Mediterranean Diet 101

Oranges Health Benefits

An orange is a member of a class of fruits called citrus fruits and is by far the most popular fruits in the world. It’s believed to have originated in Eastern Asia before thousands of years. Today it’s cultivated around almost all warmer parts of the world and is consumed in the form of fresh fruits or juice due to its refreshing, tangy taste and amazing health benefits.

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Oranges Nutritional Facts

100 grams of oranges contain following nutrients:

- Water 87%
- Carbohydrates 11.8 grams
- Protein 0.9 grams
- Saturated fat 0.02 grams
- Monounsaturated fat 0.02 grams
- Polyunsaturated fat 0.03 grams
- Omega-3 fatty acid 0.01 grams
- Omega-6 fatty acid 0.02 grams
- Trans-fat 0 gram
- Vitamin A 225 IU (International Units)
- Alpha-carotene 11 mcg
- Beta-carotene 71 mcg
- Cryptoxanthin 116 mcg
- Zeaxanthin and Lutein 129 mcg
- Lycopene 19.04 mg
- Vitamin B1 0.08 mg
- Vitamin B2 0.03 mg
- Vitamin B3 0.28 mg
- Vitamin B6 0.06 mg
- Biotin 1 mcg
- Choline 8.39 mg
- Folate 30 mcg
- Pantothenic Acid 0.25 mg
- Vitamin C 53.19 mg
- Vitamin E 0.24 mg
- Fiber 2.4 grams
- Copper 0.04 mg
- Calcium 40 mg
- Pantothenic acid 0.25 mg
- Potassium 181 mg
- Selenium 0.49 mcg
- Chromium 0.29 mcg
- Zinc 0.06 mg
- Iron 0.09 mg
- Magnesium 10 mg
- Manganese 0.02 mg
- Phosphorous 14 mg
- Sugar 9.4 grams
- Calories 47

Carbohydrates in Oranges: Carbohydrates and water are main components of oranges, while protein and fat content in this fruit is very low. Also calories are low in oranges.

Carbohydrates in oranges are present mainly in the form of simple sugars like sucrose, glucose and fructose, which offer orange its sweet taste.

However, the glycemic index of oranges is very low, in the range of 31 to 51. Low value of glycemic index offer several health benefits. It’s also indicative of how soon sugar enters the blood after a meal. Low glycemic index in oranges is because of fiber and polyphenols which restrain the rise in blood sugar.

Fiber in Oranges: Oranges are a great source of fiber. A large orange of about 184 grams contains about 18% of the daily recommended intake (DRI) of fiber.

Fibers in oranges are mainly of the types pectin, lignin, hemicellulose and cellulose. Fibers are known to improve the function of digestive system and benefit the friendly bacteria that inhabit there. Fiber may even bring about weight loss and reduce cholesterol levels.

Vitamins and Minerals in Oranges: Oranges contain several vitamins and minerals beneficial to us. These include:

Vitamin C: Oranges are packed with vitamin C. One can get more than 100% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C by eating a large orange.

Folate: Also called folic acid or vitamin B9, folate offers several health benefits.

Thiamin: This is one of the B vitamins, known also as vitamin B1. Oranges contain abundant vitamin B1.

Potassium: Oranges are also packed with potassium. It’s beneficial to people with hypertension because it reduces blood pressure. Potassium is also beneficial for cardiovascular health.

Phytonutrients in Oranges

Oranges are loaded with numerous bioactive phytonutrients. They are supposed to offer many of the beneficial health effects of oranges. Two main categories of antioxidant phytonutrients in oranges are phenolics (phenolic compounds) and carotenoids.


Oranges are a great source of phenolic compounds, particularly flavonoids, which are responsible for most of their antioxidant qualities.

Anthocyanins: This is a class of antioxidant flavonoid present in blood oranges which offer red color to their flesh.

Hesperidin: This flavonoid is one of the major antioxidants present in oranges and offers many health benefits.


All citrus fruits are loaded with carotenoids, a type of antioxidants that offer oranges their orange color.

Lycopene: This is an antioxidant present in high amounts in the red-fleshed navel oranges or Cara cara oranges. It’s also present in grapefruits and tomatoes and offers several health benefits.

Beta-cryptoxanthin: This is one of the main carotenoid antioxidants present in oranges. Human body can convert it into vitamin A.

Citric Acid

Oranges and other citrus fruits contain high amount of citric acid and citrates which offer the fruits their sour taste. Research shows that due to the citric acid and citrates in oranges, kidney stone formation can be prevented.

Health Benefits of Oranges

Various animal as well as human studies have indicated that regularly eating oranges can offer many health benefits.

Cardiovascular Health

Heart disease is the most common reason for premature death in the world at present. Oranges can protect you from heart disease because of its flavonoids, particularly hesperidin. Human clinical studies have shown that daily consumption of orange juice for 4 weeks offers blood thinning effect and it can significantly lower blood pressure.

