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Citrus Fruits: A Rich Source of Phytochemicals and their Roles in Human Health A Review

Author(s): Donatus Ebere Okwu

Citrus fruits are the main fruit trees grown throughout the world and are well – appreciated for their refreshing juice and health benefits. Numerous therapeutic properties have been attributed to citrus fruits, like anticancer, antiviral, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory activities, and effects on capillary fragility as well as an ability to inhabit platelet aggregation. More recently, therapeutic values related to cardiovascular diseases and age related macular degeneration have been reported. These numerous health benefits of citrus fruits are linked to the high amounts of photochemical and bioactive compounds such as flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamins and minerals available in citrus fruits. These phytonutrients may act as antioxidants, stimulate the immune systems; induce protective enzymes in the liver or block the damage of the genetic materials. The phytonutrients and vitamins may be responsible for the antioxidant, anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties of the citrus species. The citrus species have numerous applications in herbal medicine and as fruits in Nigeria. In this review, the protective effects of citrus flavonoids and carotenoids against cancer, tumor growth, cardio diseases and macular degeneration along with various healing benefits and nutritional values of citrus fruits have been discussed.

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