Around the globe, citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruit, kumquats, lemons, and limes, are among the most popular fruits because of their tangy flavor and potent nutrient lineup. Originating in Southeast Asia in 4,000 B.C., citrus fruits soon conquered the world, as they became cultivated and incorporated into the food culture in many countries.
The American Southern tradition of lemonade, along with Scottish marmalades, and North Africa’spreserved lemons are a few examples of the way people have used their prized citrus.
Citrus fruits are most famous for their high vitamin C content. Just one large orange provides 163 percent DV (Percent Daily Value, based on 2,000 calories per day.) Vitamin C is important for many body functions, including maintaining bones, teeth, muscles, skin, ligaments and blood vessels; acting as an antioxidant to fight damaging free radicals that can lead to disease, healing wounds, and promoting a healthy immune function.
In fact, 16th century seamen figured out that if they stocked their ships with citrus fruit, they could avoid scurvy–a condition marked by lethargy and spongy gums due to vitamin C deficiency–that occurred during long periods at sea.
But vitamin C isn’t the only nutrient you’ll garner from citrus; the fruits are rich in essential vitamins and minerals, like potassium, folate, calcium, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid, as well as fibers like pectin and lignin, which are linked with heart protection.
In addition, more than 170 different phytochemicals have been identified in citrus fruits, including monoterpenes, limonoids, flavonoids, and carotenoids, which have documented antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, and anti-cancer effects.
Citrus health bonus
Eating citrus has been linked with protection from heart disease, stroke, arthritis, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive decline, multiple sclerosis, age-related eye disease, ulcerative colitis, and diabetes, according to a review of the science on citrus fruits and health performed by Australia’s research organization, The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research.
High citrus fruit intake also is linked with a 40 percent to 50 percent reduction in the risk of several cancers, such as esophageal, larynx, mouth, and stomach. It looks like you just got another reason to start your day out right with citrus.
(Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384.www.EnvironmentalNutrition.com.)
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