Health Benefits Of Oranges

By:    Published: February 2, 2012

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Oranges have almost become synonymous with healthy diets and longevity. Combining vitamin C, dietary fiber and powerful antioxidants, the orange fruit is a powerhouse against free-radicals that cause cancers, and strengthens the immune system against infections, allergies, the common cold and the flu. Below are some of the health benefits of oranges.

Cardiovascular System Protection

Vitamin C, which is abundant in oranges, has been shown to be an effective blood detoxifier. It can help decrease plaque adherence to artery walls, thus decreasing the chances of stroke. Vitamin C also lowers blood pressure, which in turn, help the cardiovascular system ward off life-threatening diseases, such as heart attacks and atherosclerosis. Orange peel and zest have also been found to lower cholesterol levels in the body.

Gastrointestinal Tract Protection

Due to its high fiber content, oranges can help protect the gastrointestinal tract, which consists of the stomach, intestines and colon, against many medical conditions. Not only can it relieve constipation and diarrhea, it can also help treat symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Studies have also shown that its antioxidant properties, combined with dietary fiber, can help prevent colon cancer and decrease the risk of mouth, esophageal, and stomach cancers by 40 to 50 percent. Eating an orange a day may also help prevent the formation of stomach ulcers.

Respiratory Health Protection

A carotenoid found in oranges has been linked to protection against lung cancer. Studies have shown that smokers who ate an orange a day have a 37 percent lower risk of lung cancer than smokers who do not consume oranges. The high level of vitamin C present in this fruit is also proven to protect the mucus membranes of the respiratory tract and lining of the lungs.

Interesting Health Facts about Oranges

  • One medium orange has roughly the same amount of fiber as seven cups of corn flakes.
  • Since oranges help keep blood sugar levels under control, it is a great snack option for diabetics.
  • Consuming one medium orange a day can generally meet the recommended daily intake for vitamin C.
  • Oranges are a common sailor's remedy to prevent and treat scurvy on long voyages, due to its high vitamin C content.
  • Oranges are classified into sweet and bitter. Sweet oranges are used for consumption while bitter oranges are often used for jam, marmalade or flavoring hard liqueurs.
  • Oranges are the largest citrus crop in the world.

Vitamins and Minerals in Oranges

Vitamins and minerals found in oranges include:

  • Vitamin C: vital in strengthening the immune system and protecting the body against the common cold and the flu. It is also a potent antioxidant that can help with cancer prevention, vision protection and cardiovascular health maintenance.
  • Vitamin B1: also known as thiamin, acts as a protector of the heart, muscles and nervous system. Like niacin, it also helps convert food into energy.
  • Folate: a very important nutrient for pregnancy and infancy, since it helps in cell production and maintenance. Since doctors often recommend pregnant women to increase their folate intake, oranges can be an excellent source.
  • Vitamin A: typically associated with carrots, and is known to maintain healthy vision. Its derivative, retinol, is famous for its skin wrinkle fighting properties.
  • Calcium: known to strengthen and build strong bones and teeth.
  • Potassium: vital in the monitoring of fluid and electrolyte balance in the body, as well as ensuring normal growth of muscles, nerve and the brain.
  • Vitamin B2: also known as riboflavin, can metabolize fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
  • Vitamin B3: also known as niacin, this vitamin is vital in the skin, digestive and nervous system, and research has shown it may help prevent Alzheimer's disease, help convert food to energy, and promote skin repair.
  • Vitamin B5: also known as pantothenic acid, important in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
  • Vitamin B6: this vitamin helps with the metabolism of protein and red blood cells, and may prevent heart disease.
  • Magnesium: this super mineral has multiple supporting functions, including maintaining a healthy immune system, normal blood pressure and strong bones. It can also reduce inflammation and help prevent diabetes by regulating blood sugar levels.

Adding Oranges to Your Diet

Fortunately, there is a number of ways to incorporate this tasty fruit into your diet. Since orange juice is so readily available in the supermarket, the easiest method is to add a glass of orange juice with your breakfast, or as a refreshing drink anytime throughout the day. Look for high pulp contents when shopping for orange juice for a boost in fiber intake. Orange juice can further serve as an effective de-glazer when cooking, and is a bright addition for sauces, marinades and stews. Orange jam or marmalade is delicious on toast or on top of a yogurt parfait. The fruit, by itself, is a handy snack that can be readily eaten anytime, anywhere. Next time, you can add orange sections to your favorite salad for a juicy burst, or mix some fresh-squeezed orange juice with olive oil and a little salt and pepper for a delicious salad dressing.

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