Functional Citrus Food

Functional citrus fruits help fight common diseases.

We all know that fruit is good for us. Citrus fruits have many healthy properties.

But if citrus fruits are so healthy, why do we discard the best bits?

A food study published in Preventative Medicine journal investigates the health benefits of functional citrus food[1]. The study also consider other diseases. It summarizes benefits, and potential benefits, from citrus fruits, for:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Diabetes
  • Nutrition and wellness

Though much of the report deals with animal research, there is ample evidence of human benefits from various citrus fruits:

citrus fruit extracts represent an excellent candidate for nutraceuticals and functional foods geared towards the management of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Don’t Waste Functional Citrus Food

This food study reveals an important message: many of the health benefits of citrus fruits are lost because nutrients are concentrated in the peel that is usually discarded.
Healthy Citrus Infographic

The total polyphenols in the peels of lemons, oranges and grapefruits are significantly higher than in the peeled fruits

Functional Citrus Food Benefits

Functional food describes properties, irrespective of taste, that provide health benefits. I have extracted the main benefits from this functional citrus food study, together with food sources. Some facts are also drawn from cited references.

The study highlights 3 important nutrients that have shown health improvements:

Nutrient Source Benefits
PolyMethoxylated Flavones (PMFs) Nobiletin and Tangeretin Orange peel and tangerine peel Reduces hypertriglyceridemia and has anti-diabetic effects.
Naringenin Citrus fruits and tomato skin & paste (citrus are not the only fruit) Corrects problems linked to insulin resistance. Promising therapy for metabolic syndrome.
Hesperidin & Naringin Hesperidin is abundant in lemon, lime, mandarin and sweet orange. Naringin is mainly present in grapefruits and sour oranges Improves hyperlipidemia and hyperglycemia

Functional Citrus Food Conclusions

The conclusions from this scientific research are:

  • Whole citrus fruit extracts may yield compounds that can fight diseases
  • New drinks might provide preventative benefits against many diseases
  • Selective breeding can promote more nutritious varieties

But outside the labs, what can we do? Obvious actions are to increase citrus consumption, and also develop recipes that use whole fruits, not just pulp and juice.

Please share your views about functional citrus food on the Feedback Form below.

Leave Functional Citrus Food to read Foods for Disease and Wellbeing.

Functional Citrus Food Comments

Foodary visitor responses include:

Functional Properties of Citrus Fruits

Becky asked “I found this page after searching for ‘functional properties of citrus fruits’. Thanks – it’s very useful. I’m wondering what ‘functional food’ means.

Functional Food

I’ve asked Becky for more about how she uses this information. But here’s my response about functional food:

Since writing “Functional food describes properties, irrespective of taste, that provide health benefits”, I’ve looked deeper into the meaning of functional food. Unfortunately, definitions vary between countries. In the States I’ve seen that the FD has responsibility for functional food labeling. But there’s no legal definition of functional food.

To avoid further confusion, I will try to avoid the term in future. In any case, I focus on foods identified as being beneficial to specific illnesses. So I currently feel that the term is irrelevant for Foodary. But I’m happy to review this if you think functional foods are important.

This study looks at foods good for diabetes. Incidentally, that includes good foods for cancer and other diseases. So I will continue to describe foods and nutrients with respect to the health conditions they are liked with.

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Functional Citrus Food References

  1. Aruoma, Okezie I., Bernie Landes, Deena Ramful-Baboolall, Emmanuel Bourdon, Vidushi Neergheen-Bhujun, Karl-Heinz Wagner, and Theeshan Bahorun. “Functional benefits of citrus fruits in the management of diabetes.” Preventive Medicine 54 (2012): S12-S16. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2012.02.012



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