Citrus fruits are not only low in calories, but are rich sources of vitamins and minerals. Learn the nutritional benefits of citrus fruits.
Naturally low in calories and fat, citrus fruits make for a nutritious and healthy addition to any diet. Many people consider them only as an excellent source of vitamin C; however, the nutritional benefits of citrus fruits such as grapefruits, oranges, lemons, and limes include many other essential nutrients.
Vitamins in Citrus Fruits
The Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin C is 75 mg for adult women and 90 mg for adult men. Grapefruit and oranges both excellent sources of vitamin C. One grapefruit contains 77 mg vitamin C, while a medium orange provides 70 mg of vitamin C. Orange and grapefruit juices are also excellent sources of vitamin C, with one cup of orange juice containing 124 mg of vitamin C and one cup of grapefruit juice offering 94 mg. Both lemons and limes are rich in vitamin C as well, with one-quarter cup of lemon or lime juice providing 46.8% DV (Percent Daily Value) of vitamin C.
Oranges are also a good source of vitamins A and B1. Red and pink grapefruit are good sources of vitamins A and B5. A one-half serving of red or pink grapefruit contains 318 IU of vitamin A and provides 3.5% DV of vitamin B5.
Grapefruit and oranges are both a good source of folate. One orange contains 40 mcg of folate, while a one-half serving of grapefruit provides 15 mcg.
Minerals in Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits are also rich in certain health-boosting minerals. Oranges are a good source of potassium with one orange containing 237 mg. Oranges contain calcium too – with 52 mg per orange. Grapefruit is also a good source of potassium with one-half grapefruit containing 159 mg of potassium.
Maximize the Nutritional Benefits of Citrus Fruits
To maximize the nutritional benefits of citrus fruits, it’s best to eat them in fresh or frozen form or enjoy a glass of juice rather than using them in cooking and baking. Citrus fruits do not retain their nutrients well when subjected to heat 350 degrees Fahrenheit and above. Reap the benefits of citrus fruits by eating them as a snack, mixed in fruit salad or as an ingredient in a fruit smoothie. Use lemon or lime juice to prepare homemade salad dressings and as an ingredient in dips and sauces.
- Mateljan, George. The World’s Healthiest Foods Essential Guide for the Healthiest Way of Eating. Seattle: George Mateljan Foundation, 2007.
- Nutrition Data. (n.d.). “Oranges;” “Grapefruit.” Accessed December 24, 2010 from Nutritiondata.com.
- The George Mateljan Foundation. (n.d.). “Oranges;” “Grapefruit.” Accessed December 24, 2010 from WHFoods.com.