Citrus has long been a favored fruit, especially during long winter months, when the bright colors of its skin and flesh, remind us that winter cannot last forever and the warmth of the sun will soon return.
A new report featured in “Stroke: a journal of the American Heart Association”, states that eating citrus may lower the risk of ischemic strokes (clots), especially in women. Ischemic stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked.
The researchers analyzed 14 years worth of data on 69,622 women nurses that participated in the nationwide study. Every 4 years the participants had to fill out a survey listing their food intake. The women, who consumed the most citrus, in particular oranges and grapefruit, had the lowest stroke risk.
One flaw in the study was the over emphasis on the high intake of flavanones, which is found in many foods including chocolate and red wine. The largest concentrations, however, are in oranges.
What did the study leave out and what is the major flaw?
The study, as many do, did not consider the fact that people who consume daily fruit, will also on average consume daily vegetables, eat a healthier diet and usually have healthier lifestyle habits such as proper exercise, not smoking etc…
The main flaw however, as mentioned earlier, was the focus on flavanones as the key to reducing strokes. This is a flaw rooted in reductionism which is ever active in Allopathic medicine and research. While flavanones may, or may not, be important, to focus on one component at the exclusion of the other components that make up oranges and grapefruit, as well as, other citrus is misleading and potentially counterproductive.
What would a Taoist interpretation involve?
Using the Taoist understanding of the five tastes, we can determine how, or why, citrus could lower the risk of strokes. According to the five tastes, and the Taoist understanding of the organs/bowels, citrus, as well as raw fruit in general, is labeled as a sour food type. The sour taste affects the liver and gallbladder, and provides the essential energy and nutrition for the liver/gallbladder to function normally and maintain balance. If the sour taste is consumed too frequently or too infrequently, the liver/gallbladder could be harmed.
When the liver and gallbladder are functioning normally the liver is able to remove toxins from food and together the liver and gallbladder are able to remove fat and properly handle harmful oils as well. Thus, reducing the amount of fat in the blood stream will reduce the risk of stroke. Citrus, also has the added benefit of containing mild acids, which also help to breakdown fat and oils.
So according to Taoism, the results of this study, has less to do with flavanones, and more to do with how the sour taste affects the liver and gallbladder, and the role that a properly functioning liver and gallbladder plays in sustaining health and wellness.
Taoist nutrition has long advocated eating one apple and a half an orange daily to help keep the liver and gallbladder healthy.
What are the benefits of oranges according to Taoism?
Maoshing Ni states in “The Tao of Nutrition” that oranges:
“lubricate lungs, resolves [removes] mucous, increases appetite, strengthens spleen, quenches thirst, promotes body fluids”. It can also be used to invigorate the Qi (energy) and remove dampness…”
In “Chinese Natural Cures”, Dr. Henry Lu states that:
“orange leaves relax the liver, promote energy circulation, remove phlegm, heal swelling; orange peels regulate energy, remove phlegm and congestion, strengthen the spleen; sour orange peels remove phlegm, stop vomiting, promote digestion; tangerine orange seeds regulate energy flow in the body and relieve pain…”
As you can see, there are many benefits to eating the entire orange including finding interesting ways to utilize the peels and seeds as well. Also, Taoism would recommend eating the entire fruit rather than drinking the juice, as fruit juice is too concentrated and lacks the balancing effects of the other components found only in the pulp, seeds and skin.
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