There are few single food groups with as much to recommend them, and as many health benefits, as citrus fruits. Citrus fruits are packed full of a number of important vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber. In addition, citrus fruits are delicious, abundant, and usually quiet inexpensive.
Citrus fruits abound in most modern grocery stores, even in the winter months. Thanks to modern distribution networks, citrus fruits grown around the world are easily accessible in the supermarkets of this country.
Of course many people prefer locally grown citrus fruits, but when they are not available, shipped citrus is a good substitute. There is a growing season for each kind of citrus in various parts of the country, so it pays to familiarize yourself with those seasons in order to take advantage of the freshest locally grown tomatoes, oranges, grapefruits and more.
Citrus fruits are perfect for anytime of day, from a grapefruit in the morning to an orange at lunchtime to a dinner salad piled high with locally grown tomatoes.
Citrus fruits contain so many important vitamins and minerals that it would be impossible to list them all. Citrus fruits are a good example of why fresh fruits and vegetables are a better source of complete nutrition than vitamin supplements. While some of the important vitamins and nutrients contained in citrus fruits have been identified and synthesized, others, particularly the many trace minerals, have not. There is simply no pharmacological substitute for healthy eating.
Vitamin C is probably the most important, and the most well known, nutrient provided by citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits. Vitamin C has been widely studied, and it is thought to play an important role in keeping us healthy.
Vitamin C plays a vital role in keeping skin and gums healthy, and in protecting the cells of the body from damage by free radicals. And since vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, it is important to eat foods high in vitamin C every day. Vitamin C is not stored in the body like fat soluble vitamins are, and any vitamin C not used each day is excreted.
Fortunately, it is easy to get the vitamin C you need each day from citrus fruits. For instance, a single orange contains over 150% percent of the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of vitamin C.
Many people do not realize, that in addition to vitamin C, oranges, grapefruits and other citrus fruits also contain significant amounts of fiber. Fiber plays an important role in digestion, and it is thought to have protective qualities against heart disease and some forms of cancer. In addition, fiber is thought to have the ability to lower high levels of cholesterol in the blood.
Perhaps the most important benefit of citrus fruits is the presence of folic acid. This important vitamin is known to prevent many neural cord birth defects such as spina bifida when consumed early in a pregnancy, and for this reason folic acid has been added to everything from bread to cereal. It is best, however for women and men alike to get this important nutrient from the foods they eat, and citrus fruits are rich in folic acid.
Potassium is another important benefit of citrus fruits. When many people think of potassium, they think of bananas, but bananas are not the only fruit that contains significant levels of potassium. Many citrus fruits also contain plenty of potassium.
Potassium levels are very important to good health, since potassium plays a role in maintaining proper levels of bodily fluids, and it also affects the absorption of other nutrients. The stresses of modern life, including consumption of caffeine and alcohol, stress and dehydration, can all play havoc with potassium levels, so it is important to eat foods rich in potassium every day.
With all these advantages, it is easy to see why citrus fruits are so popular. Even people who do not normally eat fruits and vegetables often have a hard time saying no to a great glass of orange juice or a nice juicy grapefruit.