In this country, the idea of having some citrus fruit or citrus juice every day is so popularly spread and associated with the concept of a wholesome diet, that even a suggestion of citrus being anything but beneficial is met with skepticism.
Let me state right at the beginning that there is nothing wrong with citrus fruit per se. All fruits, including oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, are excellent foods and used with wisdom and in moderation could constitute an important part of every diet
However, in recent years many nutritionists and medical researchers have questioned the value of citrus in the diet. It was shown in tests that citric acid in citrus fruit can cause tooth damage. It has also been shown that citrus juices are finked with peptic ulcers and can unfavorably affect the general health.” Some nutritionists and health writers, impressed by the findings of these researchers, have concluded that all citrus fruits should be eliminated from the diet
It seems to me that the citrus question has been handled rather unscientifically. It is unfair to condemn citrus fruit as such when so many other factors related to its use are not taken into consideration.
First, in tests, which put citrus fruit in a bad light, usually only citrus juices are used, not the whole fruit.
Second, most citrus fruit in this country has not been given a chance to ripen fully on the trees. They are harvested unripened to assure an early market Unripe citrus has a much higher content of acids, which can be very harmful, even when the fruit is eaten whole. It is, of course, even more injurious in the form of a concentrated juice.
Third, we should not forget that citrus fruit today is so loaded with toxic chemicals of various kinds—preservatives, artificial colorings, insecticide sprays, waxes, etc.—that some of these are bound to be consumed; this is especially true in regard to commercial juices, where the whole fruit, skin and all, is squeezed in huge, powerful presses.
Then, how many of us do use fresh juices anymore? The great majority of Americans drink frozen, reconstituted, or canned fruit juices, not to mention so-called fruit drinks, where there is actually not much of real juice or fruit at all, only artificial colorings and flavorings and various chemicals and preservatives.
Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, which is very important for arthritis sufferers, because it is essential for the health and stability of collagen and all connective tissues of the body, as well as for all vital processes of the body and proper functioning of organs and glands. The juice of half a lemon in a glass of warm water, sweetened with one teaspoon of honey, is an
excellent morning drink for anybody, including persons with arthritis. But it should not be taken every day for prolonged periods. It should be alternated with vegetable broths and herb teas.
Likewise, half a grapefruit once or twice a week, or one whole orange two or three times a week, will do no harm but lots of good. Again it should not be continued endlessly, but alternated with periods when other fruits are used.
The modern, efficient communication and cold storage system makes it possible to buy any kind of fruits and vegetables, anywhere in the United States, any time of the year. This is called progress. But from a nutritional point of view this is a very unfortunate development. This is admittedly great “marketing progress,” but it has contributed to the establishment of such unhealthy habits as using certain fruits or, which is even worse, certain fruit juices every day of the year, year after year.
All fruit should be eaten “in season.” Eat citrus only for a few months during winter when it is harvested. Then switch to the other fruits as they come “in season”—various berries, peaches, cherries, apples, etc. This way you will get fruit always when it is fresh and at the peak of its nutritional value, and your body will be afforded an opportunity to obtain a great variety of nutritive elements. In storage, even cold storage, all produce gradually loses its vitamin content.
The nutritive value of various fruits—vitamins, minerals, enzymes, trace elements, etc.—varies considerably. Also, the habit of eating fruit in season will be a good protective measure for possible damage by an overdosage, as is the case with citric acid in citrus fruits.
In summary, citrus fruits are good for you if you eat them whole and in moderation, not more than two to three in a week. (Lemon is an exception. It can be juiced and used diluted in water in drinks and in salad dressing.) But use citrus only in season and sec that it is organically grown without poisonous sprays. In practice, it would mean that you have to buy it only from sources you can trust or from the better health food stores which sell certified, organically grown produce.
If you live in northern parts of the country you can leave citrus fruits out of your diet entirely and replace them with vitamin C-rich apples and other fruits grown in the area.