13 Health Benefits of Oranges
1. Oranges contain phytochemicals that protect against cancer.
Oranges are rich in citrus limonoids, proven to help fight a number of varieties of cancerincluding that of the skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon.
2. Orange juice can help prevent kidney diseases.
Drinking orange juice regularly prevents kidney diseases and reduces the risk of kidney stones.
Note: drink juice in moderate amounts. The high sugar content of fruit juices can cause tooth decay and the high acid content can wear away enamel if consumed in excess.
3. Mandarin oranges fight liver cancer, according to studies.
According to two studies in Japan eating mandarin oranges reduces liver cancer. This may be due in part to vitamin A compounds known as carotenoids.
4. Oranges lower cholesterol.
Since they’re full of soluble fiber, oranges are helpful in lowering cholesterol.
5. They are rich in potassium and boost heart health.
Oranges are full of potassium, an electrolyte mineral responsible for helping the heart function well. When potassium levels get too low, you may develop an abnormal heart rhythm, known as an arrhythmia.
6. They lower the risk of diseases.
Oranges are full of vitamin C, which protects cells by neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals cause chronic diseases, like cancer and heart disease.
7. Oranges fight against viral infections.
Studies show that the abundance of polyphenols in oranges protects against viral infections.
8. They relieve constipation.
Oranges are full of dietary fiber which stimulates digestive juices and relieves constipation.
9. They aid in good eye health and protect vision.
Oranges are rich in carotenoid compounds which are converted to vitamin A and help prevent macular degeneration.
10. They regulate high blood pressure.
The flavonoid hesperidin found in oranges helps regulate high blood pressure and the magnesium in oranges helps maintain blood pressure.
11. They protect skin.
Oranges are full of beta-carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant that protects the cells from damage. Beta-carotene protects the skin from free radicals and helps prevent the signs of aging.
12. Oranges alkalize the body.
Although oranges are acidic before you digest them, they contain many alkaline minerals that help to balance out the body after they are digested. In this respect, they are similar to lemons, which are one of the most alkaline foods available.
13. Oranges provide smart carbs and do not cause a blood sugar spike.
Oranges like all fruits have simple sugars in them, but the orange has a glycemic index of 40. Anything under 55 is considered low. This means as long as you don’t eat too manyoranges at one time, they won’t spike your blood sugar and cause problems with insulin or weight gain.
Oranges have a wealth of nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin A precursors, calcium,potassium and pectin. For a complete list of its nutrients go to calories in an orange.
Juicy and sweet and renowned for its concentration of vitamin C, orangesmake the perfect snack and add a special tang to many recipes; it is no wonder that they are one of the most popular fruits in the world. Oranges are generally available from winter through summer with seasonal variations depending on the variety.
Oranges are round citrus fruits with finely-textured skins that are, of course, orange in color just like their pulpy flesh; the skin can vary in thickness from very thin to very thick. Oranges usually range from approximately two to three inches in diameter.
This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Oranges provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Oranges can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Oranges, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.
Oranges' Healing Phytonutrients
In recent research studies, the healing properties of oranges have been associated with a wide variety of phytonutrient compounds. These phytonutrients include citrus flavanones (types of flavonoids that include the molecules hesperetin and naringenin), anthocyanins, hydroxycinnamic acids, and a variety of polyphenols. When these phytonutrients are studied in combination withoranges—vitamin C, the significant antioxidant properties of this fruit are understandable.
But it is yet another flavanone in oranges, the herperidin molecule, which has been singled out in phytonutrient research on oranges. Arguably, the most important flavanone in oranges, herperidinhas been shown to lower high blood pressure as well as cholesterol in animal studies, and to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Importantly, most of this phytonutrient is found in the peel and inner white pulp of the orange, rather than in its liquid orange center, so this beneficial compound is too often removed by the processing of oranges into juice.
A Healthy Dose of Vitamin C for Antioxidant Protection and Immune Support
You may already know that oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C but do you know just how important vitamin C and oranges are for good health? Vitamin C is the primary water-soluble antioxidant in the body, disarming free radicals and preventing damage in the aqueous environment both inside and outside cells. Inside cells, a potential result of free radical damage to DNA is cancer. Especially in areas of the body where cellular turnover is especially rapid, such as the digestive system, preventing DNA mutations translates into preventing cancer. This is why a good intake of vitamin C is associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer.
Free radical damage to other cellular structures and other molecules can result in painful inflammation, as the body tries to clear out the damaged parts. Vitamin C, which prevents the free radical damage that triggers the inflammatory cascade, is thus also associated with reduced severity of inflammatory conditions, such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Free radicals also oxidize cholesterol. Only after being oxidized does cholesterol stick to the artery walls, building up in plaques that may eventually grow large enough to impede or fully block bloodflow, or rupture to cause a heart attack or stroke. Since vitamin C can neutralize free radicals, it can help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol.
Vitamin C, which is also vital for the proper function of a healthy immune system, is good for preventing colds and may be helpful in preventing recurrent ear infections.
A Glass of Orange Juice More Protective than Vitamin C Alone
Consuming vitamin C supplements does not provide the same protective benefits as drinking a glass of orange juice, shows research by Italian researchers in the Division of Human Nutrition at the University of Milan, Italy (Guarnieri S, Riso P, et al., British Journal of Nutrition).
Seven healthy test subjects were given each of three drinks, two weeks apart: blood-orange juice containing 150 milligrams of vitamin C, fortified water containing 150 milligrams of vitamin C, and a sugar and water solution containing no vitamin C. Blood samples were collected immediately before the drink was consumed, then every hour for 8 hours, and finally 24 hours after consumption of each drink.
