How important are citrus fruits in diet

Citrus fruits are considered as a vital part of a nutritious diet. Citrus-based fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre (non-starch polysaccharides). Thus citrus fruits result in enhanced nutritional well being of an individual. Latest research points out that the daily consumption of citrus fruits can effectively bring down the risk of certain chronic ailments.

Citrus is one of the most popular sources of Vitamin C. Apart from Vitamin C; citrus fruits contain other essential nutrients such as both glycaemic and non-glycaemic carbohydrate (sugars and fibre), potassium, folate, thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and a variety of phytochemicals.

Phytochemicals present in citrus fruits have a wide range of positive physiological effects and are also found to help in guarding the body from various chronic diseases, including cancer and heart irregularities.

Another advantage of eating citrus fruits is that they are absolutely free from fat and cholesterol. Sodium is also absent in citrus fruits. Since the average energy value of fresh citrus fruits is low, they find place in the diets prescribed for over-weight people.

The energy-providing source in citrus is carbohydrate. Citrus fruits are rich in simple carbohydrates (sugars) fructose, glucose and sucrose. Citric acid, by itself, is capable of providing minimal energy needs. Citrus fruits are also abundant in non-starch polysaccharides, popularly called as dietary fibre. Dietary fibre is a complex carbohydrate with immense health benefits. The most important fibre present in citrus fruits is pectin. It constitutes around seventy per cent of the total fibre present in citrus fruits. The remaining thirty percent is contributed by cellulose, hemicellulose and trace amounts of gums. Lignin, a fibre-like component is also present in citrus fruits.

Vitamin C, present in citrus fruits helps in the formation of collagen, which is necessary for the maintenance of connective tissues. Adequate synthesis of collagen results in strong ligaments, blood vessels, tendons and bones. Vitamin C is also helpful during the process of inorganic iron absorption. As a prominent antioxidant, Vitamin C helps in the prevention of cell damage.

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