Read citrus fruits and immediately think of their wealth of Vitamin C, useful for preventing (or healing more quickly) winter ailments. But these fruits are a mine of many other beneficial substances, which act on several fronts and ensure the welfare at any time of the year.
Several scientific studies have highlighted them antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antitumor action. And their ability to protect the health of the heart, liver, brain, gut. Let's find out, with the help of Dr. Nicoletta Bocchino, a nutritional biologist in Brindisi, why it is better not to let them be missed in the menu.
"Let's start by specifying that vitamin C is not just for strengthening defenses of the organism », begins our expert. «This substance also plays a leading role in counteracting the action of free radicals, responsible for cellular aging, and in promoting the absorption of iron, essential for bringing oxygen to all tissues.
Furthermore, oranges, tangerines and grapefruit are an excellent source of beta-carotene, which protects the skin, and of Vitamins of group B, essential to keep the metabolism efficient and the muscles and nervous system in good health ».
They are friends of the line
Citrus fruits also contain pectin. «This soluble fiber, once ingested, forms a gel that slows down the absorption of sugars and gastric emptying, avoiding the fluctuations of the glycemia responsible for the hunger attacks », explains Doctor Bocchino.
And there is more: «Pectin promotes intestinal transit, keeps the bacterial flora and favors the control of levels of cholesterol in the blood », adds the nutritionist.
"Deflate" and purify
Oranges & Co. also assure you many minerals. "Among these, potassium stands out: a mineral with a draining action that contributes to the balance of cell fluids, promotes the elimination of toxins and is involved in the regulation of the electrical activity of the heart and blood pressure », explains Dr. Bocchino.
«Citrus fruits are also rich in magnesium, essential for keeping blood vessel walls elastic (preventing circulatory disorders) and for transforming sugars into energy ».
They protect the heart and the brain
Finally, citrus fruits they are a mine of antioxidants. The most recent studies have focused on their flavanones belonging to the best known group of flavonoids, which have been found to be very effective in fighting free radicals that cause cellular aging.
The researchers ofPaulista State University, in Brazil, have for example observed that these substances would be capable of protect the heart and liver from the risks of a diet that is too high in fat.
While a study published in the scientific journal Biochemical Pharmacology and conducted by the Pharmacy Department of the University of Pisa, has highlighted how naringenin (a flavanone) reduces the damage due to an insufficient blood supply to the cardiac muscle.
Finally, according to one Japanese research out of over 13 people, the results of which were disclosed by the Journal of Nutrition, regular consumption of oranges, lemons and limes would reduce the risk of dementia.
Choose them from the country and organic
How to make sure you get the right citrus fruits? First of all prefer those grown in some country: «Often citrus fruits arriving from abroad are matured in ethylene chambers, a gas that mainly modifies the hue of the peel», warns Dr. Oscar Luciano Atzori, biologist expert in food safety and health protection.
Better then that they are of organic production: «They are grown without pesticides and, after harvest, they are not treated with chemical substances which make the rind, naturally rich in antioxidants, more beautiful to the eye but not edible ”, explains Dr. Nicoletta Bocchino.
For others, the advice is above all that of read the labels present on the packaging «and to avoid products with the wording" non-edible peel ", because it has residues of polishes and anti-mold, such as additives E232 (sodium-Phenylphenate), E904 (shellac), E914 (oxidized polyethylene wax), all harmful to health », continues Dr. Atzori.
Which then gives this final indication on the colore, another index of higher or lower quality of citrus fruits: "It must be marked, because this signals that the fruit has reached the right point of ripeness and, consequently, is richer in nutrients».
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