Blood samples were exposed to hydrogen peroxide, and free radical damage to DNA was evaluated at 3 and 24 hours. Only when orange juice was consumed was any protective effect seen. After drinking orange juice, DNA damage was 18% less after 3 hours, and 16% less after 24 hours. No protection against DNA damage was seen after consumption of the vitamin C fortified drink or the sugar drink.
While another study, which looked at much larger quantities of vitamin C, did show a protective effect from the vitamin alone, this research indicates that not only is the protection afforded by fruitmore complex, but smaller amounts of nutrients like vitamin C are all that are needed for benefit.
Said lead researcher, Serena Guarnieri, "It appears that vitamin C is not the only chemical responsible for antioxidant protection." In oranges, vitamin C is part of a matrix involving many beneficial phytochemicals (for example, cyanidin-3-glucoside, flavanones and carotenoids)."But how they are interacting is still anyone's guess," she added. Fortunately, we don't have to wait until scientists figure this out to receive oranges' DNA-protective benefits. Practical Tip: For the best DNA protection, skip the vitamin C—fortified bottled drinks and enjoy a glass of real (preferablyorganic as organic foods have been shown to contain higher amounts of phytonutrients), freshly squeezed orange juice—or simply eat an orange!
Owing to the multitude of vitamin C's health benefits, it is not surprising that research has shown that consumption of vegetables and fruits high in this nutrient is associated with a reduced risk of death from all causes including heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Protection against Cardiovascular Disease
A 248-page report, "The Health Benefits of Citrus Fruits," released December 2003 by Australian research group, CSIRO (The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research), reviews 48 studies that show a diet high in citrus fruit provides a statistically significant protective effect against some types of cancer, plus another 21 studies showing a non-significant trend towards protection.
Citrus appears to offer the most significant protection against esophageal, oro-phayngeal/laryngeal (mouth, larynx and pharynx), and stomach cancers. For these cancers, studies showed risk reductions of 40-50%.
The World Health Organization's recent draft report, "Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of ChronicDisease," concludes that a diet that features citrus fruits also offers protection against cardiovascular disease due to citrus fruits—folate, which is necessary for lowering levels of the cardiovascular risk factor, homocysteine; their, potassium, which helps lower blood pressure, protecting against stroke and cardiac arrhythmias; and the vitamin C, carotenoids and flavonoids found in citrus fruits, all of which have been identified as having protective cardiovascular effects.
One large US study reviewed in the CSIRO report showed that one extra serving of fruit andvegetables a day reduced the risk of stroke by 4%, and this increased by 5-6 times for citrus fruits, reaching a 19% reduction of risk for stroke from consuming one extra serving of citrus fruit a day.
The CSIRO Report also includes evidence of positive effects associated with citrus consumption in studies for arthritis, asthma, Alzheimer's disease and cognitive impairment, Parkinson's disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, gallstones, multiple sclerosis, cholera, gingivitis, optimal lung function, cataracts, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
Finally, the CSIRO Report notes that as low fat, nutrient-rich foods with a low glycemic index, citrus fruits are protective against overweight and obesity, conditions which increase the risk of heartdisease, certain cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke, and add to symptoms of other conditions like arthritis.
An orange has over 170 different phytonutrients and more than 60 flavonoids, many of which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour and blood clot inhibiting properties, as well as strong antioxidant effects.
Phytonutrients, specifically, the class of polyphenols, are high in citrus with oranges containing 84mg Gallic Acid equivalents/100mg. The polyphenols so abundant in oranges have been shown to have a wide range of antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative and anti-carcinogenic effects. Although most of the research has centered on citrus polyphenols—possible role in cancer and heart disease, more recently, scientists have begun to look at their role in brain functions such as learning and memory.
An increasing number of studies have also shown a greater absorption of the nutrients in citrus when taken not as singly as supplements, but when consumed within the fruit in which they naturally appear along with all the other biologically active phytonutrients that citrus fruits contain.
Long-Acting Liminoids in Citrus Add to Their Ability to Promote Optimal Health
In animal studies and laboratory tests with human cells, compounds in citrus fruits, includingoranges, called limonoids have been shown to help fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon. Now, scientists from the US Agricultural Research Service have shown that our bodies can readily absorb and utilize a very long-acting limonoid called limonin that is present is citrus fruits in about the same amount as vitamin C.
In citrus fruits, limonin is present in the form of limonin glucoside, in which limonin is attached to a sugar (glucose) molecule. Our bodies easily digest this compound, cleaving off the sugar and releasing limonin.
In the ARS study, 16 volunteers were given a dose of limonin glucoside in amounts ranging from those that would be found in from 1 to 7 glasses of orange juice. Blood tests showed that limonin was present in the plasma of all except one of the subjects, with concentrations highest within 6 hours after consumption. Traces of limonin were still present in 5 of the volunteers 24 hours after consumption!
Limonin's bioavailability and persistence may help explain why citrus limonoids are potent anti-carcinogens that may continuously prevent cancerous cells from proliferating. Other natural anti-carcinogens are available for much less time; for example, the phenols in green tea and chocolate remain active in the body for just 4 to 6 hours.
Possible Cholesterol-Lowering Benefits
The ARS team is now investigating the potential cholesterol-lowering effects of limonin. Lab tests indicate that human liver cells produce less apo B when exposed to limonin. Apo B is a structural protein that is part of the LDL cholesterol molecule and is needed for LDL production, transport and binding, so higher levels of apo B translate to higher levels of LDL cholesterol.