When it comes to harvesting citrus fruits, the Philippines never falls short – especially with the wealth of citrus selections that can be grown locally. However, while a wide variety of citrus fruits are harvested annually, there’s one type that’s almost always a staple in every Filipino household: calamansi.
Also known as the Philippine lime, calamansi is a mainstay in some of the most popular Filipino cuisines. It is used as a condiment in pancit canton and arroz caldo, and as a marinade for chicken inasal and inihaw na baboy. It’s also part of the most basic sawsawan (Filipino dip) – combined with soy sauce, patis, or shrimp paste – for fish, lumpiang shanghai, lumpiang singkamas, or dumplings. But aside from its culinary uses, calamansi is also loaded with many health benefits. In this article, we’ll discuss calamansi, its health benefits, and why it’s considered one of the healthiest fruits.
What Is Calamansi?
Also known as “lemonsito” for the Bisaya-speaking Filipinos and “kalamunding” for the Kapampangan, calamansi is a citrus plant indigenous to the Philippines. It’s native to the Philippines and was first introduced to other parts of Asia by traders who traveled there during trade routes between East Africa and India. Due to its widespread production across the country, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has identified calamansi as “one of the most important fruit crops grown in the Philippines.” In terms of area and production, it ranks fourth to banana, mango, and pineapple.
In terms of its horticultural description, the calamansi tree grows to about 25 feet tall at maturity and yields small green citrus fruits with an average diameter of 1 inch. Its pulp has a distinctive tart flavor described as “a cross between lime and orange,” with individuals commenting that this tartness makes it blend well with other juices, including banana, apple, grape, papaya, mango, and even coconut water.
Calamansi’s unique taste has also made its foray into international cuisine easier – with Margarita Fores, Asia’s best female chef, coming to know calamansi through its juice form. “Calamansi, in general, has a unique flavor,” she commented. Corazon S. Alvina, the culinary writer behind “Slow Food,” considered iced calamansi juice as “one of the most refreshing things in tropical life.”
Aside from its versatile souring properties, calamansi is also well known for its health benefits – which we will discuss next.
What Are the Health Benefits of Calamansi?
Calamansi has been used as an indigenous healing remedy for centuries, thanks to its high levels of Vitamin C and other beneficial nutrients. It may help you fight infections such as the common cold or flu virus infections by boosting your immune system function. Other than its immune-boosting properties, calamansi may also:
Known as a natural digestive aid, calamansi can help relieve acid reflux, bloating, and gas. Despite its high levels of citric acid, many people drink it as a soothing substance for the stomach, thanks to its ability to improve digestion and prevent diarrhea.
Calamansi juice has been known to help alleviate constipation by increasing bile flow in the body. In addition, calamansi works as a natural digestive aid that helps with the digestion of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. It also contains vitamin C, which allows the body to absorb iron and help prevent anemia.
Help in Weight Loss
One of the most well-known health benefits of calamansi is weight loss. Calamansi is rich in vitamin C and iron, which helps your body absorb the nutrients needed for weight loss. People who want to lose weight might consider drinking calamansi juice. “This tropical juice is legendary for its impact on weight loss, as it cannot only boost the metabolism but also eliminate many of the toxins in the body that can contribute to fat storage,” said the website of Organic Facts.
“By increasing metabolic speed, this juice can improve passive fat-burning throughout the day while detoxifying the body will help all of your organ systems run more smoothly and function properly, aiding in calorie burning. By reducing fat storage, you will have more usable energy and less adipose fat formation.” But what’s the best time to drink calamansi juice for weight loss? “Many people drink a glass of calamansi juice every morning to stimulate the body and achieve weight-loss goals,” the website adds.
Help Regulate Blood Sugar
Here’s good news for Filipinos who are susceptible to diabetes. Calamansi has been found to benefit diabetes patients because it controls diabetes symptoms. A study cited in the International Journal of Science and Research has been done on the blood sugar-moderating effects of calamansi juice. “It can help regulate the release of glucose and insulin into the bloodstream, which is excellent news for those who have diabetes or those at risk of developing the disease,” the study says.
Prevent Kidney Stones
Calamansi is rich in citric acid, which helps to dissolve kidney stones. Calamansi also contains calcium and potassium. These minerals can help reduce the risk of kidney stones by regulating blood pressure, preventing mineral loss in urine (which can cause kidney stones), and reducing inflammation. Aside from its role in kidney stone prevention, calamansi juice also benefits kidney health. According to Farah Shaikh, an author at Foods for Better Health, calamansi juice can help keep the kidney healthy. “It reduces foul urine odor and lightens its colors.”
Treat Skin Problems
Calamansi is an excellent natural treatment for skin problems such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis, thanks to its antiseptic properties. Calamansi can also be used as an excellent astringent to tighten pores, leaving your face looking younger and more refreshed after use.
Additionally, calamansi also increases collagen production. Vitamin C, which calamansi is loaded, is a crucial element in collagen production, which is the compound needed to create every tissue, muscle fiber, and cell in the body. “Collagen acts as a cement to bind loosely connected cells and tissues; this way, it can prevent signs of aging like wrinkles,” wrote Josephine Mills in an article titled “Calamansi Health Benefits.”
Even Out Skin Tone and Lighten Dark Spots
Calamansi is a citrus fruit that has many skin health benefits. Not only can it be used as a natural treatment for sore throat and skin problems, but it also helps to lighten dark spots on the face caused by pimples and acne scars. According to Mills, “Calamansi juice can also tone and refine the skin when applied topically,” Mills writes further. “The fruit also helps make the skin fairer since it acts as a mild bleach. The fruit extract can be applied to the affected area safely, without causing burning sensation or irritation.”
Improve Oral Health
Aside from fluoride, vitamin C is also considered essential for the maintenance of gum and overall mouth health. Calamansi juice can be used to prevent tooth decay, bleeding gums, gingivitis, or even loosening of teeth, according to Farah Shaikh, an author from Foods for Better Health.
To utilize calamansi juice, you can use it as a mouthwash or gum tonic, as it has antiseptic properties that keep your breath fresh and free from germs and remove stains and plaque from your teeth.
Removes Oil and Dirt from Hair Follicles
One of the best uses of calamansi is that it can be used as a natural cleanser for hair. It can be used as a natural shampoo, conditioner, and hair mask. Calamansi has been shown to remove oil and dirt from your scalp’s follicles by dissolving blockages in the pores of your skin that form when you sweat, thus cleansing them from within. This leads to less buildup on your head, which makes it easier for you to wash off excess oil or dirt with just water after working out or playing sports outdoors during hot weather conditions like those experienced during summertime months.
Just a Word of Warning: Avoid Excessive Calamansi Use When Pregnant!
While calamansi juice has numerous health benefits, Shaikh warned that it should not be consumed excessively, especially during pregnancy. “Citrus fruits like lemon and calamansi can trigger heartburn during pregnancy,” she explained. “Also, citrus juices may cause stomach cramps, indigestion, or diarrhea if consumed in excessive amounts.”
Just remember that anything in excess is rarely beneficial – especially when it comes to health. So, while the health benefits of calamansi surely outweigh the risk, know how to limit your intake just enough for you and your family to enjoy the positive effects it can bring to your health.
Image credits: Henrylito D. Tacio