Whether you use their juice to whip up a refreshing drink or tuck straight in, citrus fruits offer more than a kick of zesty flavour.
According to Dr Justine Butler, head of research at Viva!, the likes of oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes could help “alleviate” painful arthritis symptoms.
Arthritis refers to a diverse set of conditions characterised by inflammation in the joints that triggers pain and stiffness.
Dr Butler said: “Fruit and vegetables are known to be natural sources of bioactive compounds that can benefit our health, such as vitamins C and E, flavonoids, anthocyanins, phenolic compounds, carotenoids and fibre.
“While research supports the role of berries in alleviating inflammation and pain in arthritis, there is also some evidence that compounds found in citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes, may also help alleviate symptoms.”
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The reason why citrus fruits could tackle the painful symptoms comes down to their content of flavonoids and vitamin C, which are considered good sources of inflammation-fighting antioxidants.
Dr Butler said: “Research suggests that citrus flavonoids may suppress inflammation by lowering levels of a compound called tumour necrosis factor-a (TNF-a).
“TNF-a is considered one of the main mediators of joint inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis.
“Another study suggests that citrus extracts may help improve knee joint pain and flexibility and reduce C-reactive protein (CRP) levels.
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“CRP is released in the body in response to inflammation and doctors measure levels as part of the diagnosis and management of rheumatoid arthritis.”
However, the expert explained that CRP levels are also often higher in those with osteoarthritis.
So while the majority of the research focuses on rheumatoid arthritis, people with osteoarthritis may also benefit from eating citrus fruits.
What’s more, one study suggested that you could start reaping the potent effects within “weeks”.
Butler said: “One study looking at the effects of quercetin supplements in women with rheumatoid arthritis, found less morning pain and stiffness, less pain after activity, and fewer tender joints were achieved within eight weeks.
“The plant pigment quercetin is a potent antioxidant flavonoid found mostly in onions, grapes, berries, cherries, broccoli and citrus fruits and has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.”
The expert recommended eating around 150 grams of fresh fruit per day, including berries and citruses.
However, Dr Butler urged speaking to a doctor if you take any arthritis medication before you add citrus fruits to your daily menu, as the likes of grapefruit could interfere with your treatment.
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