‘Tis the Season to Celebrate Citrus Fruits

While an apple a day may keep the doctor away, citrus fruits have long been known as a tasty and nutritious part of a daily diet. Citrus fruits are a rich source of vitamin, minerals and fiber and they also contain phytochemicals which have been shown to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases.

Citrus – oranges, Clementines, lemons, limes and tangerines, to name a few – are prized for their Vitamin C but they also offer an impressive list of other essential nutrients including:  potassium, foliate, calcium, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, and riboflavin. Additionally, this easy-to-eat fruit contains no fat or sodium and, being a plant food, no cholesterol.

We’re lucky here in Arizona that now is peak season for citrus, especially the Clementine (part of the mandarin family but typically seedless), tangerines, grapefruit and lemons. Did you know that Arizona and California produce 95% of all citrus fruit grown across the United States?

Interesting citrus facts:

  • Oranges have been cultivated for thousands of years and is believed to have their origin in South and indo-China. It’s said that clergyman Pierre Clement crossed a mandarin and an orange and this pairing gave life to the popular Clementine – a seedless mandarin with a looser, easier-to-peel skin.
  • Lemons originated in North India or Burma and limes are native to Malaysia
  • Lemons and limes are the most detoxifying fruits. If you want to cleanse your body (internally) you can squeeze lemons or limes into your orange juice or drink it in a glass of water.
  • In Malaysia it’s believed that the juice of a lime will scare away evil spirits
  • Lemon trees can bloom and produce fruit all year and each tree can produce a whopping 500 to 600 pounds of lemons annually! That’s about 1,000 to 2,000 individual fruits per tree.
  • Have a sore throat? Reach for a lemon and add equal amount lemon juice to hot water for an anti bacterial gargle
  • Because of their high vitamin C, lemons prevent scurvy – a disease that causes bleeding gums, loose teeth and aching joints. Even today, the British Navy mandates that every ship carry enough lemons so that every sailor can have one ounce of juice per day.
  • Because of their scurvy-preventing properties, the demand for lemons hit a peak during the California Gold Rush of 1849. Miners were willing to pay huge sums for a single lemon and because of this trees were planted in abundance throughout California
  • Fashionable ladies in the European Renaissance used lemon juice as a way to redden their lips.
  • Citrus fruits and their juices add great, fresh flavor to many recipes in addition to being great squeeze and served with a bit of ice and sugar. Here is a recipe that we really love from Fill Your Plate: Citrus Marinated Grilled Turkey.

Have a favorite citrus recipe?  Post it here!

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