The citrus family of fruits is a genus of plants and trees in the flower family of Rutaceae. Citrus fruits are the largest traded horticultural commodity in the world.
Citrus fruits are very potent healthy food sources, portable, and are delicious. In addition, they provide essential vitamins like C and B6, carbohydrates, fibres, potassium, calcium, and much more.
A common myth exists that these fruits are simply rich in Vitamin C, but citrus fruits have much more to offer than just that. They present countless health benefits in major and minor ways. They are also a great way to incorporate healthy eating into your diet.
Originating far away in South Asia and Australia, citrus fruits are now grown all over. So much so that the annual production of just oranges is about 70 million tonnes! We all see orange citrus fruits during the winter, especially in the months when most of us have a cold or the flu.
Some of the most famous members of this family are oranges, tangerines, pomelos, grapefruits, lemons, and limes. Large quantities of these fruits are grown around the globe. Not only for being fruity and juicy but also for their matchless health value. They are high in flavonoids that inhibit cancer growth. They also contain phytochemicals and various vitamins.
So if you’re looking to move on from the myths behind citrus fruits and get a quick and easy way to become healthier, this article will give you ten reasons to make that change.
The Citrus Fruits Family
Different kinds of citrus fruits find their origins in a myriad of regions. So there is no particular location. Since the seeds of these fruits don’t have restricted growth conditions, they can grow all over. Therefore, they lack an established history of cultivation and commercial sale. One can trace their origins in particular countries, but their benefits caught wind. Before anyone knew it, they became common in marketplaces around the globe.
The citrus family is extensive, but studies usually divide them into six subgroups to comprehend data better. Those six subgroups are :
- Sweet oranges
- Bitter oranges
- Other varieties like kumquats, yuzu, citron, pomelo, and Buddha’s hand
Oranges (Sweet & Bitter)
With roots in the Indian subcontinent, the orange is the king of citrus fruits and has seen commercial agriculture for centuries. Oranges are excellent sources of vitamin C and have fibre and beta-cryptoxanthin. They eliminate waste from the body and aids blood circulation.
Following are the nutritional values of a 100g serving of oranges:
- Calories: 51
- Water: 86%
- Carbs: 13 g
- Dietary Fiber: 3 g
- Natural Sugar: 9 g
Originally cultivated in Iran and Egypt, lemons find their uses in all households. A staple to make a dish that is a little bit zestier, they have always held their charm as a tasty but healthy addition to food. Like oranges, lemons are rich in vitamin C. What’s unique about them is that they contain antioxidants and have a long shelf-life!
These are the nutritional values of a 100g serving of Lemons :
- Calories: 29
- Water: 89%
- Protein: 1.1 g
- Carbs: 9.3 g
- Sugar: 2.5 g
- Fibre: 2.8 g
- Fat: 0.3 g
They’re the fundamental brother of lemons. Limes have suffered being confused for being others many times. Tracing their birth in Southeast Asia, Limes contain more sugar and citric acid than lemons and have been used as a dressing for food long since. They reduce inflammation and speed up recovery.
These are the nutritional values of a 100g serving of Lemons :
- Calories: 30
- Water: ~80%
- Fat: 0.2 g
- Carbs: 10.5 g
- Sugar: 1.6 g
- Fibre: 2.8 g
- Protein: 0.7
Originated in the early 17th century somewhere near Barbados, grapefruits are arguably among the more beautiful and healthiest citrus fruits to eat. Grapefruits are unique because they have special flavonoids which help prevent diabetes and protect your liver.
These are the nutritional values of a 100g serving of Grapefruits :
- Calories: 42
- Water: 88%
- Fat: 0.1 g
- Carbs: 10.6 g
- Fibre: 1.6 g
- Sugar: 6 g
- Protein: ~ 1
Citrus fruits are good for you, taste great, and are easy to carry and consume. We just listed the countless health benefits it has, both mental and physical.
Health Benefits of Citrus Fruits
1. Major Health Benefits
- Citrus Fruits have Anti-Carcinogenic properties, which is one of their best advantages.
- In essence, citrus fruits play a big part in preventing cancer cell activity and inhibiting tumour growth.
- Some citrus fruits like oranges and limes have Cardiovascular and Hyperglycemic elements, which means they aid the flow of blood, prevent clumping/clotting and help digestion.
- Citrus flavonoids have shown anti-inflammatory and Analgesic activity. They help reduce physical pain and boost recovery.
2. Mental Health
Many people don’t believe it, but studies suggest citrus fruits help alleviate mental health issues in more than one way. For example, most citrus fruits contain a crystalline element called Apigenin. Apigenin has antidepressant qualities. Some flavonoids present in citrus fruits even exhibit antiallergic and anti-anxiety properties.
Moreover, citrus polyphenols can prevent and reverse neuro-degeneration by protecting neural cells from inflammation, crucial in mental disorders. Research suggests Citrus bioactive compounds improve general cognition.
So citrus fruits help people suffering from signs of early-onset depression or anxiety. Moreover, citrus fruits boost their mental and physical health simultaneously.
