Oranges: Not Just for Vitamin C
What’s tangy, sweet, healthy, and a favorite for both kids and adults to snack on? Oranges! There are plenty of reasons why we are encouraged to consume at least one orange a day. People prefer snacking on oranges or adding them to smoothies as they’re relatively easy to eat. Just peel and immediately enjoy!
Researchers believe that oranges originated in Southeast Asia around 4000 BC. From there they spread to India, where European traders were then exposed to the fruit. These sweet oranges were then introduced to Europe in the fifteenth century. Afterward, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon brought oranges to Florida in the sixteenth century. Finally, Spanish missionaries were responsible for the introduction of oranges to California in the eighteenth century.
Nutrition Content of Oranges
A single orange contains over 170 various phytochemicals and more than 60 flavonoids.
Specifically, this citrus fruit provides the human body with energy, dietary fiber, healthy carbs, as well as protein. In addition, it’s low in calories and has zero saturated fats, cholesterol, or sodium.
For the vitamins, it has a very high vitamin C content. It also possesses folates, niacin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamin A. And for the minerals, it boasts of potassium, copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, and zinc.
Benefits of Oranges
Since this fruit is packed with lots of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, it’s no surprise that it can provide your body with a number of benefits. Check out a few of them below.
Helps with the Heart
The fiber content in oranges lowers cholesterol levels. What it does is it carries excess cholesterol compounds in the gut, and then pushes them out during the elimination process.
Other compounds contribute to heart health too, like potassium. It allows electricity to flow through your body, which ensures that your heart keeps on beating. If you have low levels of potassium, you could develop an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia).
Oranges are also high in folate, which lowers homocysteine levels (a cardiovascular risk factor). And finally, these fruits also have flavonoids that regulate high blood pressure.
The vitamin C content in oranges helps in lowering the risk of colon cancer. What it does is it prevents DNA mutations from taking place. High fiber intake also shows a connection to a lesser likelihood of developing colorectal cancer.
Also, a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology shows that regularly taking in bananas, oranges, and orange juice in the first 2 years of life reduces the risk of childhood leukemia.
In fact, this simple fruit is abundant in citrus limonoids, which are proven to help fight against a number of cancers. These include breast, lung, stomach, colon, liver, and skin.
Aids in Diabetes
According to the American Diabetes Association, oranges are one of the top superfoods for people with diabetes. Their high fiber content lowers blood sugar levels in people with type 1 diabetes. Fiber also improves blood sugar, insulin, and lipid levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Encourages a Healthy Digestion
The fiber in this citrus fruit aids in digestion by stimulating digestive juices and making sure you have regular bowel movements. The fiber adds bulk to the digested food and reduces the transit time of the waste. This prevents digestive issues, like constipation, bloating, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Stomach ulcers are painful, excruciating sores that from inside your stomach and mess up your digestive system. That’s where the high vitamin C content comes in. According to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, people with high vitamin C diets were less likely to develop these stomach ulcers.
Toughens Up Immunity
Due to its high vitamin C content, oranges are a great addition do the daily diet when you get sick. Vitamin C protects the body’s cells by scavenging and neutralizing harmful free radicals. It also boosts a person’s immune system when dealing with everyday viruses and infections.
Boosts Brain Development
The folate and folic acid content in oranges promote proper brain development and ensures that it stays in tip-top condition. For pregnant women, eating this fruit is helpful as it has compounds that prevents the baby from having neurological issues later.
In addition, this fruit contains polyphenols, which are vital in the development of learning and memory functions of the brain.
Improves Eye Health
The American Optometric Association states that vitamin C reduces the risk of cataracts and also slows down the progression of macular degeneration. Oranges also have carotenoid compounds, which prevent age-related macular degeneration. This is an incurable eye condition that blurs central vision and could lead to blindness. And lastly, vitamin A helps your eyes absorb light. How? It keeps the membranes surrounding your eyes healthy. This improves night vision as well.
Promotes Healthier Skin
Vitamin C protects the skin by fighting against skin damage due to pollution and too much sun exposure. This vitamin is very necessary in collagen production, and it also reduces wrinkles and can improve the skin’s overall texture and appearance, making you look younger than you actually are.
Word of Caution
Like with a lot of things, make sure to take oranges in moderation. If you eat too much, there will be some upsetting side effects. For example, having too much of the fiber content will affect digestion. This causes abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
Also, eating several fruits in just one day may lead to weight gain. And yes, there’s a such a thing as having too much vitamin C. If you take in more than 2,000mg of the vitamin in a day, it will cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, insomnia, or even kidney stones.
Here are some random facts about oranges that you probably didn’t know. Go ahead and amaze your friends and family with these tidbits.
- The orange is a hybrid of the pomelo and the tangerine.
- Oranges are actually modified berries.
- The actual fruit came before the color. The word orange comes from the Arabic naranj. It was in 1542 that the word orange was first used as the name of a color.
- A typical orange has 10 segments.
- Around 85 percent of all oranges produced are for orange juice.