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 wellbeing.
What are oranges?
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 ones include Valencia, Seville and Hamlin. Most oranges are available year-round, except for varieties such as blood oranges, which have a shorter season.
Discover our full range of health benefit guides or, check out some of our best orange recipes, from our pot roast veal with new season carrots and orange, to our delicious prawn salad with orange, red onion and avocado.
Nutritional benefits of oranges
One medium orange provides:
- 58Kcal / 243KJ
- 1.3g Protein
- 0.3g Fat
- 13.1g Carbohydrate
- 1.9g Fibre
- 195mg Potassium
- 53mcg Folate
- 83mg Vitamin C
One medium orange counts as one of your 5-a-day. A 150ml glass of unsweetened orange juice also counts as one portion, although the NHS advises that orange juice, as with other juices, can only count once per day no matter how much you drink. Discover more about what contributes to your 5-a-day.
Top 5 health benefits of oranges
1. Good source of protective antioxidants
It’s well known that citrus, and notably oranges, are rich in vitamin C, which has valuable antioxidant properties and helps protect cells from damage. They’re also high in carotenoids including beta-cryptoxanthin, which the body converts to vitamin A, and the blood orange provides lycopene.
Oranges contain health-promoting compounds known as flavanones. Research suggests that these phytochemicals help support the body and protect us from conditions such as heart disease and cancer – they’re also thought to have anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antimicrobial benefits. What’s more, 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.
2. May support heart health
Research suggests that one of these antioxidant compounds, called hesperidin, may help lower 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. A clinical study reported that a daily glass of orange juice for four weeks has a blood thinning effect and may reduce blood pressure.
Further studies suggest including citrus in the diet protects against cardiovascular disease by reducing oxidative damage and inflammation, and improving the health of blood vessels.
3. May protect against kidney stones
4. May help prevent iron-deficiency anaemia
Oranges are not a reputable source of iron but they are a good source of vitamin C and citric acid, two compounds which when consumed with iron-rich foods improves our uptake of this important mineral.
5. May promote better brain function
There is some promising research into the role of flavonoids in the diet including improvements in memory and cognition as well as the prevention of neurodegenerative conditions. However, it is too early to say whether oranges, in particular, have a significant impact on brain health.
Are oranges safe for everyone?
Most of us can safely enjoy oranges as part of a balanced diet, however, there are rare reports of allergies. Also, if you suffer from heartburn you may find eating oranges or drinking juice aggravates your symptoms.
Finally, if you are prescribed certain medication, including some blood pressure drugs, you may need to exercise caution when consuming citrus fruit, including oranges. This is because nutrients in the fruit, such as potassium, may interact with your medication.
If you have any concerns or queries refer to your GP or pharmacist for guidance.
Beetroot, orange & hazelnut salad
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This article was last reviewed on 6 October 2021 by Kerry Torrens.
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 urbanwellness.co.uk.
Kerry Torrens is a qualified nutritionist (MBANT) with a postgraduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the past 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.
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