Eating citrus fruits may dramatically decrease some cancer risks

An Orange Express

A friend of mine from Florida usually ships a large box of oranges to me every Christmas. I always thought it was just something Floridians did to be, well, Floridian. But according to a new study, sending this bit of Florida sunshine isn’t just an act of great kindness, it’s an act of great health.

Okay, so that’s not news. But this particular research
analyzed and combined the results of almost 50 studies on
citrus fruits. So even if you already know that citrus is
good nutrition, the conclusions of this research might
inspire you to overnight express a large box of fresh oranges to yourself.

Some basics

Why is an orange good for you? Everyone knows about the high vitamin C content and the natural fiber. But oranges (and other citrus fruits) also contain folic acid, beta-carotene, potassium, selenium, antioxidants, and plenty of
phytochemicals, the bioactive compounds in plant foods that
help nutrients boost the immune system. Citrus fruits also
have a low glycemic index, which make them excellent
nutrition for diabetics.

Knowing this, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial
Research Organization (CSIRO) of Australia conducted an
extensive review of 48 international studies of citrus
fruits. Among the conclusions revealed by the combined data:

  • Those with the highest intake of citrus fruits reduced
    their risk of stomach, mouth, esophageal, and larynxcancers by as much as 40 to 50 percent
  • One additional serving of citrus fruit each day (beyond therecommended five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables) may reduce the risk of stroke by nearly 20 percent
  • The combined studies (including the World Health
    Organization’s recent draft report on “Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Disease”) reveal “convincingevidence” that cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, andobesity may be reduced with daily citrus fruit intake

Commenting on the dramatic reduction of some cancer risks, CSIRO researcher Katrine Baghurst told Reuters news service that the inhibition of tumor growth and the normalizing of tumor cells is most likely the result of the high antioxidant content of citrus fruits.

Again: Not news, and no surprise really. But this new
evidence serves as an irrefutable reminder of just how
important it is for our diets to include as many fresh whole
foods as possible – especially citrus.

The powerhouse

Citrus fruits – and oranges in particular – deliver two
highly favorable aspects of nutrition, which I’ve told you
about in previous e-Alerts this year: flavinoids and water-
soluble fiber.

Flavinoid is a substance that gives fruits and vegetables
their color. It also performs a beneficial double duty as
both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. In short: it’s
absolutely necessary in helping your cells do their work. And
an orange is a flavinoid powerhouse, containing more than 60 different types of flavinoids.

In the e-Alert “A Cell’s Best Friend” (5/1/03), I told you
about a Finland study in which the effects of different
varieties of flavonoids on chronic diseases were examined in more than 10,000 subjects over a period of almost 30 years. The resulting data showed that subjects who consumed more flavonoid-rich foods were less likely to suffer from a number of chronic diseases, including heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, asthma, and type 2 diabetes.

Furthermore, those whoate foods that provided a variety of different types of flavonoids enjoyed greater longevity.

The water method

Oranges are also very high in unrefined, water-soluble fiber.

In the e-Alert “Water Works” (9/16/03), I told you about two
different studies (one of almost 10,000 subjects in the U.S.,
and another with about 1,000 subjects in Italy) that examined
the relationship of water-soluble fiber intake to coronary
heart disease (CHD). In both studies, subjects with the
highest intake of this fiber had a significantly lower risk
of developing CHD, compared to those with the lowest intake.

The Milan study also showed that subjects with the highest
intake of water-soluble fiber reduced their heart attack risk
by an impressive 36 percent compared with subjects who ate very little of this type of fiber.

So if someone sends you a box of fresh oranges for the
holidays, be sure to thank them from the bottom of your
heart.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson
Health Sciences Institute

Sources:

“The Health Benefits of Citrus Fruits – Report to
Horticulture Australia, Ltd.” Commonwealth Scientific and
Industrial Research Organization, June 2003,
austcitrus.org.au

“An Orange a Day May Keep Some Cancers Away” Reuters Health, 12/3/03, reutershealth.com

“Health Benefits Boost Citrus Sales” NutraIngredients.com,
12/4/03, nutraingredients.com

“Flavonoid Intake and Risk of Chronic Diseases” American
Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 76, no. 3, September
2002, ajcn.org

“Dietary Fiber Intake and Reduced Risk of Coronary Heart
Disease in US Men and Women” Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 163, No. 16, 9/8/03, archinte.ama-assn.org