We sprinkle a little lemon juice over guacamole and apple slices to keep them from turning brown but have you ever wondered just how lemons work their magic? It’s the antioxidants. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that turns apples brown, causes rust to form on your car, and is also responsible for the hardening of your blood vessels – the first stage of heart disease. Antioxidants help prevent oxidation and they’re in all citrus, not just lemons. While vitamin C is the most well-known antioxidant in citrus fruits, there are more than sixty bioflavonoids that are also antioxidants.
Hesperidin is one of the most studied of these bioflavonoids. It has been studied for its potential role in preventing cardiovascular disease. In addition to its antioxidant activity, it’s also been found to interact with your genes to help improve cardiovascular health. So is eating an orange a better way to get your daily vitamin C than relying on your multivitamin? Definitely!
What does all of this mean for you?
- Eat citrus! The average American doesn’t get enough vitamin C in their diet and that probably means they could do with more bioflavonoids too. That’s embarrassing because 1 orange has all the vitamin C you need in a day. Come on America. We can do better. Tangerines and grapefruits also have a significant amount of vitamin C as well as those wonderful bioflavonoids.
- Juice can help. Citrus juices have just as much vitamin C, B vitamins, and potassium as the whole fruit (even from concentrate). They also have a significant amount of bioflavonoids. The only thing juice doesn’t have is fiber (even with the added pulp). Since most Americans don’t get enough fiber, eat the whole fruit where possible. When you do drink your vitamins and bioflavonoids, limit yourself to no more than 1 cup (8 oz) per day due to the sugar content.
- -ades don’t cut it. Lemonade, limade, orangeade…stay away! –ade is Latin for cheap drink flavored with sugar and lacking nutritional benefits. Or at least that’s what I remember it meaning… Regardless, one glass of lemonade has the same amount of sugar as orange juice but less than 10% of the vitamin C and is also proportionately lacking in bioflavonoids.
No excuses. Perfectly ripe California navel oranges are here, along with blood and cara cara oranges, tangerines, and clementines. They’ll stay deliciously sweet through April. Nutritious and delicious. What more could you ask for? Enjoy them before they’re all gone
Fun fact: Bioflavonoids contribute to the taste and appearance of citrus fruit. Variations in bioflavonoids are a big part of what make each fruit unique. Bioflavonoids are responsible for the dark color of blood oranges. Naringin is a bitter bioflavonoid primarily responsible for the unique flavor of grapefruit. The peel of citrus fruits is also a concentrated source of bitter bioflavonoids. Not all bioflavonoids are colored or bitter, however. Hesperidin has a neutral taste and appearance.