Citrus fruits are known for being high in antioxidants. But what exactly are antioxidants and why are they good? Antioxidants are molecules that destroy free radicals in the body. Free radicals are other molecules in the body that are unstable due to having an unpaired electron. These could result in dangerous reactions or failure for the body to complete its normal reactions. This is because free radicals are looking for atoms to pair with and will often steal them from other molecules trying to perform their regular functions. So is it possible than an orange might counteract this; that oranges could decrease the chance of and even prevent cancer? Optimistically, yes. Vitamin C is one of the most popular antioxidants and is found in abundance in citrus fruits. This vitamin is responsible for playing roles in some of our bodily functions including iron absorption, skin healing, and protection against disease through the support of the immune system.
Vitamin E is another important antioxidant found in citrus fruits. This vitamin plays a role in membrane protection of the mitochondria; our energy generation organelles. Also found in citrus fruits is vitamin A, most commonly known for maintaining good eyesight. Essentially, this is all that antioxidants do; protect. They protect against harmful molecules, the deterioration of cell parts, and at a larger scale, they protect against poor aging. A large part of aging has to do with the cell’s ability to survive and undergo mitosis. Antioxidants help make cells healthier while also aiding cells while they undergo division.
But before you start having smoothies with every meal it is also important to note too much vitamin intake can have poor consequences. You may be asking, can too much of a good thing like vitamins really be a bad thing? The answer is a simple yes. For example, consuming vitamin A in excess can lead to yellowing of the skin, blurry vision, dizziness, and more. Most vitamin overdoses are due to supplementation or lack of variety in a diet so be sure to do a little research before committing to a new lifestyle change.
Overall, citrus fruits have great benefits. Antioxidants are necessary for our health and we ought to aim to eat more oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, and other tropical fruits. If eating these can lower the risk of cancer and dementia, maybe the saying ought to be changed to ‘an orange a day keeps the doctor away’.