Most of us have studied about citrus in our basic sciences and associate it with Vitamin C and when asked about foods that contains it, we give a prompt reply- orange, but very few of us actually know about citrus and what benefits we can reap by just including a little bit of it in our daily menu. Not as popular as the basic proteins and carbs in our nutrition list, a small dose of citrus gives multifold benefits, but the basic question arises what exactly citrus is?
CITRUS– It is a genus of flowering part of rue family. Rutaceae. It is believed to have been originated in South East Asia and is grown as citrus fruit in different parts of the world. There are about 13 naturally occurring species of citrus. Citrus fruit is cultivated on trees and majorly grown in Brazil, China, the United States, Mexico, India, Spain and Pakistan. The color of the fruit does not determine its ripeness and they do not ripen after being plucked. The best known sources of citrus include oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, tangerines and clementines.
BENEFITS– Citrus has many benefits not only culinary but also medicinal. These include-
- Citrus helps us to meet our daily need of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, phytochemicals, fiber, potassium, calcium, folic acid.
- Citrus is also a rich source of antioxidants .
- Lemon juice is used to relieve the pain caused by bee stings.
- Oranges help in treating scurvy .
- Oranges are also used by sailors while on a voyage .
- Pectin’s extract, found in citrus, is used in medicine such as Tylenol for the gelling effect and juices of citrus fruits can be used to prevent kidney stones.
- The peel of fruit can be used as a cleanser and animals use citrus as a protectant from insects, astringent and anti-fungal agent.
- Citrus provides us with anti-oxidants that prevents ageing.
- Citrus also helps us in increasing the immunity .
- Folic acid is recommended for pregnant women as it prevents many ailments .
- Protein found in citrus is a component of hair, skin and nails and contains collagen. It helps in regulating hormones and also helps in efficient transfer of oxygen throughout the body.
- Phytochemicals help in protecting heart and fight breast, skin and colon cancers.
- Vitamin c also has multifold benefits including better absorption of iron  that helps treating anemia and stress, as well as healing wounds and repairing tissues.
Citrus can be incorporated in variety of ways in our diet and the best part is they are easily available across the world but the main thing to be kept in mind is
- Always try to eat the fresh fruit as they would provide best nutrition than after processing which gives specific benefits.
- Also try to source your fruit from places where it is naturally grown in the season i.e. never buy it from markets in places where it is not grown during the season.
Some ways to make your citrus diet interesting are–
1. You can easily incorporate them in your breakfast in raw form like pineapple, oranges or as juices of oranges and grapefruits. They can even be made as smoothies which are very much loved by children.
2. Lemonade is used in summers as refreshment which instantly rejuvenates and helps in maintenance of body salts as well as prevents dehydration.
3. Lemons and limes are used as garnishes on dishes, cocktails, water and soft drinks. The rind is used in variety of mixed drinks.
4. The outer peel can be used as flavoring agent as well as the juice of lemon is used to provide a distinct tangy taste in salads.
5. Used as a flavoring agent, different parts of the fruit give different flavors like the rind is generally bitter, the fruit pulp depending upon the ripening can be sweet, tangy or sour. This enables its different uses for flavoring.
6. Marmalade, quintessentially a grandmother’s recipe is made with oranges and lemons where its bitterness is counteracted by adding sweeteners but nonetheless it acts as a great substitute for the processed jams.
7. The zest of the fruit can also be used with coffees and teas as a condiment and for flavoring.
Citrus is a natural boon for us to combat with variety of lifestyle diseases. So go on and add a bit of citrus to your menu paving way to a great health.
Do you have any Citrus Stories to tell us ? Drop them here in the comments 🙂
References:  Iness Jabri karoui and Brahim Marzouk. Characterization of Bioactive Compounds in Tunisian Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium L.) Peel and Juice and Determination of Their Antioxidant Activities. PMCID: PMC3697287.  Weinstein M, Babyn P, Zlotkin S. An orange a day keeps the doctor away: scurvy in the year 2000. PubMed PMID: 11533373.  Baron JH. Sailors' scurvy before and after James Lind--a reassessment. PMID: 19519673.  Komori T, Fujiwara R, Tanida M, Nomura J, Yokoyama MM. Effects of citrus fragrance on immune function and depressive states. Neuroimmunomodulation. PubMed PMID: 8646568.  Theresa O Scholl, William G Johnson. Folic acid: influence on the outcome of pregnancy 1,2,3,4. Am J Clin Nutr May 2000 vol. 71 no. 5 1295s-1303s.  James D. Cook, Elaine R. Monsen. Vitamin C, the common cold, and iron absorption. Am J Clin Nutr February 1977 vol. 30 no. 2 235-241.