Health Benefits Of Oranges

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Introduction

Oranges are popular citrus fruits that are known for their sweet and tangy flavour as well as their numerous health benefits. They are low in calories, high in fibre and packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help to promote good health and prevent diseases. One of the most important of these nutrients is vitamin C, a type of micronutrient that dissolves in water and acts as an antioxidant helping to protect cells from damage done by free radicals. Free radicals are naturally occurring, unstable molecules that can cause harm to the genetic material (DNA) within cells, leading to mutations that can increase the risk of cancer. Vitamin C works by neutralising these free radicals and preventing DNA damage, thereby reducing the risk of cancerous growth. Having said that, oranges are a treasure trove of nutrients that contain many compounds beneficial to human health. This article will explain everything you need to know about oranges, the nutrients they contain, the potential benefits of eating oranges and more. 

About oranges

Oranges belong to the citrus family and are cultivated on trees. While they were originally grown in China, nowadays, they are cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions across the globe.1 These fruits are highly nutritious and beneficial for health.

Oranges are popular fruits that have been consumed for centuries and recent research continues to support their numerous health benefits. For example, one study found that consuming oranges and other citrus fruits may help to reduce the risk of stroke in people assigned female at birth (AFAB). The researchers followed over 69,000 people AFAB for more than 14 years and found that those who consumed the most citrus fruits had a lower risk of stroke compared to those who consumed the least.2 Another recent study found that regularly consuming oranges and other foods containing flavonoids (chemicals with antioxidant properties present in plants) may help to reduce the risk of heart disease. The study followed over 50,000 people for more than 20 years and found that those who consumed the most flavonoid-rich foods had a lower risk of heart disease compared to those who consumed the least.3 

Oranges are also a rich source of vitamin C, which was shown to have numerous health benefits, including boosting the immune system and promoting healthy skin. A study suggests that vitamin C may also have a role in preventing and treating respiratory infections, including the common cold.4

Overall, oranges are a delicious and nutritious fruit that can provide a range of health benefits. From reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease to boosting the immune system, oranges are a great addition to a healthy diet.

Health benefits of oranges

Here is an overview of some of the health benefits of oranges: 

  • High in Vitamin C: Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C which is crucial for immune system function, wound healing and the production of collagen5
  • Antioxidant properties: Oranges contain antioxidants like flavonoids, carotenoids, and vitamin C, which, according to research help to protect the body's cells from damage caused by free radicals6
  • Cardiovascular health: Oranges contain a compound known as hesperidin which, according to research, can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.7 Oranges also contain potassium, which is important for heart health and can also help to lower blood pressure. In addition, studies have found that including citrus in your diet can protect against cardiovascular disease by reducing oxidative damage and inflammation and improving the health of blood vessels8 
  • Digestive health: Oranges are a good source of fibre, which can help to promote bowel movement regularity and prevent constipation9
  • Cancer prevention: The antioxidants in oranges may also help to prevent the formation of cancerous cells10
  • Skin health: Vitamin C in oranges is important for the production of collagen, which helps to keep skin looking young and healthy11
  • Eye health: Oranges contain carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for eye health and can help to prevent age-related eye diseases like macular degeneration12

Nutrients we can get from oranges

Oranges are a rich source of nutrients that are important for overall health and well-being. Here are some of the key nutrients found in oranges:

  1. Vitamin C: Oranges are perhaps best known for their high vitamin C content. This vitamin is an essential nutrient that plays a key role in immune function, wound healing, and collagen synthesis6
  2. Fibre: Oranges are also a good source of fibre, which is important for digestive health and can help to lower cholesterol levels. Consuming a high-fibre diet can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes13
  3. Potassium: Oranges contain potassium, which is important for heart health and can help to lower blood pressure. One study even found that higher potassium intake was associated with a lower risk of stroke9
  4. Flavonoids: Oranges contain flavonoids like hesperidin and naringenin, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Research suggests that consuming orange juice high in flavonoids improves cognitive function in healthy adults14
  5. Carotenoids: Oranges also contain carotenoids like beta-carotene and lutein, which are important for eye health. Research suggests that consuming a high-carotenoid diet was associated with a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration12

To summarise, these are the nutritional values of an orange

  • 60 calories
  • No fat
  • 3 grams of fibre
  • 15 grams of carbohydrates
  • 12 grams of sugar
  • 1 gram of protein
  • 14 micrograms of vitamin A (2% of daily recommended amount*)
  • 70 milligrams of vitamin C (175% of daily recommended amount*)
  • 60 milligrams of calcium (8.5% of daily recommended amount*)
  • 230 milligrams of potassium (6.5% of daily recommended amount*)
  • No sodium

 * daily recommended amounts are based on NHS guidelines 

Ways to include oranges in our diet

There are many easy and delicious ways to include oranges in your diet. You could try the following strategies: 

Have it as a snack: Oranges are perfect for a quick and healthy snack. They are easy to peel and can be eaten on the go. Oranges are also low in calories, making them an excellent choice for weight-conscious people.

Make orange juice: Freshly squeezed orange juice is a great way to start your day. It is a great source of vitamin C, which can help boost your immune system. However, be mindful of the sugar content in store-bought orange juice. 

Add it to your salad: Oranges can add a tangy and sweet flavour to your salad. Slicing oranges and adding them to a bed of greens, along with some nuts and a light dressing, can make for a refreshing and healthy meal.

Make orange zest: Orange zest is the outermost layer of the orange peel and is packed with flavour. It can be used to add a citrusy kick to your baked goods, marinades and sauces.

Incorporate it into your main dish: Oranges can be used to add sweetness and acidity to your main dish. Try adding orange slices to your chicken or fish dish or make a delicious orange sauce to accompany your roasted vegetables.

How much is enough?

Having one medium-sized orange can be considered as one serving towards the recommended five portions of fruits and vegetables per day. Additionally, a 150 ml glass of unsweetened orange juice can also be counted as one portion. However, it is important to note that orange juice, like other juices, can only be counted as one serving regardless of how much you consume in a day, according to the NHS guidelines. The amount of oranges recommended for consumption varies depending on age, sex, and overall health. However, some general guidelines can be followed to ensure adequate intake of nutrients.

In terms of vitamin C intake, NHS recommends an intake of 40 milligrams per day for adults aged 19 to 64. One medium-sized orange contains approximately 70 milligrams of vitamin C, so consuming one orange a day is enough to meet your daily needs. Excess vitamin C cannot be stored in your body and will be excreted in urine.

It is worth noting that consuming too much vitamin C (over 1000 milligrams) from supplements can have negative health effects, such as gastrointestinal upset and kidney stones. Therefore, it is generally recommended to obtain vitamin C from food sources like oranges rather than supplements.

Overall, consuming one to two oranges per day can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet, providing important nutrients like vitamin C, fibre, and antioxidants.

Side effects of oranges

Oranges are generally considered safe for most people when consumed in moderation as part of a healthy diet. However, there are some potential side effects and precautions to be aware of.

One potential side effect of consuming oranges is an allergic reaction. Oranges contain proteins that can cause an allergic reaction in some people, particularly those with a history of allergies to other citrus fruits or pollen. Symptoms of an orange allergy can include hives, itching, swelling, and difficulty breathing. 

Another concern related to oranges is their high acidity content, which can cause acid reflux and heartburn in some people. This is especially true for those who consume large amounts of orange juice or eat oranges on an empty stomach.

Finally, some people may experience gastrointestinal discomfort or diarrhoea if they consume too many oranges or other high-fibre foods. It is important to note that these side effects are relatively rare, and most people can safely consume oranges as part of a healthy diet.

Summary

Oranges are citrus fruits that are rich in vitamin C and other important nutrients. Consuming oranges may provide numerous health benefits such as boosting the immune system, promoting heart health, reducing the risk of certain types of cancer, and improving skin health. Oranges may also help to regulate blood sugar levels, improve digestion, and support healthy brain function. Additionally, the antioxidants found in oranges may help to protect against oxidative stress and inflammation, which can contribute to the development of chronic diseases. Overall, incorporating oranges into your diet may be a simple and delicious way to support your overall health and well-being.