Fibers in oranges may also have a role in protecting heart. Consuming isolated fibers from citrus fruits has been found to lower blood cholesterol levels.

Beneficial in Diabetes

The high fiber content of oranges helps lower blood sugar levels in patients of diabetes type 1 and improve blood sugar, insulin and lipid levels in patients of diabetes type 2. Oranges are included in the list of foods recommended for diabetic people by the American Diabetes Association.

Preventing Kidney Stones

Due to its citric acid and citrates, oranges can help prevent the formation of kidney stone.

Preventing Anemia

Anemia is a disorder in which the amount of hemoglobin or red blood cells in blood is reduced and is typically caused by iron deficiency.

While oranges are not an ideal source of iron, they are a great source of organic acids like citric acid and vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Both these acids can help increase the absorption of iron from the digestive tract. Hence if oranges are eaten along with iron-laden foods, they can prevent anemia.

Benefits to Vision

Oranges contain carotenoids which are converted to vitamin A which is essential for healthy vision. Thus consumption of oranges can strengthen your vision.

Benefits to Immune System

Most citrus fruits contain high level of vitamin C, but oranges contain it in the highest amount. This vitamin neutralizes free radicals and thus protects cells. Free radicals can cause chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer. Oranges reduce this risk. In addition, they boost an individual’s immunity while fighting with everyday viruses as well as infections such as common cold.

Protection against Cancer

Vitamin C in oranges can reduce the risk of colon cancer by preventing DNA mutations from happening. Research has shown that around 10% to 15% of colon cancers are caused by a mutation in a gene known as BRAF. The American Journal of Epidemiology has published a study in 2004 which shows that consuming orange, orange juice and bananas during the first two years of life may lower the risk of childhood leukemia.

Compounds in oranges known as limonoids have been found to help fight cancers of colon, stomach, breast, lung and mouth. As shown by the researchers at the US Agricultural Research Service, human body can readily absorb and make use of a very long-acting limonoid known as limonin present in oranges and other citrus fruits in the form of limonin glucoside wherein limonin is bound with a sugar molecule.

Human body can cleave off sugar and release limonin and can easily digest it. Limonin is highly bioavailable and therefore limonoids are highly effective against carcinogens and may constantly prevent cancerous cells from growing, whereas other natural anti-cancer agents remain available for much less time; for example, phenols in chocolate and green tea remain available in the body for only 4 to 6 hours.

Protection of Respiratory Health

A reddish orange carotenoid named beta-cryptoxanthin is found in the highest levels in oranges, papaya, peaches, tangerines, pumpkin and red bell papers. It can remarkably reduce the risk of lung cancer. People eating these fruits and other foods rich in cryptoxanthin have shown 27% reduction in the risk of lung cancer. Also, smokers eating cryptoxanthin-rich foods showed 37% reduction in lung cancer risk as compared to smokers who consume least of these foods.

Benefits to Skin

Vitamin C in oranges boosts collagen production and thus improves overall texture of skin and prevents wrinkles. Plus, it also helps skin fight against the damage resulted from pollution and sun and thus helps skin look beautiful.

Benefits to Gums

Since oranges are rich in vitamin C which is essential for the health of gums, their consumption can make gums stronger and remove vitamin C deficiency if any. Oranges can stop gum inflammation and bleeding gums.

Protection against Rheumatoid Arthritis

Daily consumption of a glass of freshly extracted orange juice has been found to significantly reduce the risk of development of rheumatoid arthritis.

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What is More Beneficial – Whole Orange or Orange Juice?

One of the main differences in whole oranges and orange juice is that juice has much less fiber content and so, it can increase its glycemic index a bit.

A cup of orange juice has the same quantity of natural sugar as that in two whole oranges and is much less satisfying. Because of this, fruit juice consumption can usually become excessive and thereby can contribute to weight gain and cause adverse effects on metabolic health.

High-quality orange juice can be moderately healthy. However, whole oranges are usually much healthier.

Harmful Effects

As such, oranges have not many known harmful effects. Rarely, some people have an allergy to oranges.

However, consumption of oranges may worsen the symptoms of heartburn because of the organic acids, like ascorbic acid and citric acid in oranges.

And like any other thing, oranges should be eaten in moderation. The high fiber content in oranges can affect digestion if oranges are eaten in excess, resulting in abdominal cramps and even diarrhea.

Even excess of vitamin C in oranges can lead to diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, cramps, bloating, insomnia, kidney stones or headaches.

Also, excessive consumption of oranges can be harmful for people taking beta-blockers because beta-blockers increase potassium levels and if they are paired with potassium-laden foods like oranges and bananas, potassium levels in the body can reach dangerous levels. They are especially dangerous for those whose kidneys are not working well and cannot remove the excess potassium from the body.

Long Story Short: If you care for your health, you are already consuming oranges from time to time - regularly, but not in excess amounts, especially not if you are consuming other citrus fruits like lemons, tangerines etc.

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