Most of us think about citrus as a refreshing summer treat, like a tall glass of lemonade (or margarita…). It tuns out, winter is actually when most of those tart fruits are actually at their freshest. Plus, they can help keep you healthy all year round.
Take a look to see see how you can feel your best with these in-season picks!
Heart Hero: Kumquats
Kumquats are tart, sweet and tiny, and Chinese researchers say enjoying a heaping cup of them each day could reduce your risk of heart disease by 25 percent. The reason: Kumquat skins are laced with hesperidin, a healing plant compound that tamps down cholesterol production by as much as 16 percent, plus relaxes arteries — an effect that lowers blood pressure by up to 6 points.
Immunity Booster: Grapefruit
Eating one pink grapefruit a day boosts the production of germ-fighting antibodies and T cells by up to 33 percent, so you can quickly trounce invading viruses and bacteria, plus bounce back two days faster if you do fall ill, say UCLA scientists. The fruit is rich in immunity-strengthening carotenoids, plus each one contains 120 percent of the Daily Value of vitamin C.
Skin Healer: Tangerines
Chilly temps and dry indoor air triple the risk of flaky skin, but you can kick-start healing in as little as 4 days by eating 2 tangerines daily. How? Australian scientists say the gems’ bioflavonoids and beta-carotene improve circulation to the skin.
For a sweet treat, peel and section 4 tangerines, place on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray, and top with a mixture of 2 Tbs. of chopped almonds and 1 Tbs. of brown sugar. Broil 1 to 2 minutes. For a salad, mix 4 cups of kale, 4 peeled and sectioned tangerines, 4 oz. of goat cheese and 2 avocados, then drizzle with your favorite dressing.
GI Soother: Lemon
Working the juice of half a lemon into your daily diet can ward off bloat, belly pain, indigestion, and other tummy troubles. Stanford University scientists credit the fruit’s natural plant acids and d-limonene- phytonutrients that jumpstart the production of digestive enzymes, plus stimulate intestinal muscle contractions.
Stress Reliever: Lime
The tart scent of lime soothes the amygdala (the brain’s anxiety center), helping you feel calmer and less anxious within 2 minutes of the first bite (or sip) of a lime-infused dish or drink, report British researchers. An added perk: Limes contain a family of nutrients (limonoids) that help nourish and heal overworked adrenals, cutting stress levels by as much as 25 percent if you enjoy half a lime daily.
Mood Lifter: Pomelo
Snacking on a pomelo can chase away sadness in 5 minutes, suggest studies at Chicago’s Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation. Pomelos’ acidic bite (they taste like a mild grapefruit) stimulates the formation of mood-boosting brain waves. It’s also rich in potassium, a mineral that revs the production of feel-good serotonin.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.