Jams are demonized for their high sugar content, but what about marmalades?
Greek marmalades are significantly lower in sugar content, contain real fruit and are preserved in citrus. They’re considered a healthy part of the Mediterranean diet.
Read on to learn more about the history of marmalades, their health benefits, how to choose the right varieties and how to incorporate them into your diet.
History of marmalades
To be able to have fruits year-round following an abundant harvest, the ancient Greeks often preserved fruits. They made melimilon (μελίμηλον), which was very similar to modern marmalade, except that it was boiled with wine and preserved with honey.
Some of the popular earlier marmalades were made with peaches, nectarines, figs and apricots — all fruits that are abundant in Greece.
Health benefits of marmalades
Of course, there’s nothing healthier than eating fresh strawberries, mandarins and figs. But what if those fruits aren’t in season or readily available?
That’s where marmalades can help supplement your fruit intake. And consider some of the healthy attributes of marmalades:
- High in vitamin C: Since marmalades are rich in fruits and citrus, most blends are typically high in vitamin C. This vitamin supports your immune health by producing white blood cells that fight off infection. 
- Lower in sugar: Unlike jam, which is made from whole or cut pieces of fruit with sugar, marmalade is preserved with citrus (such as orange juice) along with the whole fruit. This means that marmalades are typically lower in added sugar content.
- Rich in antioxidants: Marmalades contain antioxidants from fruits and fruit juices. These healthy antioxidants can help your body fight inflammation. 
- High in fiber: If you struggle with getting enough fiber in your day, you may want to incorporate more fresh fruits, veggies, and some Greek marmalade. Dietary fiber may support your digestion and help you stay full. 
How to choose the healthiest marmalade
When you choose marmalades, make sure to judge them by their cover. Ask yourself the following questions while looking at the ingredient list and nutrition facts:
- Does it contain real fruit? (A good marmalade should have at least 70-80% real fruit.)
- Does it contain minimal added sugar?
- Does it contain no pectin?
- Does it contain no artificial ingredients?
If the answer to all of the questions above is yes, you have a winner! There are many choices of jams and marmalades that are boiled and prepared in small batches that preserve flavor and quality.
How to incorporate marmalades into your diet
In addition to eating lots of fresh fruit, marmalade can help you incorporate more servings of fruit into your diet. It’s what the Greeks do as part of the Mediterranean diet!
Some ways to enjoy marmalade include:
- Spread it on crackers or bread: The most common way to enjoy marmalade is to use it as a spread! Anywhere where you’d normally use jam, try using marmalade.
- Marinate chicken, pork, or fish with marmalade: It’ll add a subtly sweet glaze to your meat.
- Include it with other baking ingredients: Whether you’re baking muffins, bread, or other tasty baked goods, marmalades help add a touch of sweetness and moisture.
- Add it to yogurt, oatmeal or tea: Marmalade complements many of these foods where a natural sweetener is beneficial.
The bottom line
Jams are often dismissed for their high sugar content, but marmalades can often be made with fresh fruit, a citrus base and honey. Greek marmalades date back to ancient Greece. If you’re seeking an easy way to incorporate more fruit into your diet, you may want to pick up a couple of marmalade jars!
- Technical advance: ascorbic acid induces development of double-positive T cells from human hematopoietic stem cells in the absence of stromal cells – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Effect of five-year supplementation of vitamin C on serum vitamin C concentration and consumption of vegetables and fruits in middle-aged Japanese: a randomized controlled trial – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Dietary fiber and weight regulation – PubMed (nih.gov)
About the author
Chrissy Arsenault, MBA, RDN, LD, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and licensed dietitian based in Indianapolis. She obtained her bachelor of science in nutritional science at Cornell University and her MBA at Indiana University Kelley School of Business. She is the founder and CEO of a nutrition communications firm called Pink Pamplemousse LLC, where she creates engaging nutrition and wellness content for clients. She has also coached clients on various health conditions including heart disease, obesity, digestive issues and diabetes over the last seven years. Visit Chrissy’s website.
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