For centuries the sailors were getting ill on their voyages. Mysterious sickness would exhaust them, they would get spots on their skin which was becoming pale, and after a while, it would take their life. That was the case until the middle of the 17th century when they started to get citrus fruits like lemon or lime juice with their food and the illness known as scurvy was beaten. What those sailors lacked was vitamin C, and citrus fruit has vitamin C in abundance.
A ship physician Richard Woodal was the first person who successfully cured scurvy with lemons. Scientists claim that citrus is the best health keeper during the winter days when the body’s immune system is under pressure from common cold viruses and flu.
Humans started to cultivate citrus fruits about 4000 years ago due to its sour-sweet pulp that’s very refreshing. All citrus originate from Asia and with time it moved to the Middle East and the Mediterranean. There are three original citrus genes that have been the source of all today citrus fruits, those three are mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata), citron (Citrus medica), and pomelo (Citrus maxima). Their crossing created many popular citruses like oranges, grapefruit, lemon, or kumquat. Most of the citrus we eat today are older hybrids, while red oranges and clementines are dated to more modern times.
Nutrients in citrus fruits are mostly the same with slight variations in some species. But they all have one thing in common, intense smell due to flavonoids and lemonoids which are actually terpenes and present to protect the fruits from unwanted consumers. They are made of a large amount of citric acid and vitamin C. In 100g (3.6oz) of orange or lemon, there is almost 50g of Vitamin C, while grapefruit has about 40g.
Citrus tasty pulp is usually made up of 5 to 12 parts going from light yellow to red color. It’s covered by a white spongy envelope made up of pectin fibers which many people together with the crust just peel off, which is a mistake since that white spongy part is full of flavonoids and phyto substances that are good for the body. But in today’s commercial production and use of chemicals, citrus crust absorbs many of the chemicals and thus making it healthier to just peel it off.
Even though vitamin C will not stop us from getting the cold or flu, it can shorten the duration of it and keep your immune system in good shape against viruses during stressful times. One of the best abilities of vitamin C is that it can help the body to absorb iron many times more efficiently. Vegetarians and vegans are especially sensitive to anemia and women during their menstruation periods. But during the pregnancy citrus fruit can be very helpful also due to its richness with folic acid which is very important in the fetus development.
There are high concentrations of potassium in grapefruit and orange which is good for maintaining normal blood pressure, same as hesperidin, a flavonoid from the orange and lemon pulp and crust. Citrus fruits also contain rutin and quercetin flavonoids and strong antioxidants together with vitamin C are very important for the health of blood vessels.
Nutrients in citrus fruits are also vital for everyday body functions. Folic acid has an important role in DNA replication, which is a prerequisite for cell repair of every organ, and in synergy, with other phytochemicals, it helps in body recuperation. One more important ingredient of citrus fruits is fibers. Even though the body can’t absorb them, they are essential in regulating the digestive tract and keeping it working well.
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