Citrus fruits have long been favorites among different cuisines across the globe for their bright colors, and bursts of sweet and tart flavors. They’re best known for their ability to boost the body’s immune system due to their high Vitamin C content–but citrus fruits also help build healthy, strong skin cells from within. Not only is Vitamin C great for the immune system, but it’s also a crucial building block of collagen–the main supportive protein in the body responsible for supple, plump, youthful-looking skin. In addition to Vitamin C, citrus fruits are also rich with carotenoid antioxidants and other skin-healthy nutrients such as Vitamins A and E, B vitamins, zinc, copper, and fiber.
Here are four of our top citrus fruits for healthy skin:
If you’re looking for a refreshing burst of flavor, grapefruits certainly deliver. Unlike the sweeter citrus fruits, grapefruits are mostly tart with a hint of sweetness. They most often come in white, pink, and ruby varieties, and can range in taste from very acidic and even bitter to sweet. Grapefruits are best known for weight loss benefits, but they’re great for the skin too due to their high water content and low sugar content compared to other citrus fruits. Grapefruits are tasty all by themselves, and many enjoy them as a light breakfast or snack. They’re also great addition in any type of fruit or green salad, are a unique and delicious addition to salsa, and provide a lovely contrast when paired with creamy avocado in a crispy romaine salad topped with almonds.
Many a foodie eagerly await the arrival of satsumas–a cold-hardy mandarin orange variety–in the late fall harvest. Here’s a fun fact: in the US, the term ‘tangerine’ is often used synonymously with mandarin; but the truth is that all tangerines are mandarins but not all mandarins are tangerines! The satsuma’s exterior is often described in less than flattering terms with its thick, leathery texture, lumpy shape and loose, oily peel, but its interior can be described as nothing less than gorgeous, fragrant and juicy. Touted as one of the sweetest of the numerous mandarin varieties, the satsuma is also a cinch to peel and enjoy. Its loose ‘zipper skin’ is removed with just a couple of tears. Inside you’ll find perfect little virtually seedless and honey-sweet segments. Though they might look resilient on the outside, it’s important to handle satsumas with care as their unique skin bruises readily with pressure. Satsumas add decadence to desserts, elegance to cocktails, and a exoticness to smoothies. Their bright, sweet segments or juice pair nicely with peppery or bitter greens, like endive, arugula, or kale for a great salad. You can also just peel into this skin-healthy gem for a simple and satisfying snack.
Citrus peels hold their own skin benefits, including antioxidant-rich bioflavonoids, but we usually skip ingesting them, or do so in minute amounts. It’s the rare citrus fruit that has a completely edible peel, like the kumquat! Kumquats have a thin, sweet peel and juicy, tart flesh, and they’re small enough to eat in just a bite or two. One kumquat has about 15% of your daily vitamin C, so it’s easy to get your fill of this skin-protective vitamin in just one handful of kumquats. These fiber-rich citrus fruits are still a bit exotic in many areas, so they might not be as familiar as other citrus fruits. If you haven’t tried them, look for them in stores during their peak season of November to March. Kumquats are commonly used in marmalades and jams, but we believe they’re the most beneficial for your skin when eaten fresh, in a salad or as a snack.
Lemons are often used to add a burst of tart, sour flavor to any dish. In recent years, drinking freshly squeezed lemon juice in a mug of warm water in the morning has gained in popularity as a great way to jumpstart your digestive system and energy for the day. Though lemons contain citric acid like other citrus fruits, they produce an alkaline ash when digested, which helps to neutralize built-up acid in the gut. Even so, lemons are too sour for most people to enjoy eating. That’s not the case with Meyer lemons! These beautiful yellow-orange lemons are naturally sweeter and less acidic than regular lemons, since they resulted from a common lemon crossing with either with a mandarin or common orange at some point in their native China. Of course you can still enjoy them in your morning lemon water and still reap the same skin and gut health benefits, but because they’re naturally more palatable than regular lemons, many people actually eat them. You’ll often see wedges of Meyer lemons in salads and desserts, made into marmalades and vinaigrettes, or infused with honey as a delicious tea. They also make a bright and delicious homemade lemonade or limoncello.
However you choose to enjoy fresh citrus fruits, we encourage you to do so often! Your taste buds and your skin will thank you.
What’s your favorite citrus fruit for healthy skin?
Tell us your choice, and your favorite way to use it, in the comments below!