Health Benefits of Blood Oranges

Blood oranges may have a sinister-sounding name, but they’re just a natural mutation of standard oranges. This mutation led to the production of anthocyanins, which make blueberries blue and blood oranges bright red. The blood orange was first cultivated in Italy, but it has since spread throughout the world. 

While there are dozens of varieties of blood orange, there are three main types in the US: the Moro, the Sanguinetii, and the Tarocco. While each has a unique flavor, they all provide similar nutritional benefits.

Health Benefits

The antioxidants, minerals, and other nutrients in blood oranges can provide many health benefits. Vitamin C helps the body heal by supporting healthy blood vessels and muscles. It’s also an important vitamin for improving your iron absorption.

Blood oranges also provide:

Antioxidants

Blood oranges are full of anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant. These are the pigments that give them their dark red color. These antioxidants are known for their anti-cancer properties. They help your body reduce damage from free radicals, decreasing the chance that cells will become cancerous.

Cholesterol Regulation

Blood oranges, like many types of citrus, are full of vitamin C. This can help lower cholesterol levels according to recent studies. In fact, according to one study, regularly consuming vitamin C can not only lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol significantly, it may also help raise your “good” HDL cholesterol levels.

Immune System Support

Another benefit of the vitamin C in blood oranges is its ability to shore up your immune system. It’s important to make sure you get enough vitamin C regularly, because it’s water-soluble and your body can’t store it. Regularly consuming enough vitamin C helps keep your immune system and especially your white blood cells working efficiently. 

Protection Against Strokes

Blood oranges are also rich in flavonoids, the compound that produces the rich flavor of these fruits. This compound can help reduce the risk of strokes for some people. Recent research has shown that eating more flavonoids significantly reduces the risk of ischemic strokes in women. 

Continued

Nutrition

Blood oranges are rich in antioxidants, which help reduce the stress of oxidation and lower your risk of chronic health problems like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes

Nutrients per Serving

One medium blood orange contains the following nutrients:

Blood oranges are also a great source of:

The fiber in blood oranges comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble. Both types help your digestive system. Soluble fiber turns into a gel in your stomach and absorbs cholesterol before it can enter your bloodstream, helping reduce cholesterol levels. Meanwhile, insoluble fiber acts as a prebiotic. This means that it gives the good bacteria in your gut something to eat and helps support healthy digestion.

Things to Watch Out For

Like all citrus fruits, blood oranges are highly acidic. This can lead to heartburn in some people, so be cautious if you are prone to acid reflux.

Blood oranges are also full of potassium. It’s important to get enough potassium in your diet, but too much can cause problems for people who have been prescribed beta-blockers. These medications increase potassium levels as well, which can result in damage to your heart in excess.

How to Prepare Blood Oranges

Blood oranges are in season from December through May, so they’re the perfect choice for a winter snack. You can find them in large supermarkets and farmers markets throughout the nation. They’re typically grown in California and Arizona, but they’re available nation-wide.

With their sweet taste and vivid color, blood oranges make a great addition to desserts, breakfasts, and even savory dishes. 

You can consume blood oranges raw, cooked, or juiced. Here are some suggestions for ways you can try this tasty fruit:

  • Eat blood oranges raw 
  • Cut blood oranges and add them to salads
  • Use blood oranges to make juice
  • Make blood orange marmalade
  • Include blood orange slices in an orange chicken stir fry
  • Mix with cranberries for a themed fruit salad
  • Add blood orange slices to cocktails
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 31, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

American Garden Association: “Unusual citrus.”

American Heart Association: “Dietary Flavonoids and Risk of Stroke in Women.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

Food and Nutrition Research: “Anthocyanidins and anthocyanins: colored pigments as food, pharmaceutical ingredients, and the potential health benefits .”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Can vitamin C prevent a cold?”

Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry: “Characterization of major anthocyanins and the color of red-fleshed Budd Blood orange (Citrus sinensis).”

Journal of Chiropractic Medicine: “Vitamin C supplementation lowers serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides: a meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials.”

Mayo Clinic: “Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet.”

Nutrients: “Vitamin C and Immune Function.”

United States Department of Agriculture: “Elemental content and nutritional study of blood orange juice.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pagination

Get Diet and Fitness Tips In Your Inbox

Eat better and exercise smarter. Sign up for the Food & Fitness newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the WebMD Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of WebMD subscriptions at any time.