Ward off anemia, osteoporosis and cholesterol by eating citrus fruits!
If you are not into the habit of eating a daily serving of citrus fruits, today we tell some unquestionable reasons for you to start doing so; you’ll start feeling healthy in the most natural way.
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What are citrus fruits?
Citrus fruits –or simply citrus– mainly include:
These fruits are delicious, colorful and refreshing, and they stand out for their distinct sour taste. They owe their particular features to flavonoids, which are substances proven to have anticarcinogenic and antioxidant properties.
Properties and nutritional value of citrus fruits
Citrus contain antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, folic acid, and vitamin A.
A 100 gram serving (approximately half a fruit) of orange, grapefruit or tangerine has:
- 32 to 53 calories
- 8 to 13 grams total carbohydrates
- 7 to 11 grams of sugar
All citrus fruits have fiber, although 1 orange has twice as much fiber as 1 grapefruit. Almost 70% of the fiber in citrus fruits belongs to the soluble type and it helps to reduce cholesterol and to lower the blood sugar level.
The remaining fiber present in citrus fruits is insoluble and it contributes to preventing constipation.
Vitamin C aids in the production of collagen, hence enhancing the elasticity of the skin and tendons. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and it helps prevent cardiovascular disease.
The daily intake of vitamin C required by men is 90 milligrams, while women need 75 milligrams. One small orange yields 53 milligrams of vitamin C.
Flavonoids are responsible for both the color and the flavor so characteristic of citrus. They help reduce inflammation and are believed to prevent cancer. The pith in citrus fruits has the largest amount of flavonoids; therefore, if you eat the whole fruit as opposed to drinking a glass of juice, you will get five times more flavonoids.
Folate is a key vitamin that helps in the production of new cells. This, in turn, encourages the production of DNA, ribonucleic acid (RNA) and red blood cells, thus warding off anemia.
Potassium is a mineral with a key role in maintaining the acid balance in the body, in transmitting nerve impulses to muscles, in muscle contraction and in keeping the blood pressure at normal levels.
Citrus fruits you probably had never heard of
- Cara cara orange: on the outside it looks exactly like a regular orange, but on the inside it is pinkish red. This orange is at the same time sweet and tangy.
- Blood orange: its interior is bright red and its flavor is very intense, with notes of raspberries.
- Tangelo: grapefruit marries tangerine in this citrus fruit. It features a sweet taste.
Greatest benefits and healing properties of citrus fruits
Citrus contain carbohydrates, potassium, folic acid, calcium, vitamin B6, phosphorus, magnesium, thiamin, niacin, copper, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and phytochemicals. They contain no fat, no sodium, no cholesterol, plus they pack very few calories.
Numerous studies claim that citrus fruits can help reduce the risk of several diseases:
Research suggests that vitamin C contributes to preventing cardiovascular disease and a rise in the levels of cholesterol.
Citrus fruits have a protective effect against cancer (Block, Patterson and Subat, 1992). It is believed that this protective effect is associated with the presence of vitamin C.
Neural tube defects
During the first stages of pregnancy, folate intake aids in reducing the risk of severe birth defects. To prevent this condition, the recommended daily intake of folic acid is 400 mcg.
Vitamin C can increase iron absorption while it helps prevent anemia, a health problem that may impair physical performance and cognitive function. Eating citrus fruits rich in vitamin C can prevent anemia.
The intake of vitamin C has been associated with bone mineral density and with the prevention of osteoporosis, but more research is needed in this area.
According to studies, people who are prone to develop stones exhibit insufficient levels of citrate in their urine; it is then concluded that citrus intake could help prevent kidney stones.
Some research suggests that a diet poor in vitamin C is a risk factor for asthma (Hatch, 1995).
Citrus fruits additionally offer the following advantages:
- They help you with weight control: they are low-calorie, high in dietary fiber, thus helping you feel full.
- They boost your immune system: vitamin C is essential for the immune system to work properly.
Tips to add citrus into your diet
There are so many ways to incorporate citrus fruits besides eating them as dessert after a meal or as a snack in the middle of the day. You can also try:
- Using citrus wedges in your salads and sauces.
- Adding lemon juice and lemon slices to your fish or chicken dish.
- Making vinaigrettes with orange or lime juice.
- Preparing smoothies with whole citrus fruits (peeled).
- Making desserts and sweet treats with citrus fruits, such as lemon pie, orange or lime mousse, etc.
Which one is your favorite citrus fruit? Tell us!
Sources: Dairy Council of California, fao.org, SF Gate.
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