From helping in collagen synthesis to reducing high blood pressure, the benefits of oranges are endless. We tell you all about this superfood and its various uses, from eating to skincare.
One of the world’s most commonly consumed fruits, the orange technically belongs to a subtype of berry known as hesperidium. Native to South-Eastern Asia and cultivated since 2500 BC, the orange finds use worldwide as a snack, as a staple part of breakfast in the form of juice, and in recipes, extracts and preserves. They are excellent sources of fibre, Vitamin C, folate, thiamine, potassium and plant polyphenols, and have a wide range of health benefits.
1. Oranges are a great source of Vitamin C
One large orange (200g by weight) has 100 mg of Vitamin C, which is greater than 100 percent of the daily recommended intake (75 mg for women and 90 mg for men). Vitamin C’s role in supporting the immune system, its most commonly known benefit, is only one of the various ways it supports our overall health. Vitamin C helps in collagen synthesis, which plays a critical role in connective tissues like those found in the organs, and our hair, skin, and nails. According to research by the American Optometric Association, Vitamin C can lower the risk of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. It helps to reduce inflammation, and boosts the body’s ability to use stored fat as an energy source, helping in maintaining a healthy weight. It is also important for the production of serotonin, the hormone responsible for feelings of happiness and sleep.
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2. Oranges are high in dietary fibre
One small (120g) orange contains 3g of dietary fibre, about 10 percent of the daily recommended intake. Dietary fibre supports digestive function. Several studies show the importance of fibre in regulating and lowering the risk of diabetes. One 2019 study published in Diabetes and Metabolism Journal shows that dietary fibre improves the body’s insulin sensitivity, which helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Out of 3 grams of fibre present in an orange, 2g are water soluble, which helps in the reduction of visceral fat in the body, thus lowering the risk of obesity and high blood pressure.
3. Oranges supply some key nutrients like potassium, thiamine and folate
Oranges are rich in some important nutrients like potassium, thiamine and folate. Thiamine or vitamin B1 is essential for the proper functioning of your body’s tissues, as it converts the food consumed into energy. Folate (vitamin B9) is important in red blood cell formation and for healthy cell growth and function. Potassium helps maintain blood pressure and regulates fluid balance in the body and prevents water retention.
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4. They are high in antioxidants
Oranges contain flavonoid antioxidants, which help prevent oxidative stress in the body, a phenomenon where there is an imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and your body’s ability to counter their effects. Flavonoids also have anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antimicrobial effects. Higher flavonoid intake has also been found to reduce the risk of depression, as seen in a study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
5. They help to maintain heart health
Regular consumption of oranges is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases. According to a 2011 study published in Oxford Academic, flavonoids like hesperidin present in oranges have benefits for heart health by lowering high blood pressure. Other clinical studies show that consumption of orange juice for at least four weeks has benefits for the thinning of blood, inhibiting blood clot formation within the body. Intake of fibres from oranges are also connected to decreased LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in blood.
6. They can help protect sperm health
According to research published by King Institute in 2010, Vitamin C present in oranges has shown to improve sperm mobility and count, thus increasing male fertility naturally. It also helps to repair damaged sperm and protects the sperm from genetic damage that could cause birth defects.
7. Oranges can help to prevent iron-deficiency anemia
Iron-deficiency anemia is characterised by low levels of haemoglobin in blood, which hinders oxygen circulation within the body, causing fatigue and many other symptoms. Vitamin C and citric acid, both present in orange in adequate amounts, improves the body’s ability to absorb iron from dietary sources. When eaten alongside iron-rich foods, oranges can thus help to prevent iron deficiency.
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Fresh Orange or Orange Juice?
Although nutritionally similar to fresh oranges, orange juice is considered less healthier than a whole orange because of the lack of fibre in it. 240 ml or 1 cup of packaged orange juice contains twice as much sugar as a whole orange, drinking which can cause a sudden spike in blood sugar. If you can, opt for whole oranges over juice, and freshly squeezed juice over commercially available pre-packaged varieties.
How to Use Oranges
1. In Food
● Orange and Fennel Salad: Mix shaved fennel, orange slices, avocado, mint and pistachios and use a dressing of olive oil, dijon mustard, orange juice and salt and pepper to make a refreshing salad.
● Whole-wheat Orange Pancakes: Add ½ cup of orange juice and ½ teaspoon of orange zest to your favourite pancake recipe, adjusting the other liquids accordingly and switching out refined flour for whole-wheat flour to make these healthy and delicious pancakes.
● Orange glazed fish or chicken: Make a glaze of reduced freshly squeezed orange juice combined with honey and soy sauce to add to your baked fish or chicken for flavour.
2. In Skincare
● DIY facemasks: Dry orange peel under the sun and powder it. Add 1 tbsp to 2 tbsp of yoghurt and 1 tsp of honey to make a rejuvenating face mask. For oily skin, add 1 tbsp of orange peel powder to some multani mitti and rose water to form a thick paste that you can use as a mask.
● Orange essential oil: Orange essential oil, extracted from the rind of sweet orange, can be helpful in treating acne and inflammation of the skin. Dilute it with a carrier oil, like jojoba or sweet almond, before using it on your skin.
3. As an Air-Freshener
Add orange peel to a cooking pot with some water and cloves and boil it to form a sweet-smelling scent that you can store in a container and display in your rooms.
Risks Associated with Orange
● Because of the presence of citric acid and ascorbic acid (vitamin C), those who suffer from heartburn might find their symptoms getting worse from the consumption of oranges.
● In very rare cases, people may develop an allergic reaction to oranges.
● An excess of Vitamin C (more than 2000mg) can cause diarrhea, nausea and headaches.
With inputs by Dr Lakshmi K, Ph.D Food Science & Nutrition, University of Georgia (USA), Head Nutritionist, URLife
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