Citrus fruits include oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits, in addition to tangerines and pomelos. Not only are the citrus fruits in this diverse group delicious and refreshing, they earn their definition of an all-star food for their richness in compounds called flavonoids, which have anticancer properties. Citrus fruit flavonoids have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and prevent the spread of tumors.
Citrus flavonoids are also antioxidants that can neutralize free radicals and may protect against heart disease. Studies show that citrus flavonoids may improve blood flow through coronary arteries, reduce the ability of arteries to form blood clots and prevent the oxidation of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, which is an initial step in the formation of artery plaques.
Citrus fruits are also high in vitamin C, and are good sources of folate and potassium. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and protects the body from damaging free radicals. It is also required for the synthesis of collagen, which helps wounds heal and helps hold blood vessels, tendons, ligaments and bone together. Potassium is a mineral and electrolyte that is essential for the function of nerves, heart contraction, and some enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism.