Tag Archives: citrus

Citrus Peel Health Benefits

3 Apr

When this blog was started, I intended to post not only recipes, but notes about health and nutrition or things related… 2 years later, here’s my first post to add to this category!

I’m not a huge citrus fan… I mean, I like it ok, but it’s definitely not on my “always eat” or “always buy” list.  The typical orange is definitely my least favorite of all citrus, while my favorite citrus is probably grapefruit or pomello, but I also enjoy the occasional clementine.  The nice thing about them though, is they are easy. Easy to take on trips as they don’t bruise easily, go bad or over-ripen quickly.  Because of this, I often pick up a bag of clementines (otherwise commonly known as the brand “cuties”) to take with me on climbing trips.

To add to my dislike of citrus, you have to peel them.  OR so I thought.  Yesterday my dad was telling me about a recent study he read on the affects of citrus peel decreasing the risk of skin cancer.  Apparently, if you eat some of the peel, it carries a HUGE health benefit!!  GASP.  You mean, I can just bite a chunk out of the clementine without having to peel it??!!!  YES. done.  Here’s some quick notes on the study:

A 1999 study showed consuming citrus peels, but not the fruit itself or its juice, lowered the risk of skin cancer. Limonene found in the skin of citrus fruit is the probable beneficial compound. Be sure to look for organic fruit if you are planning to eat the peel. Another fruit not mentioned with a high limonene content where you are expected to eat the peel, is the kumquat.

Citrus peel use is associated with reduced risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, by Hakim IA, Harris RB, Ritenbaugh C., Cancer Prevention and Control, Arizona Cancer Center, College of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA. Nutr Cancer. 2000;37(2):161-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11142088 

From the abstract, limonene has demonstrated efficacy in preclinical models of breast and colon cancers. The principal sources of d-limonene are the oils of orange, grapefruit, and lemon. The present case-control study was designed to determine the usual citrus consumption patterns of an older Southwestern USA population and to then evaluate how this citrus consumption varied with history of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin. 

In this Arizona population, 64.3% and 74.5% of the respondents reported weekly consumption of citrus fruits and citrus juices, respectively. Orange juice (78.5%), orange (74.3%), and grapefruit (65.3%) were the predominant varieties of citrus consumed. Peel consumption was not uncommon, with 34.7% of all subjects reporting citrus peel use. 

There was no association found between the overall consumption of citrus fruits or citrus juices and skin SCC. However, the most striking finding was the protection purported by citrus peel consumption. Moreover, there was a dose-response relationship between higher citrus peel in the diet and degree of skin cancer risk lowering. 

This was the first study to explore the relationship between citrus peel consumption and human cancers. The results show that peel consumption, the major source of dietary d-limonene, is not uncommon and may have a potential protective effect in relation to skin SCC.

I know you’re probably thinking “eat the peel? gross.”  And for regular orange peel, I would agree… but, clementine peel is much thinner and has kind of an interesting sweet tangy taste to it – not bad! Kind of like a kumquat…

True, your friends might look at you like you’re a caveman when you sink your teeth into the fruit whole, but maybe it’ll start a trend! ;)  You probably don’t want to eat 10 clementines peel and all, but one or two a day can be highly beneficial. Plus, citrus peel takes a long time to decompose in nature….and it’s unsightly… so next time you’re camping or hiking, eat some clementines and put the peel in your belly, not on the ground!  :)

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