Consuming citrus fruits and other natural food sources of vitamins, mineral and nutrients enhances good health and resistance to infection.
Citrus fruits include the commonly recognized orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime and more exotic choices like kumquat, satsuma and ugli. These fruits are low in calories, contain no fats or sodium and have the highest concentration of vitamin C in comparison to other fruits and vegetables. Incorporating five or more servings of fruit in your diet prevents heart disease, boosts the immune system and controls a healthy weight.
Essential Vitamins for Energy, Vision and Wound Healing
The amount of vitamin A range from zero in lemons and limes, to trace amounts in oranges, clementines and tangerines with the moderate concentration in cara cara, grapefruit and kumquat. Vitamin A is essential for healthy teeth, skin and bones. It promotes good vision, particularly in low light settings. Citrus fruits are a limited source of the water-soluble B vitamins. Thiamine, niacin and riboflavin have a role in digestion and the conversion of food to energy. Clementines supply ten percent of the daily value for thiamine and niacin. Other citrus fruits supply lesser amounts of these B vitamins.
Citrus fruits are a good source of folic acid, which is very important in the replication of new healthy cells. The clementine, cara cara, orange and pummelo have the highest concentration of vitamin C. Vitamin C has antioxidant properties and is essential for healthy skin, bones and connective tissue. It has an important role in wound healing and in the synthesis of collagen, which is a protein in scar tissue, skin, ligaments , tendons and blood vessels. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron and a deficiency can lead to anemia.
Minerals for a Healthy Heart, Muscles and Digestion
The body needs potassium to maintain proper functioning of the heart, kidneys, muscles, nerves and digestive systems. By eating a healthy diet, most people get all the potassium that is needed. However, taking diuretics, diarrhea, vomiting, excessive sweating, malabsorption syndromes such as Crohn’s disease and malnutrition can lead to a potassium deficiency. Citrus fruits, particularly clementine, cara cara and oranges, are rich sources of potassium. Calcium is an essential mineral for healthy bones and teeth. Only one percent of the body’s calcium supply is needed for to maintain normal function of muscles, blood vessels, secretion of hormones and enzymes and transmission of impulses through the nervous system. One serving of a citrus fruit such as an orange, grapefruit or clementine provides four to six percent of the daily value for calcium.
Fiber for Digestive and Cardiac Health
Citrus fruits are a source of dietary fiber. One serving of most citrus fruits has two grams of fiber. A serving of clementine has five grams of fiber, which is 20 percent of the recommended daily value. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. A high-fiber diet normalizes bowel function, reduces the risk for developing hemorrhoids and diverticular disease, lowers blood cholesterol levels and helps control blood sugar levels. The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine recommends that men who are 50 years old and younger should have 38 grams of fiber each day and women of the same age group should have 25 grams daily. Beyond the age of 51, men should have 31 grams while women should aim for 21 grams of fiber each day.