This post appears as part of our Healthier 2021 series, in which we follow three WebMD team members as they strive to improve their health this year. You can follow their journeys here.
By Laura J. Downey
This past summer, my primary care doctor told me that my white blood cell count was unusually low. That came as no surprise to me because for years, it has always been lower than the average range. But it did make me ask myself what I could do to help get my below-average number up.
You see, white blood cells help the body fight off infections. So as it stands, my body is able to fight, but it’s not bringing its “A game” to the battle. And with flu season here and COVID-19 lurking, I can’t afford to take any chances. After all, I’m a young 43, and I have a lot of life left -- I’m not going to let a low white blood cell count knock me out for the count!
Knowing that vitamin C is a go-to for boosting the immune system, I decided to add some citrus to my life -- but not just any ol’ citrus would do! It’s been said that blood oranges were set aside for royalty, so I naturally gravitated toward the regal fruit with its tasty raspberry flavor. A few days later, I received a box straight from a farm in California filled with Moro blood oranges! OK, so the name sounds super creepy, but I promise you, this natural mutation of the standard orange is worth a try.
If you’re into fine dining like I am, you’ve probably been served a dish accented with a blood orange or savored a cocktail with the beautiful blood orange as a garnish. I digress. Back to my box of citrus heaven. When I opened the package, I sliced a blood orange in half and bit into it. First of all, when I cut it open, the bright red pigment was so pretty! I had to take a photo. It’s definitely Instagram-worthy so I’ll be sure to post the image this week. Second, when I bit into it, a burst of juicy sweetness filled my mouth. Can you say, “Delish?!” Third, the nutritional benefits are invaluable.
A 70-calorie blood orange is packed with nutrients, including potassium, fiber, vitamin A, and the antioxidant anthocyanin (which gives the orange that beautiful red color). I am looking forward to including one in my next meal, a pan-seared halibut recipe. With just 15 minutes of preparation time and 10 minutes to cook, I can treat myself to a healthy meal filled with all the things that are good for my body (including my skin -- bye-bye wrinkles!).
I’ve never really been an orange -- let alone a blood orange -- girl, but now I’m sold! So if you're looking for ways to boost your immune system or just want to add a sweeter touch to supper, grab this satisfying citrus, which is in season till May. Orange you glad I shared this information with you?
Laura J. Downey is the executive editor of WebMD Magazine. She hopes this blog will help others see that every small step can lead to a more well-balanced, healthful, and fulfilling life. For more on her journey, follow her on Instagram @laurakadowney.