Citrus fruits, which belong to the genus Citrus of the family Rutaceae, are of various forms and sizes (from round to oblong), commonly known as oranges, mandarins, limes, lemons, grapefruits and citrons.
Citrus fruits grow on flowering trees and shrubs. They are characterized by a leathery rind and white pith that encases juicy segments. Citrus fruits do some heavy hauling for three of the five main flavors: bitter, sweet, and sour.
Citrus fruit is one of the most important fruits all over the world, due to health-related elements and valuable components which involves vitamins C, carotenoids, flavonoids, pectin, Calcium, Potassium.
Some health benefits of citrus
Citrus fruits have a wide range of biological activity for maintaining body health. Also, Sweet orange and lemon fruits have a vast range of bioactive compounds which reported a 60–70% control of liver diseases.
However, Citrus juice, particularly grapefruit juice contains enzymes particularly P-45 enzyme which is considered a natural tool for obesity control and contains a range of different proteins which burns human fats.
The lemon fruits have numerous bioactive compounds, and the juice of lemon possesses more than 200 compounds which involve regulators of the human body . However, lemon and sweet orange juices have a wide range of bioactive compounds that control about 60–70% of liver diseases through lipids.
Some other important benefits of citrus fruits are;
- They’re a good source of fibre
Women should aim to consume about 25 grams of fibre per day while men should consume about 38g per day and citrus can help you meet that goal. One orange serves up 2.3 grams of fibre, while a tangerine has 1.6 grams. What’s more, about two thirds of the fibre in citrus fruit is soluble fibre, which has been linked to lower cholesterol and helps regulate glucose levels.
The remaining fibre in citrus is insoluble, which adds bulk to our digestive system. Fibre-packed foods like citrus also keep us feeling full and satisfied longer than less-fibrous foods, making them a great snack for weight loss.
2. They’re good for your heart
Citrus contains flavonoids, plant compounds that may promote heart health. In a study of patients who had undergone bypass surgery researchers found that antioxidant-rich red grapefruit helped lower “bad” LDL cholesterol as well as triglyceride levels.
Vitamin C has also been linked to reduced risk of heart disease. However, if you’re taking cholesterol-lowering statins, you may want to skip grapefruit, which may interfere with these medications.
3. They have a low glycemic index
Citrus fruits have relatively low glycemic index scores on the 100-point scale, meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar as much as some other foods. An orange, for example, has a score of 45, and a grapefruit 25. (For comparison, raisins have a score of 64).
This means the glucose in citrus fruit is released into your bloodstream slowly, offering you a steady feeling of energy without a crash later on. But they should also be taken in moderation.
4. They’re packed with potassium
When you hear “potassium,” you probably think of bananas. But citrus is also a great source of this mineral, which is important for fluid regulation, mineral balance, and muscle contraction. Potassium also works to counter-regulate the amount of salt in your diet by helping your body flush out sodium. While this isn’t an excuse to douse your food in salt, it is another good reason to load up on citrus. By eating plenty of potassium-rich foods, you can help lower your risk of stroke by 21%, as well as reduce your risk of heart disease.
5. They may help you better absorb other nutrients
Adding citrus to your plate may help you get more out of other foods you consume. For example, citrus can also help your body absorb iron, a mineral that’s important for the immune system and helps your body produce red blood cells. It is important to then pair citrus fruits with iron-rich foods like leafy greens, fish, poultry, and meat to maximise their nutritional benefits.
6. They’re hydrating
Like cucumbers, watermelon, and tomatoes, citrus fruits have a high water content (oranges are 87% water and grapefruits are 88%). Eating plenty of water-rich foods such as citrus can help you stay hydrated, which is important for quenching your thirst as well as helping you consume enough fluids throughout the day to prevent dehydration and help the body’s systems function properly. Another benefit is that water-rich foods are filling, but low in calories.
7. They help keep skin looking young
Another reason to eat plenty of vitamin C is that it is beneficial for your skin.
Vitamin C plays a role in collagen production, which leads some experts to believe it can help keep skin looking supple and smooth.
Collagen supports the skin, promotes wound healing, and improves skin strength. The outcome of a 2015 review suggests that dietary vitamin C improved how people perceived their skin health and how healthful it actually was, including appearance, wrinkling, elasticity, and roughness.
8. They’re a weight loss staple
Citrus delivers tons of juicy flavour with little to no fat, sodium, or calories (an orange has just 45), making them extremely diet-friendly. What’s more, research has linked low vitamin C blood levels to higher BMIs, waist circumference, and body fat percentage.
To start incorporating more citrus into your diet, try squeezing the juice or grating the zest on chicken, fish, or a salad to instantly boost the flavour. Or try turning the juice into the base for a dressing or sauce (it will brighten up any dish). If all else fails, you can always place a few lemon slices in your water to give it some subtle flavour.
While the overall picture of citrus is pretty rosy, there are a few potential downsides.
A. High Amounts Could Cause Cavities
Eating lots of citrus fruits or juices could increase the risk of cavities. That’s because the acid in citrus fruits erodes tooth enamel. This is a particular risk if you sip on lemon water all day long, bathing your teeth in acid.
B. Fruit Juice Isn’t as Healthy as Whole Fruit
While orange and grapefruit juices contain lots of vitamin C and other nutrients often found in whole citrus fruits, they’re not quite as healthy.
That’s because a serving of juice delivers much more sugar and way less fibre than a serving of whole fruit. And this can lead to
- More sugar per serving translates to more calories. Drinking fruit juice and other high-calorie beverages can cause you to gain weight.
- When your body takes in large amounts of fructose (the type of sugar in fruit juice), it is quickly absorbed into your bloodstream and delivered to your liver.
- If your liver gets more fructose than it can handle, it turns some of the extra fructose into fat. Over time, those fat deposits can cause fatty liver disease.
Getting fructose from whole fruit is not a problem, given that you’re getting a smaller amount at a time. Plus, the fibre found in fruit buffers the fructose, causing it to be absorbed more slowly into your bloodstream.
C. Grapefruit Can Interact With Certain Medications
Eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice can be a problem if you take certain medications.
There’s an enzyme in your gut that reduces the absorption of certain medications. Furanocoumarin, a chemical in grapefruit, binds to this enzyme and keeps it from working properly.
As a result, your body absorbs more medication than it’s supposed to .Furanocoumarin is also found in tangelos and Seville oranges .
There are several prescription and over-the-counter drugs that are affected by grapefruit, including
Some statins, for high cholesterol, including Lipitor and Zocor
Some calcium channel blockers, for high blood pressure, including Plendil and Procardia
Cyclosporine, an immunosuppressant drug
There are many reasons to eat citrus fruits, which are nutritious and contain plant compounds that can protect against a variety of diseases. But aim to consume whole fruits, rather than a lot of fruit juice, as its high sugar content can lead to problems.
Overall, citrus fruits are healthy, low in calories and convenient to eat. Most people could benefit from adding more citrus to their diet.
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