You’ve probably stocked up on oranges and other citrus fruits during cold and flu season. The immune system benefits of Vitamin C rich oranges and lemons are well-known, but there are lots of similar fruits that provide the same health benefits.
If you like oranges, but want to sample other immune-system boosting fruits, here are nine more choices (plus details about why oranges are so good for you) .
How We Chose Our Ratings
We looked at the availability of fruits (how easy are they to find at a chain grocery store?), their nutritional content, cost, and taste to determine our top ten list. Here's our full list of what we looked in citrus fruit.
Our list has a few familiar items you probably have in your home right now, plus some fruits you may have heard of but haven’t tried –yet.
5 out of 5 stars
Oranges are the most cultivated fruit in the world. They are naturally sweet and are used in juices, marmalades, candies, and much other food and cosmetic products.
Eating oranges or drinking orange juice may help “keep the doctor away” in the same way apples do. Oranges have over 60 flavonoids and more than 170 phytochemicals, so it’s no surprise they are a potent source for protecting you from inflammation and disease.
An orange contains fiber, potassium, choline and plenty of Vitamin C to stabilize blood pressure and heart health. Consuming the recommended daily intake of potassium (about 4700 mg) reduces your chance of heart disease and stroke by as much as 49 percent, according to one study. Potassium also lowers your chance of kidney stones.
A medium orange has 80 calories, 250 mg of potassium, three grams of fiber, and one gram of protein no fat and 19 grams of carbohydrates. Other nutrients in oranges include magnesium, thiamin, niacin, folate, Vitamin B-6, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and manganese.
Oranges also contain carotenoids and zeaxanthin, which promote eye health and prevent cataracts.
4.9 out of 5 stars
Lemons make dishes tastier and add zing to salads and desserts. This citrus fruit also has many vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, folate, potassium and carotenoids. Adding lemon to recipes, or better yet, drinking lemon water in the morning can help detox your system and control your weight.
Drinking lemon water in the morning is an efficient dieting aid because it helps reduce your appetite and promotes overall health.
Lemons and limes have more citric acid than the other fruits on our list. If you suffer from kidney stones, the excess citric acid stops new stones from forming and may break up smaller existing stones.
Antioxidant limonene in lemons may also reduce cancer risk, and have been shown to improve chemotherapy results in women with breast cancer.
4.9 out of 5 stars
The pomelo is sometimes called the father of the grapefruit. (The grapefruit is a hybrid of the pomelo and the orange.) Most Americans aren't familiar with the pomelo, but it's larger and sweeter than grapefruit and has many health benefits.
Pomelos were first grown in Southeast Asia, but the U.S. now produces more pomelos than Mexico and China, even though Americans don’t buy many of these Vitamin C-rich fruits.
The pomelo is yellow to light green, and weighs up to six pounds. It may be 3.9 inches to 11.8 inches I diameter. Pomelo flesh ranges can be rose-red, white, or several colors in between, depending on the variety.
A single serving of pomelo fruit has 193 percent of the daily value of Vitamin C, ten percent of the daily value of Vitamin B6, and nine percent of the daily value of magnesium.
The Vitamin C boosts wound healing and your immune system, while the magnesium helps muscles work smoothly. Vitamin B6 gives you more energy and focus. A pomelo has 37 percent of the recommended daily amount of potassium, which relieves blood vessel tension and reduces strain on the heart.
Research also shows that pomelo skin can help prevent metabolic disorders in mice. The peels of this citrus fruit contain flavonoids, limonoids, and coumarins for extra anti-inflammatory power. Obese mice that ate a high-fat diet experienced better glucose tolerance after eating pomelo peel.
Pomelo can be used to make Goi Buoi Tom Thit, a Vietnamese salad, a pomelo fruit smoothie, or pomelo marmalade.
4.8 out of 5 stars
Mandarin oranges, with their high Vitamin C content, fight free radicals and help raise good cholesterol and reduce bad cholesterol that clings to artery walls. These tasty fruits contain potassium, which is necessary for heart health.
Mandarins are fiber-rich foods, which means they help fill you up so you eat less. This citrus fruit lowers insulin and converts sugars to fats to increase the likelihood of weight loss.
Research has shown that the carotenoids in Mandarin oranges may help prevent liver cancer. When patients with Hepatitis C were given Mandarin juice, the amount of cryptoxanthin in the juice reduced the risk of liver cancer. The limonene in Mandarin oranges also helps prevent breast cancer.
4.8 out of 5 stars
Limes have most of the same benefits as lemons. They contain pectin, which is made of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber may prevent colon cancer, and it may also stabilize blood sugar. Like other fruits, limes can help keep your cholesterol in check. Limes have Vitamin C and potassium, so they boost heart health.
You can drink lime water in the morning to get the same health effects as lemon water.
4.7 out of 5 stars
You know the Key Lime as an ingredient in a refreshing summer pie, but you can eat the fruit straight for better health, too! The Key Lime or Citrus aurantifolia, turn yellow when ripe but is sold when green. It’s more acidic and smaller than the more common Persian lime.
