Citrus: For Health and Pleasure
If you have never expressed an orange peel (or any other citrus peel), we encourage you to try it the next time you get your hands on a citrus fruit. Express the citrus oils over tea, a glass of ice water, ice cream, or simply into the air. The bright, aromatic oils released are like pure sunshine to the nose.
Citrus fruits have been used to add character to both food and beverage since ancient times, and have historically been sought after for their medicinal properties—used to combat sickness, intestinal ailments, skin conditions, gout, scurvy, an antidote to poison, and as an antiseptic during times of plague.
Not all these uses of citrus hold up today, but modern science has come to know much more about what makes citrus so nutritious. This week’s Acme curated meal boxes feature a variety of citrus fruits: orange, grapefruit, and blood orange. We wanted you to know some of the health benefits you will get from these citrus fruits in addition to the flavor they bring to this week’s recipes.
Vitamin C has many benefits. We need vitamin C to maintain healthy skin, bones, blood vessels and connective tissues, and it strengthens our immune system. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant that might help protect your cells against the effects of free radicals and fight inflammation. By reducing inflammation, vitamin C may prevent or delay heart disease conditions like arthritis and some types of cancer.
Ever heard of a flavonoid? Flavonoids are plant-based nutrients that create the bright color and the familiar aroma of citrus. Citrus fruits are an important source of dietary flavonoids!
Studies indicate citrus flavonoids protect cells against the damage of free radicals. Through a direct scavenging of free radicals, citrus flavonoids can reduce inflammation. Consequently, those anti-inflammatory pathways provide therapeutic benefits against cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes.
Citrus flavonoids can also protect against diabetes by improving glucose tolerance, increasing insulin secretion and sensitivity, and decreasing insulin resistance and also may play a significant role in the development of antiobesity agents, reducing obesity and adipose tissue inflammation.
Also importantly, citrus flavonoids have the ability to modulate gut bacteria (microbiome) composition and activity and exert beneficial effects on intestinal barrier function and gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation.
When you think about fiber, perhaps you first think of grains and rice. But citrus fruits are high in dietary fiber as well! Citrus fruits contain both types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber—both of which are important!
Soluble fiber can help lower LDL cholesterol, reducing cardiovascular disease. This type of fiber can also help improve glucose control by slowing the absorption of sugar resulting in better blood sugar levels. Insoluble fiber can help relieve constipation by helping food move more efficiently through the digestive system and increases stool bulk.
If you are looking to get more fiber in your diet, we recommend not adding too much fiber too quickly, as this can promote intestinal gas, abdominal bloating, and cramping. Increase fiber in your diet bit by bit over a few weeks to allow the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adjust. Also drink plenty of water along with your fiber, as fiber works best when it absorbs water.
Even More Benefits
Among other benefits, citrus fruits also have a low glycemic index (meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar as much as some other foods) and are high in potassium, and other essential nutrients such as folate, calcium, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, riboflavin and pantothenic acid.
It is important to know that some citrus fruits—such as grapefruit, pomelo, and orange fruits— can interact with medications. If you are taking medications, please consult with your healthcare provider before adding those fruits to your diet.
We hope you enjoy this week’s citrus recipes and that the bright and tangy citrus flavors of this week’s recipes bring some warmth to your winter.
Your Acme Team
“The Powerful Health Benefits of Citrus Fruits” - University of Washington
“7 Reasons to Eat More Citrus Fruits” - Healthline
“9 Surprising Health Benefits of Citrus Fruit” - Health