The Health Benefits Of Citrus Explained

Nothing beats a tangy grapefruit or juicy orange in the middle of winter. Not only do citrus fruits taste delicious, but they're also good for your health.

Citrus fruits are native to Australia, New Caledonia, and New Guinea, according to Healthline. They are now grown all over the world in tropical and sub-tropical climates. Citrus fruits include lemons, limes, grapefruits, and oranges, as well as lesser-known types like pomelos, tangelos, and citrons. Citrus typically grows on shrubs or flowering trees.

In 2016, 124 million tons of citrus were produced globally, with the top producers including China, Brazil, India, and the U.S. (via American Journal of Biomedical Science and Research). It is generally divided into categories: sweet oranges (like navel oranges), sour oranges (like bitter oranges), mandarins and tangerines, lemons, limes, and other kinds. Not only is the flesh consumed, but active compounds are extracted too, like flavonoids, carotenoids, and essential oils.

How citrus improves our health

No wonder the world consumes so much citrus — not only is it tasty, it has incredible health benefits. Citrus is a rich source of vitamin C, which helps to bolster the immune system, encouraging it to produce infection-fighting white blood cells (via Healthline). While vitamin C can't prevent colds, it may shorten their length and severity, per National Institutes of Health (NIH). Vitamin C is also necessary for the production of collagen, which helps wounds heal.

Citrus increases citrate levels in the urine, which studies have shown decreases a person's likelihood of developing kidney stones (via Healthline). It's also a great source of fiber — one cup of orange provides four grams of fiber, roughly 12% of the recommended daily amount. Fiber is helpful for improving digestive health, losing weight, and lowering cholesterol. Studies have even shown that the compounds in citrus may help protect or fight against cancer, particularly lung, esophageal, stomach, breast, and pancreatic cancers. Research also shows that citrus is good for heart health and brain health, and that it has a wealth of other vitamins like B vitamins, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, and copper.

If you've been craving a ripe juicy orange, here's your sign to head to the fridge.