We know that consuming more fruits and vegetables is beneficial for us, but which fruits and vegetables in particular?Common citrus foods include oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes. Typically, oranges, tangerines, clementines and grapefruit are eaten in their raw, whole forms; lemons and limes, however, are normally used as a garnish, in cooking, or in various juice preparations.
Health Benefits of Citrus Fruits
Citrus foods are very beneficial to human health because they contain some key essential nutrients, one of the most important being vitamin C. Vitamin C is extremely important because it is a water soluble antioxidant which allows it to work freely in a liquid environment.
1. Absorbs Free Radicals
It absorbs dangerous free radicals which can develop from high levels of chemical contaminants, inflammation, and normal cellular metabolism.
2. Boosts Immunity
Vitamin C is also extremely important in the immune response, as it stimulates your white blood cells to become more active and attack foreign invaders.
3. Absorbs Iron
If you have read any of my articles regarding iron, I’ve already told you that vitamin C is necessary for the absorption of iron from the foods you eat.
Even if your consumption of red meat is considered high, if your intake of vitamin C is lower, the amount of iron absorbed will be much less.
4. Produces Collagen
The increased intake of citrus foods is also quite important because the higher amounts of vitamin C that are consumed will also allow your body to manufacture collagen.
Collagen is an essential component of skin, connective tissue, and blood vessel walls—therefore the increased intake of vitamin C can repair skin damage caused from UV rays, repair wounds internally or externally, and help prevent your blood vessels from damage caused from cardiovascular disease. High amounts of vitamin C can be found in whole oranges, grapefruit, or from freshly squeezed juice.
5. Reduces Inflammation
The consumption of citrus foods is also a very good idea because of the high amounts of flavonoids which are found in the inner skin of the fruit.
These compounds are potent free radical scavengers which can decrease inflammation and help protect your cells from continual free radical damage.
6. Prevents Cancer
The bioflavonoids contained within various citrus fruits have very important anti-cancer properties which have been shown to decrease cancer cell growth. Extracts of citrus bioflavonoids have also been demonstrated to protect the liver cells from the ravages of chronic alcohol exposure.
Recommended Dosage of Citrus Fruits
I recommend that you consume at least one serving of citrus fruit or juice with pulp on a daily basis. You may need to consume two to three servings per day if you have an increased need for the antioxidants contained within the citrus fruit. I
f you are exposed to toxic chemicals, smoke, have a chronic disease or infection, or if you are a vegan, the daily requirement for vitamin C should be greater.
“Vitamin C,” National Institutes of Health web site; http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/, last accessed May 21, 2013.
Mulvihill, E.E., et al., “Citrus flavonoids and the prevention of atherosclerosis,” Cardiovasc Hematol Disord Drug Targets. December 2012; 12(2): 84-91.
Lai, C.S., et al., “Potent anti-cancer effects of citrus peel flavonoids in human prostate xenograft tumors,” Food Funct. May 14, 2013, published online ahead of print.
Park, H.Y., et al., “Enzymatic modification enhances the protective activity of citrus flavonoids against alcohol-induced liver disease,” Food Chem. August 15, 2013; 139(1-4): 231-40.