As the season changes and the days start getting shorter and cooler, citrus is the perfect way to add some extra sunshine and warmth to your diet. Bright, colourful, filled with nutritious goodness, gorgeous zesty fragrance and packed full of powerful health benefits. Citrus fruits are rich in multiple nutrients such as vitamin C, flavonoids, and fibre for vascular protection, reduced inflammation, improved gastrointestinal function and health, and prevention for conditions like diabetes, cancer and neurological disease.
Citrus comes into season locally in Autumn and Winter, the perfect timing to give our bodies a hit of vitamin C and immune boosting goodness ahead of the cold and flu season. Isn’t eating seasonal amazing, nature serving us up exactly what we need at the perfect time!
The sweetness of citrus actually comes from cooler weather and frosty mornings.
Good Harvest citrus comes from the lovely Neil and Tanya Richards who run the Big Orange Café (yes there is a big Orange) at Gayndah. Neil and Tanya are committed to fully organic methods, however as they are not certified organic, you’ll find them listed as spray free in status. There are no fungicides, insecticides or wax dips used on any of the fruit (yes that happens regularly with fruit!).
The fruit is picked when ripe, so no artificial ripening rooms or long-term cold storage. Interestingly this natural process can lead to green tinges on the skin which isn’t indicative of the ripeness but a natural colour variation of the fruit.
What we love about Neil and Tanya’s farm is the way they make the most of natural processes, and also use innovative and integrative practices to support soil and tree health and fruit production. For example, instead of using toxic chemicals to control weeds and grasses, they grow pumpkins under the trees instead! They don’t spray for fruit fly but instead have hanging vinegar traps in the trees to help keep things under control.
During citrus season, Good Harvest make a weekly 6 hour round trip out to Neil and Tanya’s farm to ensure we get the freshest fruit, including mandarins (imperial and Ellendale), oranges (navel and valencia), grapefruit (pink and yellow), blood oranges, lemonade fruit, lemons and limes).
Let’s take a closer look at the stars of the show when it comes to nutrients in citrus;
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is one of the most popular vitamins across the world and one we are all familiar with. Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C and necessary to form and maintain healthy skin, bones, blood vessels and connective tissues. Vitamin C plays an vital role in supporting the immune system and also acts as an antioxidant that might help protect your cells against the effects of free radicals and assist in fighting inflammation.
Reducing inflammation may prevent or delay heart disease conditions like arthritis and some types of cancer. Vitamin C also helps the body to absorb iron from plant foods (the non-heme iron).
Flavonoids are plant-based nutrients (phytonutrients) responsible for the bright colour and the zesty aroma citrus is known for. Flavonoids have multiple therapeutic benefits with studies showing that citrus flavonoids can protect the cells against the damage of free radicals which can in turn have a big impact on reducing inflammation. Consequently, those anti-inflammatory pathways provide therapeutic benefits against cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and against diabetes.
Citrus flavonoids can protect against diabetes by improving glucose tolerance, increasing insulin secretion and sensitivity, and decreasing insulin resistance and also may play a significant role in the development of antiobesity agents, reducing obesity and adipose tissue inflammation.
Last but not least, citrus flavonoids have the ability to modulate gut bacteria (microbiome) composition and activity and exert beneficial effects on intestinal barrier function and gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation. This effect on GI microbiome suggests that intake of citrus flavonoids can contribute to improved GI functioning and health. With all the health promoting qualities mentioned above, we cannot ignore the beneficial effects of a well-known macronutrient, the Dietary Fiber.
Dietary Fiber is a type of complex carbohydrate made of many sugar molecules linked together in a way that cannot be entirely digested in the small intestine. Dietary fiber can be divided into two types: soluble and insoluble fiber, and citrus fruits contain some of each kind.
Soluble fiber can help lower LDL cholesterol, which has been shown to assist in reducing cardiovascular disease. This type of fiber can also help improve glucose control by slowing the absorption of sugar resulting in better blood sugar levels. Insoluble fiber can help relieve constipation by helping food move more efficiently through digestive system and increases stool bulk.
Citrus fruits are also abundant in multiple other important nutrients, including folate, potassium, thiamin, niacin, calcium, vitamin B6, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, riboflavin and pantothenic acid.
As you can see by the incredible benefits and nutrient profile, adding citrus should be an important inclusion in a balanced diet, essential to your overall health.
Citrus will keep for a couple of days at room temperature in cooler climates, however we highly recommend storing citrus in the crisper drawer of your fridge where it will keep for several weeks.