of the major citrus fruit health benefits. As an antioxidant, vitamin C can help reduce free radicals from exercise (2).
Additionally, about 10 percent of the general population suffer from a condition known as “exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.” In this condition, the person’s airways narrow during or after exercise which then obviously leads to less oxygen delivery, and sometimes coughing. Not fun at all! Some studies have shown vitamin C to reduce the severity of this condition, which may be due to its beneficial effects on lung function (3). Breathing more oxygen and less inflammation after exercise sounds like pretty good reasons to try a citron recipe to us!
May reduce your risk of cancer
The citron fruit is also high in phytochemicals. These are compounds found in plants that have beneficial effects on our health! In particular, citrus fruits (like citron) contain a type of phytochemical called carotenoids. Carotenoids are plant pigments which give certain vegetables their distinguishable yellow, orange, or red color. Like vitamin C, carotenoids also act as antioxidants to help reduce damage to cells and lower inflammation. These types of phytochemicals are basically cancer fighters in your food (even the American Institute for Cancer Research says so)!
A few cancer fighting benefits from foods high in phytonutrients, like citron, include (4):
- Block substances we eat, drink and breathe from becoming carcinogens.
- Reduce inflammation that may lead to abnormal cell growth.
- Prevent damage to your DNA.
- Slows the growth rate of cancer cells.
Pretty impressive, right?!
How can we incorporate this unique fruit into our meals and drinks? Let’s talk about a few citron tea recipes and other ways to use citron.
In this basic citron tea recipe, the citron is sliced into a bowl and tossed with some sugar. The basic tea is made by adding a few tablespoons of the citron/sugar mixture with boiling water and waiting a few moments to cool before drinking. Easy peasy!
This recipe is similar to the basic tea recipe but using sparkling water instead for a cool, summer alternative!
The Buddha’s hand variety of citron fruit does not have much edible flesh, but serves as an excellent zest to any dishes that need a lemon-blossom like flavor. Try adding this delicious zest to salad dressings, baked goods, or marinades. Yum! If you’re looking to use the little bit of Buddha’s hand, this candied citron recipe may be a good option to sweeten snacks like plain, full-fat yogurt, or oatmeal.
When life gives you lemons, trade them for citron!
In order to find citron, you may have to check with a specialty produce store, or your local Asian market. Like other citrus fruits, citron provides excellent nutrition benefits like boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation and free radicals after exercise, and offering cancer preventing effects. Most people use citron to make tea, but you can also add it as a zest to various recipes for a delicious and exotic flavor profile. Let’s start reaping the citron tea benefits!