healthy eating for healthy aging

‘Tis the season for citrus

‘Tis the season for citrus

In the Northern Hemisphere, winter and citrus fruits go hand in hand. I know, you can buy oranges all year long, but they’re so much better in season. It’s a happy coincidence because citrus fruit is a stellar source of vitamin C, critical for immune function.

I’ve eaten an orange every day since early December. So far they’ve been delicious and high quality. But messy. Peeling and eating an orange isn’t something I’d do while wearing nice clothes. Its Orange Break time: peel, eat, wash hands, go back to whatever I was doing.

Citrus fruits are all nutritionally wonderful: vitamin C, potassium, B vitamins particularly folate, fiber, various anti-oxidants. Flavors range from seriously tart (lemons and limes) to mild and sweet (many types of oranges). Even better, they’re juicy and refreshing and filling. After the daily Orange Break, I’m not hungry or craving sweets, or much of anything.

Grapefruit is great, too

Grapefruit is also wonderfully nutritious and possibly less messy, thanks to grapefruit spoons. Just cut one in half and dig in. As a friend once said, grapefruit comes with its own bowl — the rind. Handy. Some people don’t care for it because grapefruit is less sweet. For other people, that’s the point.

What if grapefruit is not appealing? Try one of the many varieties of tangerines, from Cuties/mandarins to Sumo. Added benefit: they’re much easier to peel and so less messy.

Speaking of juice

Fruit juice has gotten a very bad rap for many years. It’s supposedly responsible for obesity. Let’s think about that. Back in the mid-20th century, when there was no obesity epidemic, orange juice was a breakfast staple. It was 100% juice, not sweetened, typically in a 4 oz glass. Does anyone even own a 4 oz glass anymore?

Juice “drinks” are now the norm. They may be less than 10% actual juice, the rest being colored and flavored sugar water, served in 24 oz bottles. May some added vitamin C, maybe. No potassium, folate, or anti-oxidants. I’m absolutely not a fan of this stuff. It’s not much better than soda pop.

100% orange or grapefruit juice might be a handier way to consume citrus, except for the lower fiber content. I just prefer the fresh flavor of a real orange, even if it’s messy.