What you need to know:
- A healthy, balanced diet is key to looking after the body and maintaining good health. Everyone knows they should be eating more fruit and veg, but citrus fruits in particular have essential benefits.
Citrus fruits are good antioxidants and provide a number of health benefits, from boosting immunity to fighting cancer. Eating higher amounts of Flavanones, a compound found in citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit may lower stroke risk for women.
Amanda Tumwebaze, a freelance nutritionist, describes citrus fruits as happy fruits and are known to strengthen your immune system. This is because they are good remedies for preventing colds and recurrent ear infections.
Oranges can boost the immune system and improve your skin, they improve heart health by controlling sugar and cholesterol levels. Oranges may additionally help reduce the risk of respiratory diseases such as flu, certain cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcers and kidney stones.
Tumwebaze says, “Daily intake of oranges can prevent cancers such as lung, skin and breast, colon cancer. The vitamin C and antioxidants present are both important in building the body’s immunity. The fibrous nature of the fruit also makes it cancer protective.”
Prevents skin damage
Fausta Akech, a nutritionist at Healthy U, says the anti-oxidant elements in citrus fruits help protect skin from free radical damage which is known to cause signs of aging. Eating an orange daily will actually help your skin look younger. Citrus fruits are also anti-inflammatory and contain antioxidants such as flavonoids, carotenoids and oils that are essential for your skin and the entire body immunity.
“The vitamin C in citrus fruits protects the skin from damage caused by the sun. It is vital to collagen production and may help reduce wrinkles and improve the skin’s overall texture,” says Akech.
Blood pressure and sugar
Oranges, being rich in Vitamins B6 which help in the production of haemoglobin and also help keep blood pressure under check due to the presence of magnesium.
“The sugar in oranges, fructose, can help keep blood sugar levels from rising too high after eating, says Akech. However, it is not good to eat many oranges at once because they can spike insulin and may even lead to weight gain.”
Tumwebaze says citrus fruits contain more soluble fibre which helps in proper digestion. “Normal digestion requires a steady supply of water, and oranges have a lot of it.
Fresh-squeezed orange juice can increase the acidity within your stomach and promote better digestion, but it should be consumed prior to eating and not combined with food.
“Be careful however, if you suffer from heartburn to avoid orange juice because it may worsen it. This is because there is already too much acid production by the stomach and any further intake of acids can cause an inflammation of the stomach lining or a stomach ulcer,” she says.
Good eye health
Citrus fruits are a rich source of Vitamin C which boosts the functioning of our eyes. It also prevents inflammation and helps in healing inflammatory conditions of the eye. The vitamin also helps reduce the risk of cataracts to a great extent.
Fausta Akech, a nutritionist at Healthy U, says: “Oranges are a rich source of carotenoid from Vitamin A which plays an important role in keeping the mucus membranes in the eyes healthy. Vitamin A is also responsible preventing age-related macular degeneration, which in extreme cases can lead to blindness for elderly people,” she remarks.