When the winter days grow long and dreary, sometimes you crave some sunshine. You can’t control the weather, but you can do the next best thing: Enjoy some bright, sunny citrus fruit, like oranges, lemon juice, lime juice, and grapefruit. Not only do these delicious fruits put some pep in your step, but they also carry lots of health and beauty benefits. Read on to see how citrus fruits can bring some health and happiness into your winter.
Squeezing fresh lemon juice into a cup of water or iced tea may help ease joint pain. That’s because the plant acids that give these gems their tang are powerful natural anti-inflammatories, plus they speed the breakdown of a metabolic waste product (uric acid) that can make joints ache. Tip: You can also squeeze lemon into warm tea, but the hot water may break down the vitamin C.
When you’re feeling rattled, enjoying a lime-infused drink or meal or taking slow, deep sniffs of a freshly cut lime may induce calm. Credit limonene, the compound that gives these green gems their distinctive aroma. A study in the journal Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior found that breathing in even small doses of limonene helped calm the central nervous system of mice to quash tension and anxiety. Tip: A squirt of lime adds instant yum to grilled chicken and roast potato dishes.
Blood oranges get their reddish hue from anthocyanins — plant pigments (flavonoids) that may help prevent heart and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. In fact, Tufts University research suggests that consuming flavonoids daily, and over the long-term, is associated with a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s in adults.
Sweet, seedless tangerines contain hesperidin, a phytonutrient with a wide range of health benefits, including strengthening cardiovascular, cognitive, and vascular health. Hesperidin may also help keep sickness at bay: In a 2020 animal study,it boosted energy and immune response in rodents. For a sweet treat with a protective punch: Peel and section 4 tangerines, then set on a greased broiler pan and top of 2 tablespoons chopped almonds mixed in with 1 tablespoon brown sugar; broil 1 to 2 minutes. For a side, mix 1 cup kale, 2 peeled and sectioned tangerines, 1 ounce goat cheese, and half an avocado; add dressing.
Enjoying grapefruit can kick-start the healing of winter-weary skin and keep it looking smooth and radiant all season long. Credit goes to grapefruit’s abundance of flavonoids and vitamin C, nutrients researchers say boost collagen formation, encourage repair of damaged epidermal cells, increase moisture retention, and improve skin tone and elasticity. Keep in mind that grapefruits can interact with certain medications — consult your doctor before making it a regular part of your diet.
Adding a few tiny kumquats to meals and snacks may help you shed weight without dieting. Scientists reporting in the journal PLOS ONE state that, in an animal study, kumquat skin extract helped obese mice lose weight. Why? Kumquats are a great source of antioxidants that may have helped the mice block cholesterol absorption and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.