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Health Benefits of Oranges

The orange is a delicious citrus fruit that is packed with vitamins and minerals that can improve health and reduce the risk for developing some medical conditions.  While the price and availability of oranges can make it difficult to get daily servings of this healthful food, bottled orange juice can provide many of the benefits of fresh oranges, making it possible for anyone to enjoy the health benefits of the orange. 

Nutritional Information 

The orange is listed on the World's Healthiest Foods index because it is low in calories and contains high levels of important nutrients.  One orange (131 g) contains just 61 calories.  However, it contains over 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, as well as folate, fiber, potassium, vitamin A, calcium and thiamin (vitamin B1).   

Health Benefits 

Oranges contain chemical compounds that can reduce the risk of some diseases or provide protective benefits to the body.  Phytonutrients provide antioxidant effects, which means that free radicals are neutralized so they cannot damage the tissues of the body.  Oranges contain several phytonutrients, including anthocyanins, polyphenols, citrus flavanones and hydroxycinnamic acids.  Research has shown that herperidin may be the most important flavanone in the orange.  It can contribute to reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels and also provides an anti-inflammatory effect.  Because this important compound is found in the pulp and peel of the orange, it is best to eat whole oranges rather than orange juice, as orange juice processing can cause the loss of this compound. 

The vitamin C content of oranges also helps to improve health.  Vitamin C also neutralizes free radicals and prevents DNA mutations.  Because cancer is caused by free radical damage, reducing the number of DNA mutations can help prevent cancer and protect the body.  Free radical damage can also cause inflammation as the body tries to rid itself of damaged cells.  When vitamin C neutralizes free radicals, this type of inflammation is prevented.  Oranges can be used to ease the inflammation of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.  Another health benefit of the orange is that it can prevent cholesterol plaque from blocking the flow of blood through the blood vessels.  This is because neutralized free radicals cannot oxidize cholesterol.  Only oxidized cholesterol can stick to the walls of the arteries and create a blockage. 

Warnings 

Avoid oranges if you have a known allergy to citrus fruits.  Remove the pulp if you have certain digestive disorders that are aggravated by foods that are difficult to break down.  Discuss oranges with your doctor if you have diabetes, kidney failure or other medical conditions that make diet control very important.