Some can fear eating fruit when wanting to lose weight because they are a natural source of sugar. However, fruits have many positive health benefits including: being a good source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. There isn’t need to avoid fruit when wanting to lose weight.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends adults should get between 4-5 servings of fruit per day. Most Americans do not meet the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
Adding more citrus fruits to your diet can help meet your recommended intake of fruit.
Citrus fruits are known to be a good source of vitamin C, but they are also provide potassium, calcium, B vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, and phytochemicals (2).
Citrus fruits are a concentrated source of vitamin C and other antioxidants which can help protect cells from damage associated with chronic diseases.
In fact, citrus fruits have a unique compound called limonoids (3). Limonoids have been shown to help prevent certain types of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
A specific limonoid, nomilin, helped rats fed a high fat diet not gain as much weight as rats not fed nomilin.
Incorporating more citrus in your diet can add flavor and nutrients without adding a lot of calories.
Citrus is one of the most universally known and loved flavor; they can be used for sweet or savory dishes.
Eating different kinds of citrus is recommended to get the most health benefits from these foods.
Here are some examples of citrus fruits that can be beneficial during weight loss or any other time.
Lemons and limes
Lemons and limes can be associated with having properties that can help boost metabolism.
Drinking lemon or lime water can be promoted as a way to help lose weight.
However, drinking lemon water alone will not help you drop pounds.
Drinking lemon water, or any water, can help keep you hydrated which is recommended for overall health.
Putting citrus fruit in water can increase palatability and desire to stay hydrated. It can also be a way to get the vitamins and minerals from lemons into your diet.
However, don’t be fooled that drinking lemon water will drastically boost your metabolism.
Besides putting lemons or limes in your water, you can incorporate them into savory dishes like sautés, meat dishes, salad dressings, roasted vegetables, soups, etc.
One thing to keep in mind if you have issues with stomach acid levels is drinking lemon/ lime water or increasing your intake of citrus fruits may irritate acid reflux.
If you are having increase in heart burn when consuming citrus fruits, speak with your doctor.
Red (Blood) Oranges
Red oranges are traditionally from Sicily, Spain and California. The bright red color of blood oranges is from phytochemicals called anthocyanins.
Other citrus fruits do not normally have anthocyanins, as anthocyanins provide a bright red, purple or blue color.
The high level of anthocyanins means blood oranges contain a rich source of antioxidants.
According to a 2013 article, red orange intake limited weight gain and increased insulin sensitivity in mice on a high fat diet.
While more research is needed in humans, this study suggests getting more blood oranges in your diet may be beneficial for weight loss.
Blood oranges can have an extra sweet flavor. If you have not tried these red oranges, look for them in your grocery store. They can be used in place of regular oranges.
Oranges: skip the juice
One medium orange provides less than 100 calories, 3 grams of fiber and about 130% DV vitamin C.
While all citrus fruits are a good source of vitamin C, oranges are often associated most with being a rich source of this antioxidant.
Eating foods high in vitamin C, like oranges, can help protect against skin damage and may help lower risk for wrinkles (4).
For greatest health benefit, eat whole oranges instead of drinking orange juice.
Juice doesn’t provide the fiber like an orange would, and this can affect the way the body uses carbohydrates from fruits.
A 2013 study (5) concluded greater consumption of fruit was associated with a lowered risk of type 2 diabetes, but consumption of fruit juice was associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Grapefruit: Use caution on medications
Grapefruits were first discovered when oranges were cross bred with pomelos.
They were named grapefruit because of the way they grew in clusters like grapes (6).
Grapefruits can be almost tart and quite acidic tasting. Because of this, they have a low glycemic index meaning they don’t raise blood sugar levels much after eating.
Some fad diets advocate eating copious amounts of grapefruit with little other diet variety.
While that may be an unnecessary dramatization for weight loss, incorporating grapefruit into a healthy, balanced eating plan could be a better approach.
There is some research to suggest grapefruit can have an advantageous role for weight loss.
A 2006 study (7) divided study participants into one of four groups: placebo capsules with apple juice, grapefruit capsules with apple juice, placebo capsules with grapefruit juice or half a grapefruit with placebo capsules.
Each group took these three times per day before meals. Researchers found the grapefruit groups lost more weight that the groups without any grapefruit.
The group eating the fresh grapefruit lost the most weight in this study.
A concern with consuming grapefruit is consuming grapefruit can be contraindicated for many medications.
If you are taking any medication, consult your healthcare team before eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice.
If you are following a special diet for kidney health issues, consult your healthcare team before increasing your intake of citrus fruits.