Citrus is More Than Vitamin C
Citrus season is in full swing here in SoCal and it’s amazing! The oranges are super sweet and juicy, the grapefruit are divine, and lemons and limes are in abundance. It’s magical and an absolutely stunning display of nature.
Everyone knows about the Vitamin C in citrus fruits-- we’ve been hearing since we were young about how good Vitamin C is for helping boost our immune system and keep cold and flu germs at bay. You may also know that citrus was used to prevent scurvy on transatlantic ship adventures long ago or that lime juice was used to deter cholera outbreaks in West Africa (those who sprinkled it on their rice dishes did not catch the disease!) Citrus fruit has pretty incredible healing properties!
Vitamin C also supports other parts of your body. Did you know that it helps protect the lens of your eyes? Or that it helps maintain the health of your adrenal glands, which produce hormones that we need, particularly in times of stress? Or that Vitamin C can improve the health of your joints and gums? It’s pretty incredible. And while it certainly is a powerhouse for fighting infection and strengthening our immune systems, these other qualities should not be overlooked!
Citrus fruits boast other amazing qualities as well, read on to learn what eating these fruits can do to boost your overall health.
Orange contain a flavinoid called hesperin, which can help lower high blood pressure and cholesterol levels in your body when consumed. Hesperin also has anti-inflammatory properties which will help your body to fight off stress in your body (from joint inflammation to mental stress!)
Hesperin isn’t found in the orange fleshy part of the orange or in the peel. Instead, it’s found in the white pithy part of the orange that we all try to pick off of our orange slices. I’m not saying that you need to eat ALL of the white pith inside your orange, but eat as much as you can stand on your slices in order to gain the benefits of hesperin.
Did you know that grapefruit gets its name because they grow in clusters like grapes? They are believed to be the result of some natural crossbreeding between oranges and pomelos. Grapefruit is a good source of soluble fiber, potassium, and folic acid, along with Vitamin C, but it also has some other special properties.
The pectin found in grapefruit has been shown to have cholesterol-lowering effects, which would, in turn, also lower the risk of heart disease. The pectin can also help to normalize hematocrit levels. Low levels of hematocrit usually signal anemia in the body and high levels generally signal dehydration or an increase of red blood cells. Eating grapefruit could help to normalize these levels so that you are neither too low or too high.
The pulp of the grapefruit also contains glucarates which can help prevent breast cancer by riding the body of extra estrogen. This little (well, maybe big?) citrus is kind of amazing, don’t you think? Excuse me while I go round up a week's worth of grapefruit.
Lemons & Limes
Lemons and limes have a lot of similarities. They are both good sources of Vitamin B6, which is part of the Vitamin B Complex family. Vitamin B6 is known for providing energy, balancing your blood sugar, and improving your mood. You can learn more about B6 and the symptoms of deficiency here.
Lemons and limes are also good sources of potassium, folic acid, and the phytochemical limonene. Limonene is found in that white, pithy part of the fruit and is being used in trials to dissolve gallstones. Let food be thy medicine!
Both lemons and limes have sweeter and more sour varieties. For lemons, you’ll find the sweeter version to be a meyer lemon, which have a slightly tangy aroma and are less acidic than sour lemons. They are almost orange in color when they are mature and ready to use. Lemons are great for salad dressings, sliced into your water (hot or cold!), and squeezed over your soups for depth of flavor.
Sweeter limes are not easily found in the US at this time, but the notably sour version, the key lime, can be found fairly easily. Limes can be used interchangeably with lemons when cooking. Try squeezing lime over your rice dishes, making your own limeade, or squeezing some onto your next breakfast of avocado toast. YUM!
This group of fruits is really pretty incredible. Even more reasons to eat as many as you can during this beautiful citrus season!
It's also worth noting that these fruits are best purchased organically as they can have high levels of pesticides if grown conventionally. To get the best benefit choose organic citruis
What is your favorite kind of citrus fruit and why do you love it? Find me on Facebook or Instagram and share your answers under the picture above!