Happy New Year! We had a lovely winter break and I hope you did too. We were lucky enough to spend some time in the southwest of Florida, also known as the sunshine state – and warm and sunny it was too. Just the tonic, as now we’re back up north with snow coming in and temperatures this weekend are set to dip far below freezing.
So, I’m trying to re-capture the sunshine, and since Florida is famous for its oranges, I’m stocking up on citrus. I’ve read a few things lately on the links between citrus and well-being….
Not only are oranges, lemons, kumquats, limes and grapefruits full of Vitamin C, helping to ward off colds (or at least shorten their duration) and keep skin healthy, they are also rich in potassium and fiber, and good for your heart and digestion. They release their sugar energy slowly, keeping you feeling full for longer, and they help release the iron in other foods.
Citrus fruits also have a lot of water content and I know I struggle sometimes to drink enough, especially this time of year, cooped up in a dry, heated home. So what better than some tangy lemon-infused water to begin the day? Or a nice, sweet, juicy orange as a hydrating snack – alongside a square or two of iron-rich dark chocolate?!
There’s nothing like deeply breathing in the scent of a fresh orange or lemon – or my particular favorite, grapefruit – and there are several studies on their mood-boosting properties. As reported by the National Sleep Foundation:
” Lemons, oranges, and grapefruits aren’t just delicious and nutritious – the smell of the fruits can boost your body’s production of serotonin, a hormone that makes you feel happy. They also reduce levels of the stress hormone norepinephrine, so you’ll wake up but still feel calm.”
Aromas are so powerful because of the direct link between the olfactory bulb, which processes smell, and the seats of emotion and memory. Then add the warm, bright colors of citrus fruits, and for me they all have a strong association with happy sun-filled days.
This, then, is my resolution in these cold, dark winter months – to lose myself for a few moments each day in the heady scent of citrus; and taste a little happiness and sunshine!