Food Spotlight: Citruses
Citruses are a variety of fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits. They have a thick skin and pulpy flesh divided into segments. The health benefits of consuming citruses are numerous, some of which are described below:
- Citruses have high content of the antioxidants carotenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenols, that give their color and scent.
- They also contain phytochemicals or secondary metabolites like alkaloids, phenol acids and essential oils that have pharmacological activity in particular anti-oxidative and anti-cancer properties.
- Vitamin C, or L-ascorbic acid, which is good for boosting the immune system and help fight colds is a common ingredient in citruses.
- Vitamin C is involved in metabolic antioxidant response and helps prevent oxidative damage in cells and tissues. It help the body absorb iron. Iron is important for the production of red blood cells.
- Vitamin C is also important for production of collagen that is the main building block of joints and muscles, and keeps your skin healthy and young. Moreover, in combination with vitamin E (d-α-tocopherol), it is good against the hazardous effects of solar UV irradiation and the related occurrence of skin cancer.
- The soluble fiber and flavonoids found in citruses can help rise the good cholesterol (HDL) as well as lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides.
- Flavonoids also have beneficial cardiovascular
- Flavonoids and coumarins that are found in citruses have anti-inflammatory effect that can protect against inflammatory diseases like multiple sclerosis, neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and colon cancer.
- Citruses are refreshing because of the high water content eg. 87% in oranges and 88% in grapefruits. This helps you stay hydrated and prevents dehydration. It also means they are low in calories.
Citruses contain a wide spectrum of other nutrients such as sugars, dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin B9 (folate), calcium, thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (nicotinic acid or form of vitamin B3), vitamin B6, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, riboflavin and pantothenic acid. Dietary fiber is good for digestion and aids weight loss.
Be careful of the citrus quantity you ingest, as too much citruses can damage tooth enamel and increase the risk of cavities. Grapefruit for example can interfere with the absorption, distribution and metabolism of several medications like statins for cholesterol and calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure. This is why you should be careful with its consumption.
Citruses are fragrant, refreshing, juicy and delicious. Citruses can be consumed on many ways: in sweets and desserts (cookies, cakes, cupcakes or muffins), in smoothies, as juices, as an addition to oatmeal, as fresh fruits or part of fruit salads. Citruses can also be added to fish, chicken or salads.
When buying citruses choose the ones that are heavy and have fine and firm skin. You can either keep them at room temperature or in the fridge. It is best to consume fresh fruits that can help keep your overall health.
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