Benefits of Citrus Fruits
The citrus family of fruits come from a line of flowering plants and commonly refer to oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits. Other members of the citrus family which are less frequently available commercially, but still equally delicious, include tangerines, kumquats, tangelos, pummelos and ugli fruit, to name just a few. Citrus fruits are full of healthy goodness and extremely beneficial.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), present in all citrus fruits, is an essential component for overall health. Many people turn to Vitamin C at the first sign of a cold or the flu in an attempt to stay healthy or to lessen the duration and severity of the symptoms. Vitamin C also offers the following benefits:
- It boosts the body’s immunity levels.
- It aids in the maintenance of healthy teeth and bones.
- It protects the body from infection.
- It acts as an effective natural antihistamine.
- It is a powerful antioxidant which helps protect the body from free radicals.
- It may help lower blood pressure.
- It can lower the levels of lead in your blood.
- It ensures proper dilation of blood vessels.
- It may help to increase the risk of cataracts by increasing blood flow to the eye.
Aside from all of the benefits of Vitamin C, citrus fruits also offer many other nutritional benefits. Oranges and grapefruits are especially high in Vitamin A, another important immune system booster, and folate, which helps to produce and maintain new cells. Additionally, citrus fruits are rich in both potassium and calcium. Potassium is necessary for the normal functioning of the heart, kidneys and other organs while calcium is crucial for overall bone health and strength.
It is best to eat citrus fruits in their fresh form, either whole or juiced, to maximize their nutritional benefits. A slice of lemon and/or lime added to a glass of cold water makes a refreshing and health boosting drink. Oranges and grapefruits can be eaten just as they are or juiced by hand or with a juicer and enjoyed straight up. Also, wedges of oranges, grapefruits or even kumquats make a tasty addition to a spinach or chicken salad.
Citrus fruits also lend an incredible flavor boost to many paleo recipes, including marinades, baked goods and savory dishes. However, heating citrus to above 350 degrees seriously lessens its overall nutritive benefits. Feel free to enjoy it in these kinds of dishes, but also make sure you try to consume citrus in its raw form on a regular basis so that you can enjoy all of the health benefits it has to offer.