By Danielle Pastula
When you think of the health benefits of citrus, your first thought is probably drinking a big glass of Florida orange juice to help combat colds and boost your immune system.
After all, that is orange juice’s biggest marketing claim to fame, but there are plenty of other benefits, some long-term, that come from orange juice as well as other citrus varieties like grapefruit, tangelos and tangerines.
What are some of the other perks you’ll get by squeezing more citrus into your diet?
If you’re looking to add more fiber to your diet, citrus fruits are a great go-to with an average of 3–4 grams of fiber per piece of fruit, with 60–70 percent of that fiber being soluble fiber.
Some benefits of soluble fiber include lowering cholesterol and preventing spikes in blood sugar. The insoluble fiber helps with normalizing and maintaining bowel health and regularity, and all of these benefits combined help with achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
From the ruby red flesh of a grapefruit to the bright orange peel of a tangerine, the warm colors of your favorite citrus come from the presence of flavonoids.
Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that have been shown to have a wealth of antiinflammatory and immune system benefits that help prevent and counteract a variety of diseases including cardiovascular disease and autoimmune diseases.
Also, according to research reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, having a diet that consists of a higher intake of fruits and vegetables consisting of vitamin C is associated with reduced stroke risk due to the presence of flavonoids.
In the study, researchers found that women who ate higher amounts of citrus had a 19 percent lower risk of blood clotrelated stroke than women who consumed the least amounts.
3. Vitamin C
Despite being the most well-known health benefit of citrus, what you may not know is that vitamin C does a lot more for the body than just boosting the immune system.
According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin C helps the body make collagen, which is needed for the body to generate skin, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels as well as repair and maintain cartilage, bones and teeth.
Vitamin C also helps with lowering the body’s blood pressure as well as the production of neurotransmitters, like norepinephrine, which is critical for proper brain function.
Fresh from Florida
One of the other biggest perks of citrus? Some of the freshest varieties are grown right in our own backyard! Here are a few of Florida’s most popular varieties.
Florida only has a few grapefruit varieties, including White, Flame and Ruby Red, but they’ve all got a bright flavor with plenty of juice, making them good for eating or juicing.
In season: Although available year-round, the best grapefruit is picked between November and June.
Florida’s tangerine varieties include Fallglo, Dancy, Honey, Robinson and Sunburst. All these varieties are good for eating with flavors that range from mild and sweet (Fallglo and Honey) to rich and deep (Dancy, Robinson and Sunburst).
In season: Technically tangerines are in season from October through April, but November through January is when you’ll get the juiciest and sweetest tangerines.
A tangerine-grapefruit hybrid, Florida’s tangelo varieties include the Orlando and Minneola. For people who typically don’t care for the sometimes bitter taste of grapefruit, tangelos are a mildly sweet and juicy alternative.
In season: Tangelos are in season from November to February with Orlando tangelos being the best from November to January and Minneolas being the ripest from late December to early February.
Ambersweet, Hamlin, Navel, Red Navel, Temple, Valencia and Pineapple Oranges have features to suit every taste. Hamlin and Valencia are great for juicing, Temple oranges are often regarded as the best for eating, and Ambersweet and Red Navels have some of the highest fiber content.
In season: With all the orange varieties out there, there’s pretty much always an orange that’s in season, that is, except for during the summertime. June through August is the one time of year oranges aren’t considered “in season.”