It's no secret that citrus fruits make a refreshing snack that's rich in vitamin C. But they have the potential for more: Although human tests are lacking, studies conducted in institutions worldwide have demonstrated possible links between citrus compounds and prevention of cancer, cardiovascular disease, bowel conditions, eye problems and some infectious diseases. More research is needed to demonstrate a conclusive link.
The orange is one of the most popular fruits in the world. The average orange contains more than 100 percent of your recommended daily value of vitamin C and adds a tangy, somewhat sweet taste. You can easily incorporate oranges in salads, stir-fries and baked goods. The orange contains more than 170 phytonutrients and more than 60 flavonoids.
Like oranges, grapefruit are very high in vitamin C. A single grapefruit has 100 percent or more of the recommended daily value, according to the University of Florida Extension. Grapefruit also contains potassium, vitamin A, folate, thiamin, niacin, calcium and magnesium; if you eat the entire fruit, it's also rich in fiber.
Grapefruit are also rich in lycopene. According to Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research, lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that has been linked to reduced risk and prevention of some cancers, although study results remain spare and further research is needed.
Also known as tangerines, mandarins are high in vitamins A, C and thiamin. According to the University of California cooperative extension they contain more than 100 percent of your daily requirement for vitamin C, and 18 percent of the vitamin A requirement. They're also rich in calcium and potassium and high in dietary fiber. Mandarins haven't been studied for their health benefits for as long as other citrus fruits, but the UC extension cites Japanese research that suggests eating mandarins may reduce the risk of liver disease, insulin resistance and atherosclerosis.
Because of their characteristic tart taste, lemons and limes are not typically eaten on their own. But like oranges they can be added to a variety of foods, including sweets, soups, salads and sauces or dressings. A fourth of lemon juice contains almost half your daily recommended intake of vitamin C. Also, lemons and limes both contain citrus compounds called limonoids. Although human studies are lacking, animal and laboratory tests have shown that limonoids may help fight several forms of cancer.
Other Citrus Fruits
Other citrus fruits, less common in the United States than those listed above, include the pummelo, sour orange and citron.