Oranges are among the world’s most popular fruits. They grow on orange trees (Citrus x sinensis) and belong to a large group of fruits known as citrus fruits. Their true origin is a mystery, but the cultivation of oranges is thought to have started in eastern Asia thousands of years ago.
Today, they are grown in most warm regions of the world and consumed either fresh or as juice. Oranges are a healthy source of fiber, vitamin C, thiamine, folate, and antioxidants and they have multiple health benefits.
Oranges are mainly composed of carbs and water, with very little protein and fat and few calories. Simple sugars — such as glucose, fructose, and sucrose — are the dominant form of carbs in oranges. They are responsible for the fruit’s sweet taste.
Despite their sugar content, oranges have a low glycemic index (GI) of 31–51. Glycemic index is a measure of how quickly sugar enters your bloodstream after a meal. Low GI values are associated with numerous health benefits. Oranges’ low GI is explained by their high polyphenol and fiber content, which moderates the rise in blood sugar.
They are a good source of fiber. One large orange (184 grams) packs around 18% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI). The main fibers found in oranges are pectin, cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. Dietary fiber is associated with many beneficial health effects, including improved digestive health, weight loss, and cholesterol
Vitamins and minerals
Oranges are a good source of several vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C, thiamine, folate, and potassium. They are an excellent source of vitamin C. One large orange provides over 100% of the RDI. Thiamine, also called vitamin B1, and folate, also known as vitamin B9 or folic acid can be found in a wide variety of foods and they have many essential functions in the body.
Oranges are also a good source of potassium. High intake of potassium can lower blood pressure in people who already have high levels and may reduce your risk of heart disease.
Here are the nutrients in about half of a large orange (100 grams):
- Calories: 47
- Water: 87%
- Protein: 0.9 grams
- Carbs: 11.8 grams
- Sugar: 9.4 grams
- Fiber: 2.4 grams
- Fat: 0.1 grams
Human and animal studies indicate that regular consumption of oranges is beneficial for health. You can benefit your body in a number of ways by simply adding orange to your diet. Let us take a look at some of the ways that oranges help our body’s health, perhaps it will help you in making your decision to make oranges part of your diet.
- Improve Heart health : Heart disease is currently the world’s most common cause of premature death. Flavonoids — especially hesperidin — in oranges may have protective effects against heart disease. Clinical studies in humans note that daily intake of orange juice for four weeks has a blood-thinning effect and may reduce blood pressure significantly . Fibers also seem to play a role. Intake of isolated fibers from citrus fruits has been shown to decrease blood cholesterol levels . Taken together, it is likely that regular consumption of oranges may help lower your risk of heart disease.
- Kidney stone prevention : Oranges are a good source of citric acid and citrates, which are believed to help prevent kidney stone formation. Potassium citrate is often prescribed to patients with kidney stones. Citrates in oranges seem to have similar effects.
- Anemia prevention : Anemia is a condition characterized by low levels of red blood cells or hemoglobin, decreasing its ability to carry oxygen. It is often caused by iron deficiency. Although oranges are not a good source of iron, they are an excellent source of organic acids, such as vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and citric acid. Both vitamin C and citric acid can increase your body’s absorption of iron from the digestive tract. When eaten with iron-rich food, oranges may help prevent anemia.
- Reduce oxidative stress : Vitamin C works as an antioxidant in the body to help clear the harmful free radicals accumulated in the body due to oxidative stress. Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C. One orange offers 116.2 per cent of the daily value for vitamin C. Good intake of vitamin C is associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer as it helps to get rid of free radicals that cause damage to our DNA.
- Healthy immune system : Vitamin C, which is also vital for the proper function of a healthy immune system, is good for preventing colds and preventing recurrent ear infections.
- Prevents skin damage : Anti-oxidants in oranges help protect skin from free radical damage known to cause signs of aging. An orange a day can help you look young even at 50!
- Keeps blood pressure under check : Oranges, being rich in Vitamins B6, help support the production of haemoglobin and also help keep blood pressure under check due to the presence of magnesium.
- Lowers cholesterol : According to a study by US and Canadian researchers, a class of compounds found in citrus fruit peels called Polymethoxylated Flavones (PMFs) have the potential to lower cholesterol more effectively than some prescription drugs without side effects.
- Controls blood sugar level : Fibre in oranges help by keeping blood sugar levels under control thereby making oranges a healthy snack for people with diabetes. Moreover, oranges have simple sugars. The natural fruit sugar in oranges, fructose, can help keep blood sugar levels from rising too high after eating. Its glycemic index is 40 and normally whatever foods fall under 50 are considered to be low in sugar. However, that does not mean you go about eating too many oranges in one go. Eating too much can spike insulin and may even lead to weight gain.
- Lowers the risk of cancer : They contain D- limonene, a compound that is touted to prevent cancers like lung cancer, skin cancer and even breast cancer. Vitamin C and antioxidants present in oranges are both important to build the body’s immunity – they help in fighting cancer. The fibrous nature of the fruit also makes it cancer protective. According to a study, up to 15 per cent of cancer cases happen because of mutations in the DNA, which can be prevented with Vitamin C.
- Alkalizes the body : While the basic nature of oranges is acidic before you actually digest them, they have a lot of alkaline minerals that play a role in the process of digestion. This property of oranges is similar to that of lemons, which are without doubt among the most alkaline foods.
- Good eye health : Oranges are also a source of carotenoid. The Vitamin A present in them play an important role in keeping the mucus membranes in the eyes healthy. Vitamin A is also responsible to prevent age-related mascular degeneration, which in extreme cases can lead to blindness. It also helps eyes to absorb the light.
- Safeguards against constipation : Oranges have both soluble and insoluble fibre. This helps in keeping your intestines and stomach function smooth, preventing irritable bowel syndrome. Additionally, the fibre helps treat constipation to a greater extent.