• Emily Achey, MS, RD

6 Reasons To Love Citrus

Citrus Fruits, including the orange, clementine, grapefruit, lemon and lime, are packed with beneficial nutrients for the human body. They are in season through the American winter, making them a fresh and affordable choice when the berries and other summer seasonal fruits are out!

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is the popular kid on the block when it comes to citrus. One orange packs in 100% of your Vitamin C needs for the whole entire day! However, we should also take time to acknowledge the antioxidants, fiber, water and potassium content in these fruits. These nutrients and more make up the following 6 reasons to love citrus:

1. Immunity

One important role of Vitamin C within the body is its effects on the immune system. Several kinds of immune protecting cells, including T-cells and phagocytes, need Vitamin C to do their job effectively. Consuming citrus on a regular basis is a great dietary approach to protect yourself from the infamous cold and flu season. Let’s not to forget to mention that they are in-season during the colder months. Just one prime example of how our natural agricultural patterns are smarter than the food industry!

2. Youthful Skin

The Vitamin C found in citrus also has an important role in the regeneration of collagen. Collagen is the compound in our skin that is responsible for maintaining its elasticity, thus youthful appearance. In addition, Vitamin C has been found to interfere with melanin synthesis, which helps to reduce the appearance of dark spots on the skin. Don’t you love it when consuming an optimized diet has such pleasant side effects? Keep it up, citrus!

3. Digestion

When I say digestion, you say FIBER! Yes, citrus fruits are a great source of fiber, notably soluble fiber, which is known for its benefit on promoting healthy cholesterol levels within the body. One orange contains approximately 2.5g of fiber, which can certainly help you achieve your daily fiber goal (14g fiber per 1000 calories consumed, according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans). In addition, citrus fruits also naturally have a high water content, which serves to hydrate the gut, and adds to its beneficial digestive capacity.

4. Anti Inflammation

Citrus contains both flavonoids and carotenoids, two extremely beneficial classes of phytonutrients present in some produce. These phytonutrients (plant nutrients) provide amazing antioxidant activity for our bodies. Pop quiz: what is the benefit of antioxidants for our body? Answer: aides in fighting inflammation (a.k.a anti inflammatory)! Flavonoids and carotenoids are powerful antioxidants that devour damaging free radical compounds within our body, which helps to reduce joint pain, and prevent inflammatory driven diseases such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer.

5. Healthy Metabolism

Citrus fruits benefit the human metabolism in a few ways. First off, the metabolism is a complex orchestra of chemical reactions that all work together to make our body efficient. These chemical reactions require nutrients, and in many cases, the combination of nutrients. Citrus, as we know by now contains Vitamin C, which actually aides in the absorption of another important nutrient, Iron. One real food application would be a spinach salad (spinach contains iron) with mandarin oranges, or squeezing fresh lemon juice over a steak (red meat contains iron).

The potassium content in citrus also contributes to a healthy metabolism. Potassium is a part of chemical reactions within the body that promote healthy fluid balance, benefiting the heart and nervous system. So, a healthy metabolism doesn’t just mean ‘weight management’ as primarily promoted in today’s society, but it means a healthy body as a whole!

6. Mood and Energy Boost

You know that smell when your coworker is eating an orange in the next room over? Well, that potent fragrance has been found to give our mood and energy an prompt boost. The olfactory bulb (the smelling center) is connected to the limbic system in the brain, which is directly related to immediate emotional changes. Simply breathing in the smell of oranges can increase positive feelings and alertness. Studies suggest this scent may even be an effective treatment for individuals with depressive symptoms. But that’s not all! An article called ‘The Sense of Using Scents to Make Cents’ also describes the power of scents in retail settings on shopper spending behavior. Citrus was one scent found to nearly double average purchases. Verrrrry interesting. Diffusing citrus essential oils are an excellent way to boost your mood (and the mood of those around you) in your home… or store front ;)

#citrus #nutrition

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