Citrus is a very common ingredient in Greek cuisine. Particularly lemon. I’ve written this before, but I’ll say it again: Greeks add lemon everywhere: on meat, greens, salads, fish and sauces. Orange is added more commonly to sweets such as koulouroukia (cookies) and cakes especially the ones made with olive oil. But during the winter months you’ll see us here in Greece lugging large bags of oranges from the market, especially older people who still follow the traditional Greek diet (Mediterranean). People here ate fruit after meals and in the winter we always had an orange or mandarin as a dessert and as an afternoon snack with some herbal tea.
Crete, Chios, Lakonia and Argolida are known for their great citrus fruit. I’m lucky to have a cousin who owns orange groves outside of Sparti and get to have bags of oranges. Unfortunately a few Greek juice companies use oranges from the U.S. and South America in order to offer a consistent flavor all year round. I prefer to drink juice made from fruit close to me, particularly as I live in Greece which is known for its tasty produce. Sometimes it is a bit sweeter and sometimes a bit more sour, but that is the beauty of eating (and drinking) locally and in season.
The reason I am writing this post is because a new French study found that eating foods that contain vitamin C may reduce your risk of a hemorrhagic stroke. A stroke is when brain cells die because of lack of oxygen, and a hemorrhagic stroke happens when there is blood inside the skull caused by a blood vessel that ruptures and bleeds. The study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 66th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. The study included 65 people who had experienced a stroke, they compared them with 65 healthy people, they than tested for the levels of vitamin C in their blood. The results showed that 59% of people who had a stroke had either depleted levels of vitamin C or deficient levels.
The researchers stated the their results showed that vitamin C deficiency should be considered a risk factor for this severe type of stroke, as is high blood pressure, drinking alcohol and being overweight in this study.
So start adding that fresh lemon everywhere and eat your oranges, grapefruit and tangerines. And remember the whole fruit is better than the juice, because it has the fiber and satisfies more, plus it will raise your blood sugar levels at a much slower rate.
And of course there are other sources of the vitamin such as tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, watermelon, berries and greens.