One ounce of lime juice has 14 percent of the recommended value of Vitamin C for adults. Eating key limes or drinking their juice will help you fight colds, the flu, and infections. Vitamin C helps maintain collagen in your hair and skin to keep you looking younger.
Like most fruits, key limes improve peristaltic movement to keep you regular. (If you are constipated, eat citrus fruit instead of spending money on laxatives) .
The soluble fiber in key limes regulates sugar absorption into the bloodstream to reduce blood sugar spikes in people with Type 2 diabetes. Soluble fiber also helps lower bad cholesterol and blood sugar.
4.6 out of 5 stars
The grapefruit has long been a breakfast staple for people who want to lose weight. With only 52 calories in pink and red grapefruit and 39 calories in a white grapefruit, it's no wonder this citrus fruit is a staple food for dieters everywhere.
The sour, somewhat bitter taste of grapefruit may be off-putting to some people, but this fruit is full of beneficial vitamins and minerals. The high water and fiber content of grapefruit fill you up fast to prevent overeating.
One grapefruit has 64 percent of the daily recommended value of Vitamin C. The antioxidants in Vitamin C have been shown to protect against bladder, breast, esophagus, and colon cancer.
If your gums bleed when you brush your teeth, adding grapefruit to your diet may prevent it from recurring. A British study showed that eating two grapefruits a day can reduce damage caused by gum disease and may even reverse it.
This health benefit may be due to the amount of Vitamin C in grapefruit. Vitamin C is essential for healthy gums and strong teeth.
Even before you eat grapefruit, it can help reduce your stress level. A 1995 Japanese study showed the smell of grapefruit made stressed mice calmer.
Grapefruit is an excellent addition to salads, homemade fruit bars, smoothies and sorbet.
(Grapefruit may interact with certain drugs, such as antihistamines and blood pressure medications. Check with your doctor or read prescription leaflets to learn more).
4.6 out of 5 stars
A blood orange has flesh that’s a mixture of orange and dark red. You may get red juice if you squeeze the fruit. You may also see red spots on the fruit’s skin. It tastes much sweeter than other oranges, and can be used in fruit salads, or to make marmalade.
The fruit is smaller than a regular orange, and the skin is thick and hard to peel without a knife. The blood orange might be a cross between the tangerine and pomelo, but no one is quite sure.
A blood orange is red due to antioxidants called anthocyanins. This red pigment is found in fruits, vegetables, and flowers that are red or purple. Foods and flowers containing anthocyanins include tomatoes, tart cherries, red onions, acai, kidney beans, and bilberry.
The orange flesh in blood oranges will develop red spots if the fruit is grown in a climate that’s warm during the day and colder at night. Anthocyanins are flavonoids with anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory benefits.
4.6 out of 5 stars
Tangelos are a combination of the tangerine and the grapefruit or pomelo. They taste similar to tangerines but are very sweet. The fruit has a noticeable nipple, and many people refer to them as "honeybells."
Nutritionally, tangelos have all the vitamins and minerals of tangerines and a bit more. They have flavanones, a type of antioxidant flavonoid known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The potassium, magnesium and calcium content of tangelos also improve heart function and reduce blood pressure. A tangelo has 70 calories,100 percent of the daily value of Vitamin C, four percent of magnesium, calcium, and potassium, four percent of Vitamin A, no sodium, and two grams of fiber.
The Vitamin A in tangelos may reduce the likelihood of macular degeneration in older adults.
The fiber in tangelos will aid digestion and reduce your appetite to keep you slimmer. Consuming enough fiber can help you lower blood sugar, hypertension and reduce your risk of having a stroke.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Kumquats, small fruit-bearing trees, produce a fruit that resembles a small, oval orange. The fruit’s size and shape are reminiscent of a large olive. The fruit is grown in Asian and Middle Eastern countries, and the Southern U.S. Kumquats are used to make preserves and jelly, but they are sometimes added to salads.
A medium kumquat has 71 calories and is high in water. This fruit will fill you up and reduce your urge to overeat. You can get a good portion of your 38 gram recommended intake (for women) and 25 grams (for men) from this fruit, since there are 6.5 grams of fiber in one hundreds grams of kumquats.
Kumquats contain a whopping 163 percent of the daily value of Vitamin C to protect your immune system. One one-hundred gram serving of kumquats has 200 I.U.s of Vitamin A. Vitamin A strengthens your eyesight and produces sebum to keep your hair soft and moisturized.
Kumquats also contain manganese, which helps produce enzymes necessary for antioxidant defense. It's low on the GI (glycemic index), so it won't cause your blood sugar to spike, and a hundred gram serving has 186 mg of potassium for better cardiovascular health.
Use kumquats in salads, bake them in cakes or use them to make preserves. Of course, you can always eat them plain. You don’t even need to peel them.
All citrus fruits contain Vitamin C and varying amounts of potassium and other heart-healthy nutrients. You can buy the most popular fruits on our list anywhere, but kumquats and other lesser-known fruits may only be available at supermarkets or farmers markets.
Although you may be able to buy more exotic fruit online, we recommend buying fruit in person so that you can be assured of a fresh, flavorful treat.