References

  1. Rao, M. J., Zuo, H., Xu, Q. Genomic insights into citrus domestication and its important agronomic traits. Plant Communications. 2021;2(1):100138. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xplc.2020.100138  
  2. Cassidy, A., Rimm, E. B., O'Reilly, É. J., Logroscino, G., Kay, C., Chiuve, S. E., et al. Dietary flavonoids and risk of stroke in women. Stroke. 2012; 43(4): 946–951. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1161/strokeaha.111.637835  
  3. Ivey, K. L., Jensen, M. K., Hodgson, J. M., Eliassen, A. H., Cassidy, A., Rimm, E. B. Association of flavonoid-rich foods and flavonoids with risk of all-cause mortality. British Journal of Nutrition. 2017;117(10): 1470–1477. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1017/s0007114517001325 
  4. Holford, P., Carr, A. C., Jovic, T. H., Ali, S. R., Whitaker, I. S., Marik, P. E., et al. Vitamin C—an adjunctive therapy for respiratory infection, sepsis and COVID-19. Nutrients. 2020; 12(12): 3760. Available from: https://doi.org/10.3390/nu1212376  
  5. Aune, D., Keum, N. N., Giovannucci, E., Fadnes, L. T., Boffetta, P., Greenwood, D. C., et al. Dietary intake and blood concentrations of antioxidants and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer, and all-cause mortality: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2018; 108(5): 1069–1091. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqy097
  6. Barreca, D., Gattuso, G., Bellocco, E., Calderaro, A., Trombetta, D., Smeriglio, A., et al. Flavanones: Citrus phytochemical with health-promoting properties. BioFactors. 2017; 43(4): 495–506. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1002/biof.1363 
  7. Testai, L., Calderone, V. Nutraceutical value of citrus flavanones and their implications in cardiovascular disease. Nutrients. 2017; 9(5): 502. Available from: https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9050502  
  8. Mahmoud, A. M., Hernández Bautista, R. J., Sandhu, M. A., Hussein, O. E. Beneficial effects of citrus flavonoids on cardiovascular and Metabolic Health. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2019;1–19. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/5484138  
  9. Castaño E, Piñuñuri R, Hirsch S, Ronco A.M. Folatos y Embarazo, conceptos actuales: ¿Es necesaria una suplementación con Acido Fólico? [Folate and Pregnancy, current concepts: Is folic acid supplementation required?]. Revista Chilena de Pediatria. 2017 ; 88(2): 199-206. Spanish.  Available from:  https://doi.org/10.4067/S0370-41062017000200001
  10. Wang, J., Gao, J., Xu, H.-li, Qian, Y., Xie, L., Yu, H., et al.Citrus fruit intake and lung cancer risk: A meta-analysis of observational studies. Pharmacological Research. 2021; 166: 105430.  Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2021.105430 
  11. Pullar, J., Carr, A., Vissers, M. The roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients. 2017; 9(8): 866.  Available from: https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9080866  
  12. Abdel-Aal, E.-S., Akhtar, H., Zaheer, K., Ali, R. Dietary sources of lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids and their role in Eye Health. Nutrients. 2013; 5(4): 1169–1185.  Available from: https://doi.org/10.3390/nu5041169 
  13. Soliman, G. A. Dietary fiber, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease. Nutrients. 2019; 11(5): 1155. Available from: https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11051155 
  14. Valls, R. M., Pedret, A., Calderón-Pérez, L., Llauradó, E., Pla-Pagà, L., Companys, J., et al. Effects of hesperidin in orange juice on blood and pulse pressures in mildly hypertensive individuals: A randomized controlled trial (citrus study). European Journal of Nutrition. 2020; 60(3): 1277–1288. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-020-02279-0  

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Karina Silova

MSc Molecular Medicine and BSc Biomedicine, University of East Anglia, UK

My background is in key areas of biomedical research focusing on diseases and their molecular pathways to understand their root cause. I specialise in epigenetics and reproductive health; I am passionate about understanding diseases and helping to bridge the gap between medical science and the general public with accurate and understandable content while educating the public about health and diseases.

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