Citrus fruits are excellent for boosting metabolism. They do so in many different ways through different chemicals and elements. For example, they contain Vitamins B3, B6, and B9, which balance the body fluids, keep haemoglobin and check and strengthen the metabolic process in the body.
But that’s not it. Essential minerals like calcium, manganese, and zinc are also present in citrus fruits. They aid metabolism and strengthen teeth and bones. Furthermore, these minerals also boost blood circulation in the body.
4. Nervous and Circulatory System
Citrus fruits contain essential acids like ascorbic acid, thiamine, and vitamins like B, B2, and B3. They help relax the blood vessels and aid oxidation. As a result, oxygen-rich blood passes throughout the body. Essentially, this means all your organs will respond well to the blood they receive. Thus, they are less likely to decay from either a lack of blood or receiving carbon-rich blood. Moreover, minerals like phosphorus and selenium present in citrus fruits aid DNA production and energy distribution.
In congruence with the gains mentioned above to Mental Health, these elements help calm the nerves. A study revealed they reduce reflex time and increase motor functions in humans. So the major transport systems of your body, the ones instrumental in keeping you alive, are even more successful when supplied with Citrus Fruits!
5. Muscles and Bones
It is common knowledge among experts that citrus fruits expedite the healing process after a good workout, resulting in stronger muscles. But many people don’t know that rigorous training and exercise isn’t mandatory for extracting the best out of what these fruits have to provide for your muscles.
They help in forming connective tissues, repairing internal damage to organs, and the vitamins help the body respond well to all kinds of injuries. For example, calcium and Sodium enhance the structure and rigidity of the body’s skeletal system. Magnesium helps muscle contraction and relaxation during body movement. The zinc also helps relax sore muscles.
6. A Balanced Diet
Ironically enough, getting, peeling, and eating citrus fruits is an excellent pass of time. In addition, it helps balance out any other cravings you might have had the night before. Your hand-eye coordination improves too. When the body receives nutrients and food in a timely and balanced manner, it responds well to the respective food. If you want your body to help you, you’ll have to help your body first!
At the beginning of the article, we talked about citrus fruits containing flavonoids and phytochemicals. After an intrinsic and careful study of citrus fruits and their antioxidant properties, there were no doubts about their efficacy. However, there are several other benefits that these citrus fruits have to offer.
Copper and selenium found in citrus fruits are essential traces for physical wellbeing. Independent studies have shown citrus fruits to reduce high blood pressure and lower bad cholesterol (LDL). Citrus Fruits, like most fruits, have very high water content. Consumption naturally delivers water to the body, which also helps in staying hydrated.
So overall, we learn that citrus fruits have many benefits for your body, be it physical or mental. Therefore, it virtually eliminates any myth about eating citrus fruits. It also gives you more reasons to try out what you’ve been missing out on for so long!
Citrus Fruits: Recipes
We understand eating the same fruits again and again daily just because it’s healthy can be a little boring. So here are a few recipes to spice up that Citrus-y experience of yours!
#1 Charred Kale With Citrus and Green Tahini
Preparation Time: 20 mins
- Rice vinegar (seasoned): ¼ cup
- Homemade Tahini: ¼ cup
- Small garlic clove: 1
- Extra-Virgin olive oil: 2 tbsp
- Cilantro- ½ cup
- Kosher salt- 1 tsp
- Kale: 2 bunches, without ribs and stems
- Oranges: 2
- Shallots: ⅓ cup
- Sesame Seeds: 2 tbsp
- Blend vinegar, tahini, garlic, olive oil and water until smooth.
- Add cilantro and purée until bright green—season dressing with salt.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet over medium flames.
- Add half of the kale and cook for about a minute until bright green. Keep tossing the kale until it is visibly charred in and partially wilted, about a minute longer.
- Transfer to a medium bowl. Sprinkle the first half of your dressing over the kale and toss and shake properly to combine.
- Season with salt.
- Use a paring knife to remove peels from citrus. Do not remove too much flesh.
- If you have your leftovers remaining, make sure to add them as a dressing for the salad.
#2 Citrus Raita with Spiced Oil
Cooking Time: 20 mins
- Greek Yoghurt: 2 cups
- Orange zest: 1 ½ cups, finely grated
- Lemon zest: 1 ½ cups, finely grated
- Fresh Orange juice: 2 tbsp
- Fresh lemon juice: 2 tbsp
- Ginger: 1 cup, finely grated, peeled
- Jaggery Powder: 1 tbsp
- Kosher salt
- Extra-virgin olive oil: 1 tbsp
- Coriander seeds: 1 tbsp, crushed
- Ground turmeric: ½ tsp
- Kashmiri chilli powder: ½ tsp
- Use your whisker or any other tool to whisk the greek yoghurt, lemon zest, lime juice in a small bowl.
- Then, add the orange zest and orange lime quickly and make the mixture uniform.
- Heat oil in a medium-sized skillet or saucepan.
- Add the coriander seeds and cook properly until it gives a good fragrance and looks colourful. This process should only take about another minute.
- Then, add your turmeric and your chilly powder.
- After adding everything, cook uniformly, shaking the pan and tossing the insides until they look popping and smell fragrant.
