Why You Should Be Eating More Citrus

Every time I head to my former home in San Diego where my family still lives, I pillage our citrus trees in the side yard. There is a sweet, Charlie-Brown-type lemon tree and two pathetic orange trees sporting 50 times more leaves than fruit.  I don’t hold it against them though—they are old trees. Like the Giving Tree we have become good friends especially since the citrus is thin-skinned, juicy, and very sweet. I’ll usually squeeze 4 or 5, add a grapefruit, and shake with ice for a fresh-squeezed morning drink. If the juice is too harsh, I might water it down for a smoother feel, though I do like the pulp. Don’t forget the fresh Mimosa’s too!

Apart from the lusciously decadent taste, I’m satisfied knowing I’m filling my veins with cancer-fighting, cold-battling Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps with the absorption of Iron, which is an easily depleted element in women. It also helps hold muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons together. Additionally, citrus is a good source of potassium, which helps regulate your heart health and is a key mechanism in nerve transmission.

Citrus fruits include oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, tangerines, and pomelos (a mild grapefruit-type native to Asia).  Depending on your preference of eating or squeezing the fruits, different varieties can provide more or less juice with a thicker or thinner rind. My personal favorite lemon variety is Meyers, found at most health-oriented grocery stores. A squeeze of lemon into a glass of water with a shake of organic Stevia powder makes refreshing lemonade.

In terms of buying citrus, the best place to go is your local farmers market. You’ll find great deals with fresh, plump fruit. Commercial fruit is typically picked week(s) before and the natural fructose quickly turns to starch, denying your body the promised nutrients.  In chemistry, sugary properties are given an “–ose” endings, i.e. sucrose is white table sugar, sucralose is Splenda, fructose is fruit sugar, etc. Those fruit sugars are healthy and an important, natural part of a balanced diet. Not only are you lessening the carbon footprint by buying locally, you’re also supporting the pollination of other flowers, thereby stimulating the quickly depleting bee population (a very BAD thing!). Local farmers are rewarded by your purchases for growing organically, and you gain more control over the quality of the food you buy.

While consuming citrus is very healthy for your skin, digestive track (especially lemons), and nails, it can also be used in a myriad of other ways. Safe household cleaners can be made from the citrus’ oil, pots and pans can be scrubbed with lemons and salt, a peel can freshen up the garbage disposal or used for potpourri. They can be used to freshen breath and clean teeth too–although too much acid can break down enamel.

One of the only downers in consuming citrus is the non-composting attribute. The peels are slow to break down and very acidic, making them useless and even detrimental in compost. Other than that, indulge in a crate of oranges here and there to see how “fruitful” your mood becomes!