It is a common thing in some Filipino cuisines. It is used as a condiment in pansit canton and arroz caldo. Chicken inasal and inihaw na baboy are not complete without it. It’s a basic sawsawan (Filipino dip)—combined with soy sauce or patis – for fish, lumpiang shanghai, lumpiang singkamas or dumplings.
It is called calamansi or calamondin. Among the Bisaya-speaking Filipinos, it is lemonsito. In other parts of the world, it is known as Philippine lime (scientific name: Citrofortunella microcarpa).
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.
Calamansi is indigenous to the Philippines. The tree grows to about 25 feet tall at maturity. Its pulp has a distinctive flavor described as “a cross between lime and orange.” The tartness of calamansi blends well with other juices, such as banana, apple, grape, papaya, mango and coconut water.
Margarita Fores, Asia’s best female chef, came 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 being a versatile souring ingredient, calamansi is getting popular because of its health benefits. For one, high blood or hypertension finds its match in calamansi. When eating his meals, Dr. Willie T. Ong uses calamansi sauce.
“I don’t have a fish sauce because it is salty and raises blood pressure,” explained Ong, who is running in the Senate come May. “If you really want, just put a little fish sauce. The enemy of high blood is really salt.”
Packed with vitamin C and other beneficial nutrients, calamansi juice has been used as an immune booster for generations. Despite its high levels of citric acid, many people drink it as a soothing substance for the stomach.
People who want to lose weight might consider drinking calamansi juice. “This tropical juice is legendary for its impact on weight loss, as it has the ability to not only boost the metabolism but also eliminate many of the toxins in the body that can contribute to fat storage,” said in the web site 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. Many people drink a glass of calamansi juice every morning to stimulate the body and achieve weight-loss goals,” the web site adds.
Calamansi can also help control cholesterol levels. This is good news, particularly for those who want to lose weight. More important, Organic Facts claims calamansi can “also help lower your risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke.”
Curiously enough, while calamansi is known for its acidic content, it can reportedly help lower acidity. “Despite the high levels of citric and acidity of this fruit, many people drink it as a soothing substance for the stomach,” the Organic Facts says, citing a study published in the Journal of International Oral Health, which throws light on the anti-inflammatory property of tannins from the rind of calamansi.
“[Calamansi] can lower levels of inflammation when consumed in moderation, lower your risk of developing ulcers and protect you from acid reflux disease,” the web site points out.
Here’s a good news for Filipinos who are susceptible to diabetes. Calamansi has been found to help control diabetes. 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 bloodstream, which is excellent news for those suffering from diabetes or those at risk of developing the disease,” the web site says.
Another web site, maintained by Foods for Better Health, calamansi prevents oral problems and keeps kidneys healthy and regular bowel movements. In preventing oral problems, calamansi juice can be used as a mouthwash. “Vitamin C from this juice helps prevent tooth decay, bleeding gums, gingivitis or loosening of teeth,” wrote Farah Shaikh, author of the report. “It helps remove stains and plaque.”
When taken regularly, calamansi juice keeps the kidney healthy. “It reduces foul urine odor and lightens its color,” Shaikh claimed. “Regular intake of the juice also purifies the organs and detoxifies the colon. It improves bowel movement and relieves constipation.”
Another good thing about calamansi is that it strengthens the immune system. Shaikh wrote: “Calamansi has good amounts of minerals and vitamins, especially vitamin C which is essential to building immunity. It provides immunity against viral and bacterial infections. Drinking this juice on a regular basis helps build immunity against the common cold, flu and fever.”
Now the other side of the coin. While calamansi juice has numerous health benefits, Shaikh warned that it should not be consumed in excess, 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.”
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 cement to bind loosely connected cells and tissues; this way, it is able to prevent signs of aging like wrinkles,” wrote Josephine Mills in an article titled, “Calamansi Health Benefits.”
“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.”
Now, there’s a good reason why you should stop drinking soft drinks. Instead, order cold calamansi juice.
Let’s drink to that!
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