The health benefits of oranges

Oranges are bursting with vitamins and minerals but can they really ward off colds? We take a closer look at how these citrus fruits can aid your well-being.

Sliced oranges on a wooden blue table

Oranges are a round, segmented citrus fruit with a pitted peel. The taste can vary from juicy and sweet to bitter, depending on the variety – more common varieties include Valencia, Seville and Hamlin. Oranges are available all year round, except for some varieties such as blood oranges, which have a shorter season.

Nutritional benefits of oranges

Oranges are well known for their vitamin C content which is a powerful antioxidant, helping protect our cells from damage. Just one medium orange will provide the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of vitamin C for adults.

They also contain health-promoting compounds known as flavanones. Research suggests that these citrus phytochemicals help support the body and protect us from conditions such as heart disease and cancer, as well as having some anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antimicrobial benefits.

Oranges are also a good source of fibre, B vitamins, vitamin A, calcium and potassium.

Just one orange counts towards one of your five-a-day. One 150ml glass of unsweetened orange juice also counts as one portion, although the NHS advises that orange juice can still only count once per day, no matter how much you drink. Orange juice doesn't contain the fibre that is present in the whole fruit and is high in sugars, so the NHS advises that fruit juice is best consumed with food to limit the damage to teeth.

Orange peel actually contains higher amounts of certain nutrients than the flesh, so using recipes that incorporate the zest of an orange will give your diet an extra boost.

Bowl with fresh sliced orange and mint salad

Can oranges help reduce symptoms of a cold?

There has been an ongoing debate since the 1970s as to whether oranges, or more specifically their vitamin C content, can actually help prevent a cold or reduce the symptoms and duration. Recent research by the University of Helsinki found that, in fact, taking vitamin C has no effect on colds once you have one, but that it could help in prevention.

Can oranges help to reduce blood pressure?

Research suggests that one antioxidant compound found in oranges, called hesperidin, may be beneficial in helping to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol. This research also suggests that consuming citrus fruits as part of a healthy diet may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Bowl of orange and raspberry granola with sliced fresh orange and mint

Orange recipes

Beetroot, orange & hazelnut salad
Chicken in balsamic, orange & rosemary sauce
Grilled mackerel with orange, chilli & watercress salad
Orange & raspberry granola
Carrot, orange & avocado salad
Orange & blueberry Bircher

This article was published on 19 June 2017.

Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at

All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.




Comments, questions and tips

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carole reiner's picture
carole reiner
10th Feb, 2019
I have read that most of the valuable vitamins and minerals in oranges are in the white material between the zest and the orange segments. when we peel an orange it's usually to remove the bitter zest ,yet we remove the white part as well not realizing we're throwing out the most nutritious part.The same thing is true of potatoes. More and more often you'll find potato peel in mashed potatoes.
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