Piling your plate with cheerful citrus fruits will bring a load of color and a heap of nutrition to even the grayest winter day. Plus, if adopting healthier habits is on your to-do list for 2024, adding more citrus is one of the easiest, most affordable ways to accomplish your goal.
“A new year means new opportunities to incorporate healthy lifestyle changes to your diet,” says Yin Cao, ScD, MPH, Professor of Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “Bold and flavorful, citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits offer the perfect combination of sweet and tangy flavors to almost any dish. More importantly, these enthusiastic fruits are the perfect source of vitamin C, a vital vitamin necessary to promote healthy brain function, support your immune system and fight free radicals that often cause cold-like symptoms.”
Free radicals come from both food and environmental factors, and their effects can be detrimental to cell health. Vitamin C is a critical antioxidant that sweeps these free radicals away. Because most of us are spending more time indoors than out in the wintertime, it’s especially important to keep foods that are high in vitamin C at the forefront. Sunlight is scarce during these short days, and vitamin C can help brighten and hydrate your skin.
Citrus fruits are high in fiber, so eating them will keep your body full longer, which can quiet the urge to munch on unhealthy snacks throughout the day. Plus, Cao notes, their relatively low glycemic scores help regulate blood sugar, which brings steady energy without a crash later on.
“Incorporating citrus fruits into your day can be easy and fun for the whole family,” Cao says. “Try squeezing your own grapefruit juice for a morning wake-up. Add a zest of lemon and lime to your next meat and vegetable marinade for a refreshing flavor. In a hurry? Clementines make for a perfect on-the-go snack but taste especially delicious when paired in a lemon dressing salad.”