Here in New Zealand, we are entering into the cooler months of late autumn and winter. With this brings us a bounty of seasonal produce to enjoy. Some of my favourite seasonal fruits are citrus. The health benefits of citrus are plentiful. A rich source of anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals, why wouldn’t you want to enjoy these tasty, colourful fruits! This post is written from my experience as a qualified naturopath based in New Zealand.
Citrus fruits are generally seasonal here in New Zealand throughout winter. Some crops like mandarins may be early producers, but some varieties are late season.
This is great because you can extend the harvest throughout all of winter to ensure a constant supply of delicious fruit!
Another brilliant thing about growing citrus is how well they store. The best way to store lemons is to actually keep them on the tree, and pick each one as you need it! They won’t dry up until much later on, but if you picked them all at once they may spoil much faster.
If you are keen to give growing citrus a go, try small dwarf varieties. They can be grown in big pots like half wine barrels. In my home garden I have 4 dwarf citrus trees; mandarin, lemon, lime and orange.
Although they are still young plants, they are starting to fruit well already!
Health Benefits of Citrus
There are so many different types of citrus available to us.
I’m sure I’m missing a few more! Each citrus fruit will have a different array of nutrients. However, there are many overlapping health benefits of citrus that I will now outline.
Grapefruits are said to be an excellent source of pectin. Pectin is commonly known as the thickening agent found naturally in fruits, that is used in setting jams and jellies.
However, when consumed as a whole food like in grapefruit, pectin offers many health benefits. There is some research to show that consuming grapefruit (containing pectin) offers cholesterol lowering properties.
Although if you aren’t a fan of grapefruit then many other fruits also contain pectin!
Please note: You must also be careful to not consume grapefruit if your medication is contraindicated. Grapefruit contains a flavonoid called naringin that reduces liver enzyme activity. So if you’re taking medication and eating grapefruit, it can lead to toxic build up.
Flavonoids are naturally occurring compounds found in plant foods that provide a range of health benefits. Typically, flavonoids are responsible for the bright, cheerful colours in rainbow fruits and vegetables. Another bonus is that brightly coloured foods are powerhouses of nutrition.
Flavonoids are a type of anti-oxidant which are important for fighting inflammation and disease in the body. Many preventable and chronic diseases in society today can be remedied through an anti-inflammatory diet. An anti-inflammatory diet is one based on whole plant foods, rich in colourful fruits and vegetables.
Citrus like limes and lemons contain phytochemicals and flavonoids, which are high in anti-oxidants, along with anti cancer properties.
The most obvious vitamin citrus is known for is vitamin C! All citrus fruits have appreciable levels of vitamin C. I believe this is of the most important nutrients on the planet.
Vitamin C is another powerful anti-oxidant. It is essential for wound repair and collagen production. It also helps to scavenge free radicals which would otherwise lead to inflammation throughout the body. Vitamin C has been shown to boost immunity. It also protects against environmental pollutions.
There’s no excuse! Get your daily dose of vitamin C by having an orange or mandarin for your morning snack today. There are plenty of other plant foods that contain vitamin C so shop around for your favourite choice.
I love to look at foods from a holistic view. For me, a holistic views looks at the energetics of food and how this affects the body. For example, citrus are bright, vibrant and full of flavour. This to me relates to the sacral and solar plexus chakras.
These chakras are considered to be orange and yellow in colour. The sacral chakra governs our creative energy centre, our passions and our emotions. To me, consuming zesty, flavourful and juicy citrus feels invigorating and encourages the flow of energy. I feel that citrus fruits vibrate at a level which is associated with fun, joy and creativity.
The solar plexus chakra relates to our ability to move forward in life and taking inspired action on our ideas. It also gives us confidence and healthy self-esteem. With this yellow coloured chakra, I feel that it certainly relates to the digestive organs too and their ability to assimilate nutrients. Citrus is filled with vitamin C helps us absorb nutrients, and fibre helps us have healthy digestion and elimination.
If you are interested in learning more about the connection with foods and the chakras, let me know in the comments below and I will write more on this topic!
Ways To Enjoy The Health Benefits of Citrus
There are endless ways to enjoy the health benefits of citrus!
- Fresh squeezed orange juice. Delicious! Try juice oranges with cucumber, ginger and kale for a slightly sweet green juice.
- Fruit salad. Add mandarin pieces with mango, pineapple and berries. Serve with yogurt and a handful of nuts.
- As a snack any time of day; orange, grapefruit or mandarin.
- I enjoy using lemons in my cooking. I always add the juice right at the end before serving. It gives acidity and lifts the whole dish.
- Limes are great with spicy food like Mexican beans and rice. I always make guacamole with fresh lime juice. Limes are one of my most favourite fragrances!
Health Benefits of Citrus Summary
So far we have covered a few of the health benefits of citrus. I’ve shared my tips for growing your own citrus and how to enjoy citrus in your favourite savoury or sweet dishes. Finally, we also addressed the health benefits of citrus with their array of nutrients!
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and feel inspired to try out a few of these delicious fruits in your week ahead.
If you are interested in receiving a natural health consultation from me, visit my bookings page and my consultations page to learn more.
All the best for you in journey to health and wellness