Citrus fruits come in several varieties – and provide a wide array of nutritional benefits. The family of citrus fruits includes clementines, oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit and pomelos. Well-known for being an excellent source of vitamin C, these brightly flavored, colorful citrus fruits are abundant in other nutrients that may play a role in reducing the risk of many chronic conditions.
Clementines are part of the mandarin subgroup of oranges. This fruit, which is also known as a tangerine, is seedless and smaller than a typical orange. Clementines are packed with vitamins A and C, fiber and flavonoids, compounds contained in some plants that provide health benefits. Flavonoids provide anti-inflammatory benefits. They’re also antioxidants – molecules that fight free radicals in your body that are linked to chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Lemons contain vitamin C, fiber, folate, potassium and flavonoids. A typical lemon has 17 calories. Research suggests lemon juice helps boost the bio-accessibility of carotenoids – that is, may help your body absorb more nutrients from foods like broccoli and carrots. The study, published in 2018 in the International Journal of Nutrition and Food Engineering, found that incorporating olive oil and lemon juice into mashed carrots increased the bio-accessibility of the vegetable. Some people eat lemons as is, though because they’re sour and acidic, that’s not the usual form of consumption, says Lisa Jones, a registered dietitian based in Philadelphia. Others add them to soups and salads, or drop a slice of lemon into a glass of water or other favorite beverage for flavor and nutrition.
A typical lime has nearly 2 grams of fiber and provides 32% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C. “Since a squeeze of lime has virtually no calories, it’s a great addition to any food or beverage,” Jones says. Both sour and tart, limes are used in a variety of ways. For example, limes are used to make key lime pies, key lime grilled shrimp and vinaigrettes. Limes are often used as ingredients in tropical beverages and cocktails. They also go well with vegetables and Mexican-inspired dishes, and the juice can enliven fruit salads.
Limes contain naturally occurring plant chemicals that give the fruit its flavor and color. These potential benefits include:
- Stimulating the immune system.
- Blocking substances we eat, drink or breathe from becoming carcinogens.
- Reducing inflammation.
- Preventing DNA damage.
- Boosting DNA repair.
- Slowing the growth rate of cancer cells.
- Reducing oxidative damage to cells that can spark cancer.
Everyone knows oranges have lots of vitamin C. A single medium-size orange provides about 100 milligrams of vitamin C. (The recommended daily amount for adults is 65 to 90 milligrams.) Oranges are also loaded with an array of other nutrients, including thiamine, folate and riboflavin, and they have healthy amounts of fiber.
Together with the flavonoids contained in oranges, vitamin C provides anti-inflammatory benefits that may help boost the immune system, Ilic says. One medium-size orange has about 179 milligrams of potassium, which helps with regulating blood pressure and boosting heart health.
So, enjoy these healthy and citrus fruits whenever you can.