It's Citrus Season!
What’s the most popular citrus fruit? Oranges, of course!
It’s easy to understand why – they’re sweet, juicy and oh so good for you. In fact, in the United States, oranges are the most popular of all types of fruit – the average person consumes 10 pounds of oranges or orange juice each year. And the second most popular fruit is grapefruit, so it’s pretty clear that we Americans love our citrus!
From a nutritional perspective, that’s a great thing because citrus fruits are brimming with nutrients. Oranges – along with grapefruits and tangerines – are good sources of potassium, vitamin A and fiber. That means they’re heart healthy. And one orange or half a grapefruit has all the vitamin C you need for one day, which is good news for your kids whose immune systems are getting quite the workout with all the cold and flu bugs going around.
Plus, citrus fruits aren’t high in calories. An orange has about 80 calories; a half-grapefruit has 60; and a cute little tangerine has about 50.
Speaking of tangerines – they’re the perfect kid’s snack. They’re small, easy to peel, and just the right serving size for your little ones.
But what about juice?
Eating fresh citrus fruits is best -- they have all the fiber that’s good for the heart and the digestive system without the added sugar. If fresh fruit isn’t available or preferred, orange and grapefruit juices are good too, but it’s important to keep an eye on that increased sugar content. Orange juice has a lot more calories than the fruit itself, and while plain grapefruit juice isn’t too bad calorie-wise, it’s usually sweetened. Be mindful of how your child is consuming their vitamin C, but remember - everything is okay in moderation!
We don’t want to forget about lemons and limes. Although they’re too sour to eat as a snack, they can be added to a glass of water. One or two slices give your water a little flavor without any calories. Perfect for kids (and grownups) who don’t like the taste of plain water.
Shereen Jegtvig is a health and nutrition writer with two decades of experience counseling people on nutrition and diet. She has a master’s degree in human nutrition and is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Association of Health Care Journalists. She is the co-author of Superfoods for Dummies and Clinical Anatomy for Dummies. Shereen also teaches The Evidence Based Approach to Nutrition to nutrition graduate students at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.
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