- Pour over the raita as a dressing.
#3 Crispy Kale Salad (With Coconut and Ginger)
Cooking Time- 20 mins
- Tuscan kale: 4 bunches, ribs and stems removed
- Vegetable oil: 2 cups
- Kosher salt
- Fresh lemon juice: ⅓ cup
- Soy sauce or tamari: 3 tbsp
- Tahini: 3 tbsp
- Honey: 2 tsp
- Sesame oil: 2 tsp, toasted
- Ginger: 2 tsp. finely grated peeled
- Garlic: 1 cup, grated
- Shallot: 1, thinly sliced
- Thai chilli: 1, thinly sliced
- Coconut: 1 ½ cups
- Grapefruits: 2, medium-sized
- Cilantro: ¾ cup
- Preheat the oven to 190° Celsius.
- Use two baking sheets and set aside half of the kale on each baking sheet.
- Now, sprinkle a tablespoon of vegetable oil on both the baking sheets, then season with salt.
- Then, spread both baking sheets out in a single layer and bake until visibly light brown and crispy. This process should take about 8–10 minutes. Set kale chips aside.
- Use a dry and medium-sized pan to toast your coconut over a medium-high flame, in the process tossing once or twice until most flakes are golden brown. It will take another 5 minutes.
- Transfer to a small bowl.
- Use a paring knife to remove the peel. Be careful not to remove the flesh.
- Use the remaining kale and tear it up finely. Use it as a dressing later on. Season lightly with salt.
- Add grapefruit, coconut, cilantro, and reserved kale chips and gently toss.
As with all things, one should consume citrus fruits in moderation. However, even the best things have downsides, and citrus fruits are no exceptions. Eating more than the recommended amount of citrus fruits and juices increases the chance of developing cavities. This oral issue is because of the acid in citrus fruits. It acts as an eroding agent and erodes the enamel of your teeth.
Too much citric acid has serious side effects. These include numbness, swelling or rapid weight gain, cramps, faster heart rate, mood swings, stomach pain, or seizure, but these are only the most severe cases.
Either way, everything you intake should be balanced and healthy.
Proper Intake of Citric Acid
If you consume up to 5 servings of citrus fruits a day, the total intake of vitamin C would be around 200mg. However, this isn’t lethal or dangerous, but it’s better not to exceed this limit and stay under it. More than five servings also result in too much fibre intake, which may cause issues in excretion. Therefore, take 2-3 servings daily at most.
The daily limit for juice intake is around 7-8 ounces (~240mL). Juices made from fresh citrus fruits usually contain about 0.2 g/oz of citric acid. Excess of citric acid can have serious problems.
Research suggests the maximum daily dose to be around 10mL diluted. Anything more will show side effects.
Now that we’re aware of how much value citrus fruits can provide for your body and mind, making the switch will never be more effortless. It’s time to leave behind those age-old myths and get some citrus in your life!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
If you still feel confused or need answers to some questions, here are our most frequently asked questions about citrus fruits.
Q. What are all the fruits in the citrus family?
A. There are many fruits in the citrus family. However, they are divided into subgroups. These subgroups are sweet oranges, bitter oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, and other varieties, including kumquats, yuzu, and citron.
Q. Is an apple a citrus fruit?
A. No, Apple is not a citrus fruit. Other fruits that do not belong to the citrus family include pears, watermelon, and raspberries.
Q. Is pineapple a citrus fruit?
A. Even though they seem to have a lot in common, like vitamin C, pineapple is not a citrus fruit. Therefore, they are not related to one another.
Q. Does papaya have citrus?
A. Papaya does contain small amounts of citric acid, but it does not belong to the genus of citrus fruits. It is a low-acid fruit with 0.1% of citric acid.
Q. Is strawberry a citrus fruit?
A. No, strawberries are not citrus fruits. In comparison to citrus fruits, they grow in northern latitudes and do not have a thick, fleshy rind.
Q. What do citrus fruits do for your body?
A. A lot! They increase metabolism, help muscles, bones, digestion, brain, heart, and physical and mental wellbeing.
Q. Which is the healthiest citrus fruit?
A. There is no healthiest citrus fruit per se, but research suggests Grapefruits are one of the healthier ones. It is because they are rich in vitamin C, potassium, and fibre.
Q. Is it bad to eat citrus fruits every day?
A. No! As long as you take them in moderation. Add citrus fruits to your meals and have a balanced diet. Consuming citrus fruits daily is very good for you and has countless health benefits!
Q. Is citrus good for your skin?
A. Yes, Indeed! Citrus fruit extracts are advertised in skincare products repeatedly because of their antioxidant properties. In addition, they clear out your skin and give it a natural glow!
Q. How many citrus fruits should I eat?
A. Depending on a person’s desired intake, using such fruits as a source of Vitamin C requires only one or two servings per day. Therefore, this meets the daily recommended allowance.
Q. What happens when you eat a lot of citrus fruits?
A. Citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit, are acidic. As a result, they can irritate the stomach lining, causing digestive problems, and in some cases cause internal damage. But for the most part, citrus fruits don’t do any irreparable damage.