Plump, aromatic and packed with plenty of tartness, citrus fruits—oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit—can add a little “sunshine” to any day. Citrus’s tangy juice brightens other flavors in recipes, and the strength of citrus isn’t limited to the culinary realm. For instance, just one medium orange delivers more than 100 percent of your daily dose of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant and nutrient important for a healthy immune system. Here are five good reasons to stock up on citrus fruits.
1. Citrus may help calm a cold.
According to research, loading up on citrus and vitamin C won’t prevent colds, but high doses of C (400 to 500 mg daily) may shorten the duration and lessen the symptoms. While it’s not a guaranteed fix, including extra citrus in your diet when you have a cold certainly won’t hurt, and the extra citrus may also help you get plenty of fluids as you recover (see number 4 below).
2. Oranges, limes, and lemons can boost flavor without the salt.
Both citrus and salt enhance flavors, so skipping (or limiting) the salt and adding a spritz of citrus juice instead can help keep dishes lower in sodium. A squeeze of citrus can bring out other flavors, too. Add lemon to a soup or sauce at the end of cooking and you won’t detect the citrus, but the taste will be brighter and fresher. Or, if you’re looking for an intense citrus flavor, use citrus zest. The outer skin of citrus is full of volatile aromatic oils that contain floral, spicy and bitter notes. Try adding orange zest to vinaigrette dressings, roasted vegetables or meat marinades.
3. Including citrus in your diet may lower the risk of some diseases.
Researchers are studying how a high intake of fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits, may lower the risk of heart disease and some cancers. One theory about why citrus fruits in particular may be beneficial centers on hesperidin, a type of flavonoid, and limonoids, a special class of antioxidants in most citrus, which may help guard against colon, lung, breast, skin and stomach cancer. More research is needed, but for now, including citrus fruits in a food plan high in fruits and vegetables is a healthy overall choice.
4. Citrus can help you stay hydrated.
Naturally packed with water, citrus fruits can help you stay hydrated, especially in hot summer months. For many, the taste of citrus can make plain or sparkling water more appealing. Consider bumping up your intake of citrus fruits during summer months, and try adding sliced lemons, limes or oranges to a pitcher of water that you keep in the fridge.
5. Lemon and limes can keep fruits and vegetables fresh-looking.
The ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in citrus juice works as a short-term preservative. Squeeze lemon or lime juice on cut avocados, apples, bananas, artichokes or pears to keep them from turning brown (oxidizing).
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