Oranges are popular citrus fruits that are produced all over the world. People often enjoy eating them sliced or juicing them for a breakfast beverage. Thanks to their multiple essential nutrients, oranges can provide many boosts to your overall health. Want to get more of these fruits in your weekly menu? Learn more about the nutritious elements of oranges and some of the health benefits of adding oranges to a balanced diet.
What Are the Main Health Benefits of Oranges?
Vitamins and Minerals Found in Oranges
The humble orange is actually a potent nutritional powerhouse packed with beneficial vitamins and minerals. When you consume oranges, you can expect to get the following:
- Vitamin C: Plays a vital role in wound healing, iron absorption and protection against free radicals that may increase your the risk of cancer and heart disease
- Vitamin B1: Also known as thiamine; acts as a protector of the nervous system and helps convert carbohydrates into energy
- Folate: A very important nutrient during pregnancy and infancy that helps in cell production and maintenance
- Vitamin B6: Supports nerve and skin cell development
- Vitamin B5: Also known as pantothenic acid; important in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats
- Calcium: Strengthens bones and teeth
- Potassium: Vital in maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance in your body and in ensuring healthy function of your muscles and heart
- Vitamin B2: Also known as riboflavin; can metabolize proteins and help with red blood cell production
- Magnesium: Helps maintain a healthy immune system, blood pressure levels, blood sugar levels and strong bones
- Vitamin A: Helps maintain healthy vision and cell and immune functions
Because of oranges’ high vitamin C content, these fruits are an excellent way to get this necessary vitamin that your body can’t produce on its own. Vitamin C is an antioxidant. This means that it can help protect your body against the buildup of free radicals, which can lead to cell damage in the form of aging or disease progression. When you consume it as part of a balanced diet, increasing your vitamin C intake by eating oranges may help protect you from developing certain diseases.
GI Tract Protection
Due to their high fiber content, oranges can help protect your gastrointestinal (GI) tract — which consists of your stomach, intestines and colon — against many medical conditions. Eating the flesh of oranges is the best way to increase your fiber intake using these fruits. It also helps support your digestive system’s healthy functioning. In addition, flavonoids present in orange peels have been shown to help prevent stomach ulcers in rats.
Blood Sugar Maintenance
Oranges are a low-calorie food and contain carbohydrates that our bodies break down to use for quick energy. They’re also classified as a low glycemic index food, which means that they’re less likely to cause a spike in your blood sugar levels after digestion. For this reason, oranges can be a safe snack for people who have diabetes or those who experience difficulty with blood sugar control. Oranges can be a good source of energy without causing a sugar crash, too.
Adding Oranges to Your Diet
Fortunately, there’s a number of ways to incorporate this tasty fruit into your diet and enjoy the many health benefits that oranges provide. Because orange juice is so widely available in most supermarkets, one option is to add a glass of orange juice with your breakfast or enjoy it as a refreshing drink anytime throughout the day. Look for a blend with high pulp content when you’re shopping for orange juice; this can give you a boost in fiber intake.
Orange juice can further serve as an effective de-glazer when you’re cooking and as a sweet addition to 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 you can eat anytime and anywhere.
You can also try adding orange sections to your favorite salad for a juicy burst or mix some freshly squeezed orange juice with olive oil and a little salt and pepper for a delicious salad dressing. All of these methods of adding oranges to your diet will help you consume a variety of nutrients and can improve your health overall.
Medical content reviewed by Madeline Hubbard, RN, BSN