Good and Bad Citrus Fruits

Oranges, grapefruits, mandarins, tangerines, lemons, and limes are not created equal! Some of these fruits are great for health while others are acid-forming.

New year’s resolution: eat healthier! Starting the day with a tall glass of orange juice may sound like a great idea… but is it actually good for you? Although many doctors still recommend orange juice as a source of vitamin C, newer findings by naturopaths suggest that lemons and limes are far better for health than oranges. Citrus fruits, in fact, range from very good for overall health, to fairly poor – with oranges at the low end of the scale.

The Best Citrus Fruit for Health: Lemons

Lemons are one of the single best foods for boosting the immune system and balancing the body’s acid-alkali pH. Lemons are as high in vitamin C as the esteemed orange, but have less sugar and are more easily metabolized by most people.

One of the best substitutes for that morning cuppa, cappuccino, black coffee, or OJ is a mug of hot or warm water with the juice of half a lemon. Try adding a spoonful of honey or agave nectar to sweeten the mixture if desired. The hot water with lemon drink hydrates the body and resets internal pH. It also triggers the production of enzymes needed to digest breakfast.

Another easy way to incorporate more lemon into your diet is in salad dressings. Substituting fresh lemon juice for vinegar in most dressings yields a brighter, sweeter flavor. Vinegar is a big no-no for pH and candida elimination diets; lemons are a convenient and tasty option.

Second-best: Limes
Limes are a not-so-close second to lemons when it comes to healthy citrus fruits. They will do as a lemon substitute in a pinch, but are not as high in minerals as lemons nor are they as beneficial for pH balance. Nevertheless, if lemons are not handy, limes are a great second choice and can be used almost the same way as lemons.


Grapefruit is neither here nor there as far as health benefits go. It is a great source of vitamin C (particularly the pithy white part under the skin) and is recommended on many diets because of its ability to cleanse the body and encourage weight loss, but it is too acidic for some people. Depending how your body metabolizes grapefruit, you may want to eat it, use sparingly, or avoid it altogether.

Try to avoid pre-made grapefruit juices, since most will have added sugar. At the least, it’s a good idea to read the labels and find those brands that don’t add anything to the juice.

Tangerines, Mandarin Oranges

Tangerines, mandarin oranges and almost any smallish citrus fruit that looks like an orange will be only marginally better than an orange itself. Most people do best to eat these in moderation.

The Worst Citrus Fruit for Health: Oranges

Despite experts’ suggestion to eat oranges for vitamin C, oranges are neither the best source of vitamin C nor a really ideal source of anything else. Lemons contain as much vitamin C as oranges, and wolfberries (or goji berries) have even more.

The real problem with oranges is the amount of sugar they contain and their high glycemic index. They spike blood sugar too much to be eaten regularly enough to meet vitamin needs.

OJ is still an improvement over a daily coffee or soft drink… but when it comes to a morning elixir, something like lemon or grapefruit - or a shot of wolfberry juice – is better for health.


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