January 15, 2013

Citrus fruits perk up winter season

Citrus fruits are known to be part of a healthy diet, especially since they have a high vitamin C content. 

As nutritional science progresses, we are learning that it is not just the vitamins that are important, but a complex combination of factors within healthy foods that benefit our bodies. Citrus fruits have many phytochemicals, which help protect against many chronic diseases. In addition, fresh citrus is a good source of fiber that is low in calories. 

Luckily, fresh citrus fruits — such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes — are available to us year-round. During the winter months, many varieties are in season and will taste even better and cost less. During these cold months, you may also find that your supermarket carries a wider variety, giving you the chance to taste types that you may not normally have access to. In the grocery store, judge citrus fruit by weight; the heaver the fruit, the juicier it will be. 

Oranges, tangerines and grapefruit have distinct tastes, and the fresher they are, the more delicious. Citrus fruits picked from an orchard or farmstand in the South taste wonderful. I was surprised to get some dull, brown grapefruit from a friend a few years ago after hearing her rave about the fruit’s sweetness. Sure enough, once I cut through the skin, it was the best grapefruit I had ever eaten. 

It’s important to remember that canned fruit and 100-percent juice count toward fruit servings. Any fruit is better than no fruit, but fresh citrus is a really great option. Consider swapping a glass of orange juice for an orange for the following nutritional benefits:

▶ An 8-ounce glass of orange juice contains 112 calories, 26 grams of carbohydrates, zero grams of fiber and contains 207 percent of the daily value of vitamin C.

▶ One cup of orange sections contains 85 calories, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber and contains 160 percent of the daily value of vitamin C.

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