Which part of a citrus fruit contains the most health properties? Answer: citrus peels! They’re beneficial for preventing cancer and cardiovascular disease. They can also help to prevent fluid retention and the accumulation of fat. They raise your immune defences and provide many other benefits, as well.
The medicinal, culinary and cosmetic benefits of these peels aren’t widely known. In this article, we’ll explain how to use the ‘natural packaging’ from lemon, orange, mandarine, lime and grapefruit to make the most of these healthy advantages.
It is quite important that you use only home-grown or organic fruits. Otherwise, you may expose yourself and your family members to pesticides or other toxic substances that have accumulated in the peel.
Conserve it well
First – and most importantly – you must wash the fruit well. Peel and remove the white bits from the inside, as these may be bitter.
Grating them and using them raw is one of the best and simplest ways to use citrus peel because they’re so fresh and aromatic. However, if you want to conserve them so that you can use them every once in awhile, you can freeze the zest. No room in the freezer? Another option is to dry them in the sun naturally or in the oven on a low temperature for a few hours. You can then mince them with the help of a coffee grinder.
Citrus peels benefit the body in multiply ways. They are:
- Powerfully active antioxidants because of their flavonoid content. Flavonoids help to naturally prevent and treat cancer – especially skin and breast cancer. They can also minimise the risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease.
- High in vitamin C, which helps to boost your immune system and keep it strong.
- Cleansing and purifying to your body, both internally and externally. They also help to prevent fluid retention.
- Good for promoting relaxation and, in fact, have slightly sedative properties. Citrus helps improve mood.
- Great for improving the digestion, particularly of fats.
- Helpful in the assimilation of nutrients such as iron, which is why citrus can help in the treatment of anaemia.
Whether raw or dried, citrus peels will lend a refreshing and wonderfully aromatic touch to your recipes. Not only will the addition of citrus elevate your dishes, but it will provide health benefits and facilitate digestion. Here are some ideas to stimulate your imagination.
- In cakes, biscuits, pastries and puddings: fold them into the dough or use them as a decoration.
- Add to vinaigrettes and sauces or season your oils with them.
- Use them as a spice (dried or as a powder) to season soups, stews and other savoury dishes.
- Give a fresh twist to ice cubes by adding citrus zest to the water in the ice cube mould.
- Sugar coat either the entire peel or just bits of it by boiling it with sugar as if you were making a syrup. Dip the bits in sugar and bake them.
For syrup: boil the peel with agave nectar or sugar until it’s reduced by half. Refrigerate this syrup and use it in the kitchen as a syrup for both children and adults to raise immune defences. It can also help to prevent diseases that are caused by viruses and bacteria.
Topical and cosmetic uses
Because it’s bountiful in vitamins and minerals, citrus fruits keep your skin clear and improve its texture by preventing flaccidity, providing hydration and reducing the appearance of wrinkles. How do they do all this? Well, it’s because they improve cellular regeneration and encourage to the production of collagen.
Some of their most powerful cosmetic benefits are as:
- A natural exfoliant. You can simply and effectively exfoliate your skin and help its regeneration by mixing together the following: sugar or sea salt, lemon zest or powder and olive or almond oil (if you have dry skin). If you have oily skin, replace the oil with aloe vera gel.
- An effective deodorant. If you blend citrus peels, the juice that results can be used as a very effective natural deodorant without any harmful chemicals. Keep it in the fridge to preserve it. It will stay fresh for a few days. Alternatively, you can freeze it and use it bit by bit.
- A healthy addition to handmade soaps. Here is a link to an easy recipe for making a natural lavender soap. If you use citrus peels in place of lavender, you will get a deep cleansing and lusciously aromatic soap.
Images courtesy of veronicasheppard, ecstaticist and ecstaticist