Health Benefits of Oranges

Oranges are a staple in many kitchens. This round, citrus fruit is found in fruit bowls, refrigerators, and lunch boxes across the United States. Yes, you've seen and most likely eaten an orange or two, but do you know just how beneficial they are for your body?

Health Benefits

Oranges are a nutritional powerhouse, packed with vitamins and minerals. The most noteworthy of these is vitamin C, a water-soluble antioxidant that prevents cell damage.

How does it work? Every cell in the body contains DNA, which is vulnerable to damage, or mutations, when exposed to free radicals. When DNA mutates, it can lead to the growth of cancerous cells. Vitamin C neutralizes free radicals and can prevent this mutation. 

The vitamin C found in oranges has other health benefits too:  

  • Forms blood vessels, muscles, cartilage, and collagen in your bones.
  • Fights inflammation and can reduce the severity of conditions like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer.
  • Boosts the body's immune system to protect against viruses and germs.
  • Improves iron absorption and fights anemia.
  • Slows age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which can lead to vision loss. 
  • Lowers blood pressure and cortisol, the stress hormone. 

In addition to vitamin C, oranges have other nutrients that keep your body healthy. 

Fiber

The fiber in oranges can keep blood sugar levels in check and reduce high cholesterol to prevent cardiovascular disease.  

Calcium

Oranges contain approximately 55 milligrams of calcium, or 6% of your daily requirement. This nutrient is important for building strong bones and maintaining bone health. It's typically associated with dairy products like milk — but whole vegetables and fruits, like oranges, are also a good source.

Folic Acid or Folate

Folic acid is an essential B vitamin the body uses to create DNA and divide cells. If you don't have enough folate in your diet, it can lead to blood disease, cancer, and even birth defects. If you're pregnant, have an orange. It's a great natural source of folate.

Natural Sugar

This type of sugar is found in whole foods like milk, vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes. Unlike processed sugar that you'd find in candy, natural sugar contains fewer calories and more nutritional benefits.

Potassium

Oranges are high in potassium, a mineral that regulates heartbeat and muscle function. It's been shown to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. 

Citric Acid

A sour compound that's found in citrus fruits, citric acid is also used as a natural preservative. Oranges have plenty of it, and it can alter pH levels in the urine and prevent the formation of calcium oxalate stones, or kidney stones. 

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Nutrition

One orange contains 100% or more of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C, the highest of any citrus fruit:

  • 60 calories
  • 0 grams of fat
  • 0 grams of sodium
  • 12 grams of sugar
  • 3 grams of fiber
  • 1 gram of protein
  • 70 milligrams of vitamin C
  • 14 micrograms of vitamin A
  • 55 milligrams of calcium
  • 237 milligrams of potassium
  • 15.4 grams of carbohydrates

Portion Sizes

Oranges are a vitamin-packed and healthy food, but moderation is key. They have a high concentration of acid, which can be irritating to the stomach, especially if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Oranges are high in potassium, so if you're on beta-blockers, eating too many can lead to kidney damage. If you have a condition called hemochromatosis and your body stores excess iron, too much vitamin C can increase iron levels and lead to tissue damage. 

If you prefer to drink your fruits, stick to one or two glasses of OJ a day. Juices are higher in sugar and lower in fiber. Excess sugar can lead to weight gain. 

How to Eat Oranges

Oranges are available at most grocery stores. They don't cost much, and they're a great snack — just peel and eat. Oranges can be stored at room temperature on the kitchen counter or in a fruit bowl. If you don't eat them in a couple of days, put them in the fridge. 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 08, 2020

Sources

SOURCES: 

Annals of Internal Medicine: "Management of Hemochromatosis."

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

Journal of Medicinal Food: "Citric Acid Effects on Brain and Liver Oxidative Stress in Lipopolysaccharide-Treated Mice." 

Mayo Clinic: "Vitamin C." 

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: "Eat Your Way to Better Health." 

National Kidney Foundation: "Potassium and Your CKD Diet." 

National Osteoporosis Foundation: "A Guide to Calcium-Rich Foods."

The World's Healthiest Foods: "Folate." 

The World's Healthiest Foods: "Oranges."

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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