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Oranges are a popular fruit around the globe. They are used in a variety of products, including flavoring agents, absorbents, binders, fragrances, hair conditioners, soaps, cleansers, skin care products, hair care products, fragrances and perfumes, and detergents.
Oranges possess a wide range of health benefits as well.
Nutrition Profile of Oranges
One medium orange is considered one fruit serving and can be enjoyed up to two to four times per day.
One medium orange contains 70 calories, 0 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, 16 grams of carbohydrate (12 grams are naturally occurring sugars), and 3 grams of fiber. It also contains 100% of your daily needs of vitamin C and about 235 mg of potassium.
Oranges have a low glycemic index, making them favorable choices for people with diabetes. (1)(2)
Types of Oranges
There are two categories of oranges: sweet and bitter.
The sweet varieties are more popular than the bitter varieties. They include the Valencia, Navel, Mandarin, Satsuma, Seville, Hamlin, Jaffa, Clementine, and Pineapple oranges.
Mandarins, which are native to southeast China, are easier to peel, have flatter ends, and tend to have a flatter taste than the other sweet varieties.
Bitter oranges (Citrus aurantium), contrary to what their name might suggest, have multiple culinary uses.
Health Benefits of Oranges
Oranges may be commonplace, but they are nutrient-dense and thus have various beneficial effects on general health.
1. Antioxidant properties
Oranges are well known for their vitamin C content and with good reason. One medium orange contains 100% of your daily needs for this powerful nutrient. (3)
Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants. It helps repair damage in the body, ward off disease, and boost the immune system. These bright fruits are also good sources of B vitamins such as thiamin, pyridoxine, and folate. (4)
2. Benefits to cardiovascular health
The vitamin C in oranges helps reduce plaque formation in the arteries. It also improves nitric oxide production, enhances vasodilation, and improves heart health.
Studies have shown that orange juice consumption may protect heart health by increasing the amount of circulating antioxidants and lowering the amount of damage to lipid cells. (5)(6)
The flavanone hesperidin found in oranges may help lower both cholesterol levels and blood pressure. However, current studies have shown that oranges and orange juice have both positive and negative effects on cholesterol levels. (7)(8)
ALSO READ: 13 Foods That Keep Your Heart Healthy
Other Health Benefits
Besides being good sources of antioxidants and improving cardiovascular health, oranges can also help:
- Reduce the risk of certain kinds of cancer (9)
- Prevent kidney stone formation (10)(11)
- Prevent aging by quenching free radicals – One study found that the Naragi or Santra orange (C. reticulata Blanco) and its peel can be used effectively in anti-wrinkle skincare products. (12)
- Lower the risk of asthma (13)
- Reduce the risk of scurvy – Scurvy occurs due to a deficiency in vitamin C for 3 months or longer
Anatomy of Oranges
Oranges are usually 2–3 inches in diameter and contain a pulpy, juicy flesh beneath a thick, textured skin.
The peel of the orange is made up of a thin outer layer called the flavedo, which contains carotenoids that give the orange peel its characteristic color. The thick inner layer is called the albedo, which contains flavonoids that may influence the flavor of the fruit’s juice.
The pulp, or endocarp, is the part that is most often consumed and makes up about 80% of the fruit’s weight. It contains the orange segments – the juice sacks and seeds.
The oil from oranges is distilled from the peel. Its aroma is bright, lively, fruity, and sweet. The oil may be used to get relief from bronchitis, colds, constipation, flu, flatulence, poor circulation, dull skin, and stress.
Orange Juice or Whole Orange?
Orange juice is a good source of potassium, folate, and magnesium. (14) Drinking orange juice can help you meet your daily recommended fruit intake. (15) However, when the fruit is pressed and squeezed to collect the juice, some of the nutrients are lost, including the water-soluble vitamins and fibers.
Moreover, the powerful flavonoids are found in the white pulpy part and pith of the orange. When the orange is eaten whole, many pieces of the white pulp and pith are consumed. When it is juiced, these parts are often discarded.
Proper Storage of Oranges
Choose oranges that are heavy and firm with fine skin texture. Like all fruits and vegetables, oranges should be washed before they are peeled or cut.
Oranges can be stored for up to 3 months at 52ºF or up to 5 months at 36ºF, making them a staple that can be enjoyed year-round. Coating oranges with a thin layer of polyethylene and wax emulsion can double their storage life.
Can You Eat Orange Peels and Seeds?
Orange peels tend to be bitter in flavor but can be eaten safely. Orange seeds may also be consumed.
The seeds of citrus fruits do contain small amounts of cyanide compounds, but the seeds of an average orange do not contain enough cyanide to be toxic or harmful. Orange seeds can be blended into smoothies, but it is best to avoid eating them if possible.
Safety of Eating Oranges
In general, oranges are safe to consume. While rare, orange and citrus allergies do exist. Symptoms include redness and swelling of the lips and gums; tingling and/or itching of the lips, tongue, and throat; and contact dermatitis. In very rare cases, citrus allergies can cause anaphylaxis.
One case report noted a young boy who developed food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome 1 to 2 hours after drinking orange juice. (16)
Oranges may be eaten on an empty stomach without a problem. Oranges are not considered to be keto-friendly, so individuals following a ketogenic diet may have a hard time fitting them into their meal plan.
Potential Drug Interactions
Depending on the medication’s active ingredient, orange juice can reduce the efficacy of a drug or can create potentially dangerous drug levels in the body.
- Orange and apple juices may lower the absorption of the anti-cancer agent etoposide and some beta-blockers such as atenolol, celiprolol, and talinol.
- The absorption of some antibiotics, including ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, and itraconazole, may also be affected.
- If you take an ACE inhibitor, such as captopril, lisinopril, and enalapril, avoid consuming too many oranges or too much orange juice.
- Overconsumption of oranges, which are rich in potassium, may lead to a buildup of potassium in the bloodstream. (17)
Talk with your physician or pharmacist about consuming citrus fruits while on medication.
Expert Answers (Q&A)
Answered by Ms. Brierley Horton, MS, RD
There isn’t a “right” or “wrong” time of the day to eat oranges. Enjoy them with any meal that you desire or as a snack.
Too much vitamin C, which oranges are rich in, can upset your stomach.
Yes, it is.
Oranges are a great source of vitamin C, a nutrient that keeps the immune system humming along, keeps the skin healthy, and potentially helps to ward off wrinkles.
They also deliver ample fiber and potassium – two key nutrients that people fall short of regularly.
Oranges are nutrient-rich fruits that provide a large dose of vitamin C, as well as other vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Because of their nutrient profile, oranges should be included in a healthy diet to help prevent disease and to enjoy a healthy immune system and glowing skin.
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