Oranges are some of the most popular fruits in the world, and with good reason, due to their versatility and impressive health benefits.
What are Oranges?
Oranges are the hybrid citrus fruit scientifically known as Citrus x sinensis and are actually a cross between the pomelo and mandarin fruit. Also commonly known as a “sweet orange”, it is the most widely cultivated fruit tree in the world. Bearing a sweet, juicy fruit inside a firm orange rind and a layer of white pith, oranges are storehouses of nutrition and other active ingredients that can benefit the body in many ways. In cultivation for roughly 4,500 years, these fruits remain a favorite around the world, both for its versatility and nutrient density.
Types of Oranges
The most popular types of oranges are the following:
- Blood oranges
- Navel oranges
- Acidless oranges
- Common Oranges
Let us discuss them in detail below.
- Blood Orange: Owing to a mutation of the original species, this variety has darker flesh and juice, as well as a richer taste, thanks to a higher concentration of anthocyanins.
- Navel Orange: This slightly smaller variety is classified by the growth of a second fruit, which often grows on one side, producing a bump or a “navel”. These fruits produce less juice and are often eaten as a slightly tangy/bitter snack.
- Common Orange: Making up about 2/3 or all orange production, these include Valencia, Hamlin, Jaffa, Kona, and dozens of other popular varieties.
- Acidless Orange: Lacking the characteristic acidity of other varieties, this variety is often considered the sweetest variety of orange and is primarily eaten, rather than used for juicing.
In terms of nutrition, oranges possess roughly 60 calories in a medium-sized fruit, along with nearly 95% of your daily requirement for vitamin C. These fruits also have high levels of fiber, vitamin B, folate, and potassium, as well as other flavonoids, anthocyanins, and polyphenolic compounds, all of which behave as antioxidants in the body. A 60-calorie orange will also have roughly 15 grams of carbohydrates, most of which come from sugars, in addition to a very small amount of protein.
Benefits of Oranges
The top benefits of oranges include the following:
- Preventing cancer
- Lowering cholesterol
- Preventing kidney disease
- Improving vision health
- Skin care
- Reducing risk of diabetes
- Treating viral infections
Let us discuss them in detail below.
By improving potassium levels and lowering blood pressure, this fruit can help minimize strain on the kidneys and prevent kidney disease.
The high levels of ascorbic acid and fiber in oranges allow them to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol, which is how plaque buildup occurs, leading to atherosclerosis and a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and coronary heart diseases.
Eating these citrus fruits are known to kickstart the immune system, and there are many studies focusing on the specific antiviral and antibiotic properties of the volatile acids contained in oranges.
Polyphenolic compounds, flavonones, and other antioxidants help to eliminate chronic inflammation and mitigate the effects of free radicals, which can lead to various chronic diseases.
Good fiber levels can stimulate peristaltic motion and improve your general digestive efficiency, preventing symptoms of constipation.
Fiber is known to control the release of insulin and blood glucose, which is good news for diabetic patients when these fruits are consumed in moderation.
Despite being a highly acidic fruit, when the body metabolizes many of these acids, it actually has an alkalizing effect on the overall pH of the body.
How to Incorporate More Oranges in Your Diet?
Adding more of this fruit to your diet should be quite simple, given that these citrus fruits are relatively inexpensive and very versatile.
- You can squeeze the fruits to make a tangy and acidic fruit juice, or slice an orange and add it to the top of your salad.
- Some people separate their oranges into its different quadrants and then eat them after removing the white pith.
These aren’t ideal for fruit smoothies, due to the fibrous nature of pith, but they make great snacks that you can carry around all day until you want an energy boost.
How to Select and Store Oranges?
Selecting and storing this fruit is important, particularly if you want to enjoy oranges all year long, even when they are out of season.
- When choosing an orange, pick one that feels heavy for its size, which indicates that it is full of juice and close to ripe.
- Avoid any oranges that have soft spots or obvious bruising.
- The color is not always a great indicator of ripeness, as some oranges are artificially colored to improve their appearance.
- Depending on which variety of orange you are eating, the ideal season will typically range from December until April.
- When storing this fruit, an uncut orange can retain its nutrient content and flavor for up to two weeks in the refrigerator, whereas it will start to soften or lose nutritive value after only 3-4 days on the counter.
- If you want to use an orange for its rind or zest, that zest can be removed and dried, where it will stay viable for up to 6 months.
Side Effects of Oranges
There are only a few risks when consuming this citrus fruit, and negative reactions typically only happen when consuming excessive amounts. Eating too many oranges can exacerbate heartburn and gastrointestinal issues, among others.
- Stomach: With high amounts of fiber, eating too many oranges can lead to constipation, diarrhea or general stomach upset.
- Heartburn: These fruits have a high acidity content, which can exacerbate symptoms of heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
- Kidney Ailment: If you are taking medication for high blood pressure, in addition to eating a lot of oranges, your potassium levels could rise too high, which poses a threat to kidney health.