1. Cover all your vitamin C needs
One orange or grapefruit provides almost twice the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin C. This vitamin plays a major role in the formation of collagen, which maintains the strength and flexibility of bones, tendons, ligaments, skin and blood vessels, and promotes wound healing and tissue repair.
It has also been found to reduce the severity of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and asthma, and may reduce the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.
2. Put the brakes on ageing
Citrus fruits contain among the highest antioxidant activity of any fruit. And the anti-ageing benefits of antioxidants are legion: they help maintain brain function, boost immunity, protect against cancer and heart disease and strengthen bones and joints.
Recent studies have shown that the mix of antioxidants found in citrus fruit can protect against osteoporosis by slowing down and reducing bone loss. Blood oranges, in particular, contain anthocyanins, the antioxidant also found in blueberries.
3. Give cancer the brush-off
Many of the phytonutrients found in citrus fruit – including coumarins, polyphenols and limonoids – support the immune system and play a role in determining whether a cancer will grow and spread. A CSIRO study on the benefits of citrus fruit found that consuming them can reduce the risk of mouth, larynx and stomach cancers by up to 50 per cent(!).
This study came on the heels of an earlier report by the World Cancer Research Fund, which found that citrus consumption can provide protection against stomach cancer as well as oral and oesophagael cancer. Pink and red grapefruit have the added anti-cancer benefit of lycopene, a carotenoid with anti-tumour qualities that has also been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men.
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4. Lower your cholesterol and fight bowel disease
The soluble dietary fibre content of citrus fruit can help reduce the risk of colon cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and stroke but, as Collins emphasies, you need to include the pulp and the pith for the full fibre hit.
Oranges contain the most fibre, followed by grapefruit, lemons and mandarins. The pectin found in citrus fruit can also slow the progression of atherosclerosis and reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. An Israeli study found that red grapefruit contains more antioxidant properties than white grapefruit, and can lower LDL – or “bad” – cholesterol within 30 days.
READ MORE: Eat Oranges Before Boarding A Plane! Find Out Why And The 10 Foods You Should Eat Before Flying
5. Protect your DNA
One orange has close to 20 per cent of your RDI of folate, a vitamin that promotes new cell production and growth, aids in the production of DNA and healthy red blood cells, and prevents neural tube defects in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Folate may also reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer.
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6. Maintain your blood pressure
The potassium in citrus fruit keeps your body’s water and acid in balance, a vital component of normal blood pressure regulation. Potassium also works as an electrolyte to play a role in nerve impulse transmission and muscle growth and contraction.
7. Boost your energy
Skip the power bars and sweet treats. As a source of simple carbohydrates fructose, glucose and sucrose, an orange will not only curb your mid-morning or -afternoon craving for a quick sugar fix, it will help you to feel more alert and rev up your energy too.
Oranges and other citrus fruits also have a low-glycaemic index, meaning that eating one won’t cause a surge in blood sugar levels – making them an excellent choice for those with type 2 diabetes.
8. Feed your brain
Snacking on citrus will help improve cognitive function. Clinical evidence suggests that certain citrus compounds, including ascorbic acid, flavonoids and folic acid, have a long-term beneficial effect on the brain.
These vitamins and phytochemicals can actually penetrate the blood-brain barrier, giving them a capacity to modulate some neurotransmitter activities and protect brain cells. Developing a lifelong habit of including citrus fruit in your diet can limit or even prevent the slow development of brain damage related to ageing or disease.
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9. Cleanse your system
The citric acid in lemons and limes seems to have certain extra-special health qualities that other citrus fruits can’t claim. Fresh lemon or lime juice mixed with hot water tackles a number of tummy-related ailments, from acid indigestion to stomach ache.
This traditional tonic is also celebrated as a natural detoxifier, liver stimulant and bowel cleanser and regulator. Sipped first thing in the morning, before food, it will kickstart your metabolism and alkalise your whole system to restore balance to your body’s pH as well as relieve the symptoms of bladder and urinary tract infections and cystitis.
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