A glass of lemonade on your patio, your morning orange juice, or the spritz of citrus linen spray on your millet pillow is doing more for your health and wellness than you may realize! Citrus fruits are fragrant and delicious and provide a number of health benefits.
Citrus is a family of fruit trees that include orange, lime, lemon, grapefruit, and citron. Grown on trees or shrubs, these fruits have thicker skins and juicy, pulpy flesh. Citrus fruits originated in Asia and were brought to Europe by explorers. In 1 B.C, lemons were eaten only by the elite upper class in Rome. By the 16th century, these fruits had made their way to the United States, and Christopher Columbus is accredited with bringing oranges to the U.S with his second expedition. Later, in the 18th and 19th centuries, delicious grapefruits arrived in North America.
Thankfully these are very accessible today. In some parts of the country, specifically Florida, an abundance of citrus fruits grow with ease. You can also walk into any supermarket and find an array of juices, fresh fruit, and citrus-enhanced food products.
Not only do citrus fruits taste amazing, but they contain a substantial amount of phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are natural chemicals or compounds found in legumes, grains, fruit, and vegetables. Although phytonutrients aren’t essential for our survival like minerals and vitamins, they do help prevent disease and can improve bodily function. There are over 25,000 phytonutrients found in food, with many of the most important ones found in citrus. Citrus fruits contain polyphenols, carotenoids, and flavonoids. These antioxidants are what give these fruits their bold citrus scents and colors, as well as their health benefits.
Citrus is notoriously high in vitamin C. By eating just one medium-sized orange, you will receive your daily recommended dose of vitamin C, which has plenty of health benefits! They are also an excellent source of essential minerals such as potassium, copper, magnesium, and phosphorous.
Here are a few reasons why adding more citrus to your life can work magic on your health and wellness.
Aids in weight loss
You will receive a significant amount of fiber when eating citrus fruit. For example, if you were to eat a cup of orange pieces, you would receive 4 grams of fiber, which is almost 1/3 of the daily recommended dose. A diet high in fiber improves digestive health and aids in weight loss.
Additionally, they citrus makes for a great low-calorie snack. You can receive a lot of nutrients for very few calories! For example, in a medium orange, there are 62 calories and in ½ a pink grapefruit, there are only 52 calories. In 2015, a study examined the eating habits and weight of a group of individuals over the span of 24 years. The researchers found that eating citrus fruits was linked to an increase in weight loss.
Reduces risk of kidney stones
One of citrus's magic abilities is it has the potential to lower your risk of kidney stones. Kidney stones are a common health problem that can cause a great deal of pain. They are hard, solid crystals that have built up in the kidneys that can potentially block the urinary tract. In 2014 a study found that people with lower amounts of citrate in their urine were more likely to develop stones. But, by eating citrus fruits, these citrate levels are increased, which can therefore reduce one’s risk.
Helps keep you hydrated
Grapefruits are 88% water, and oranges are 86% water. This high water content will help keep you hydrated throughout the day. Eating water-rich foods will simultaneously quench thirst and ensure you are getting enough fluids. As a bonus, they come with their own organic, compostable packaging so that you can put one in your bag to snack on later!
Prevents certain types of cancer
Citrus fruits may protect against cancer because of their high flavonoid content. Flavonoids act as antioxidants that can block the genes associated with cancer. Some studies have found that citrus fruits can protect against pancreatic, breast, stomach, and esophageal cancers. Another study found that those who drank one serving of grapefruit juice or ate one grapefruit a day reduced their risk of lung cancer. In addition to preventing cancer, citrus fruits can also help fight cancer. It does so by blocking the formation of new cancers and making carcinogens inactive.
Keeps your heart healthy
Citrus fruits can also help improve heart health. The pulp found in these fruits and juices contains soluble fiber and flavonoids that can lower harmful LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and raise healthy HDL cholesterol. They are also rich in potassium and help reduce heart disease and stroke. A study conducted in Japan found that those who ate higher amounts of citrus fruits had lower rates of stroke and heart disease. Further, these fruits may lower blood pressure which is a risk factor for heart disease.
Lowers risk of some cognitive diseases
In addition to keeping your heart healthy, citrus fruits can protect your brain. For example, a specific flavonoid in citrus fruits called quercetin can fight the inflammation that triggers cognitive diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. There are also several studies that show that citrus juices can improve brain function.
Maintains blood sugar levels
Citrus fruits are low on the glycemic index, which means you won’t experience a spike in blood sugar like many other sweet foods. When you eat orange slices, for example, the glucose will be released slowly into your bloodstream, which gives you more stable energy levels and prevents you from crashing later.
Increase absorption of iron
Vitamin C helps your body to absorb iron. So if you are low in iron or have difficulty with absorption, pairing it with vitamin C can increase absorption by up to six times!
Boosts immune system
The vitamin C found in citrus is excellent for your immune system! In addition, research has found that a healthy dose of vitamin C can reduce the severity and duration of a cold, shortening your cold by a day!
Helps your body process salt
Although bananas get all the praise for their high potassium levels, citrus fruits are also an excellent source of the mineral. Potassium plays a vital role in regulating the amount of salt in your body and helps flush excess.
Improves the appearance of your skin
A diet high in vitamin C will do wonders for your skin. The vitamins help with collagen production, making skin look more smooth and supple. This is because ascorbic acid regenerates the collagen that is needed for skin elasticity. In 2007 a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that individuals who ate plenty of foods rich in vitamin C were less likely to have dry skin and wrinkles. The increased hydration received by eating these fruits also contributes to healthy, glowing skin.
The magic of citrus isn’t only obtained by ingesting citrus. The smell of citrus and citrus oil also provides several wellness benefits…
Reduce anxiety and depression
The scent of citrus can improve your mood! A mouse study found that mice who inhaled lemon oil vapor had a decrease in stress symptoms. You can use a citrus linen spray on your pillow, Tencel bed sheets, or curtains to enjoy the fresh and fragrant aroma that can reduce negative feelings.
Eases morning sickness
Research had found that when pregnant women inhaled citrus oil, their morning sickness was reduced. As a result, they had less intense and frequent vomiting.
Speed up healing
Citrus oil naturally contains antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. When it is diluted with water and applied to the skin, it can keep it clean and increase healing time. One study of rabbits with mange found that those that were treated with lemon oil improved faster. Although it can be helpful for your skin, it’s important to note that it does cause photosensitivity. If you apply citrus oil to your skin and go out in the sun, you are more likely to become red and irritated. Because of this, you should always dilute the oil if you will be putting it on your skin and should not go out in the sun.
There are plenty of ways you can add more citrus to your life! Citrus is a gift for your senses with its bright colors, fresh scent, and delicious taste. For physical benefits, eat fresh citrus fruits like oranges or grapefruits. You can also juice them or make tea. Remember that to receive the benefits listed here, it is best to stick with raw, whole fruits and be careful of artificial flavors. Finally, add some citrus products to your home, like citrus hand soap, citrus linen spray, or a diffuser with citrus oil to improve the way you feel and look.
With benefits like this, it is surprising the saying isn’t “an orange a day keeps the doctor away.” Citrus fruits are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that have been found to reduce the risk of some diseases and make us feel and look our best!