Health Benefits of Citrus

Written by: Beth Blessing

Citrus plants are small evergreen trees or shrubs, which originated in China and Southeast Asia.  Today, these fruits grow throughout the world, wherever there’s ample moisture and little or no frost.  The United States and Brazil produce most of the world’s oranges.

Citrus fruit has three major layers starting with the outside layer or peel.  The peel has a distinctive and strong aroma and is rich in gel-making pectin.  When rolling or flexing a citrus peel, the oil glands will burst and send a visible, aromatic oil to the surface.  The next layer is the thick, white, spongy layer called the albedo or white pulp.  This layer is loaded with phytochemicals that enhance the nutritive value of the fruit.  Finally, the inside contains many segments of elongated bags called vesicles that are filled with water and dissolved substances such as vitamin C.

Citrus fruit have been associated with many beneficial nutrients, especially vitamin C (an important antioxidant).  It also contains the phytochemical limonoids, which is found in the seeds, pulp, and juice of all citrus.   Research is finding that limonoids may lower cholesterol. When exposed to limonoids, human liver cells in petri dishes produced less of a compound associated with higher cholesterol levels.  Citrus limonoids have also been shown to help fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon.

Limonene is another compound found in the rind.  When citrus fruits are juiced, the oil is pressed out of the rind.  Studies have shown that limonene has anti-cancer effects and increases the levels of liver enzymes involved in detoxifying carcinogens.

Try these recipes to incorporate the beautiful citrus from our store into your meals:

Kale and Cara Cara Orange Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette

Five Minute Beets

Beet and Orange Salad

Stir-Fried Broccoli with Orange Sauce