What Are Oranges?
Oranges are round, orange-colored citrus fruits that grow on trees. They originally came from China, but today these nutritious powerhouses are grown in warm climates around the world.
Types of Oranges
There are many different varieties of oranges. Some are sweet, and some are sour. Common types include:
- Cara Cara
- Blood oranges
Every type of orange has more than 100% of your recommended daily amount of vitamin C. That's more than any other citrus fruit. All you have to do to get this key vitamin is peel and eat.
Nutrition in Oranges
One medium-sized orange has:
- 60 calories
- No fat or sodium
- 3 grams of fiber
- 12 grams of sugar
- 1 gram of protein
- 14 micrograms of vitamin A
- 70 milligrams of vitamin C
- 6% of your daily recommended amount of calcium
- 237 milligrams of potassium
- 15.4 grams of carbohydrates
Health Benefits of Oranges
The vitamin C in oranges helps your body in lots of ways:
- Protects your cells from damage
- Helps your body make collagen, a protein that heals wounds and gives you smoother skin
- Makes it easier to absorb iron to fight anemia
- Boosts your immune system, your body's defense against germs
- Slows the advance of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss
- Helps fight cancer-causing free radicals
When you're feeling anxious, vitamin C can also lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol and your blood pressure.
Some other benefits:
Anti-inflammatory. Some foods tell your immune system it's under attack. This causes inflammation. When inflammation turns into a long-term problem, it can trigger diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease. Oranges have the opposite effect.
Fiber. The 3 grams of fiber in a medium orange help keep your bowels healthy, your cholesterol and risk of heart disease low, and ulcers at bay. Fiber also slows the way your body absorbs sugar -- a big bonus if you have diabetes.
Calcium. Oranges are high in this important nutrient, which keeps your bones, organs, and muscles strong.
Folate for moms and babies. Oranges are a great way to get a big dose of folate naturally. Your body uses it to divide cells and make DNA. Because it helps prevent birth defects, it's an especially important B vitamin for pregnant women.
Good sugar. The 12 grams of sugar in an orange are all natural. That's different from the kind of sugar you'd get in a candy bar. Plus, all the fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants that come with an orange make it a much better choice for your body. Choose raw oranges, which have less sugar than the dried kind.
Potassium. This nutrient lowers your blood pressure, and oranges have a bunch of it.
Citric acid and citrates. These compounds help prevent kidney stones from forming.
Health Risks of Oranges
Sometimes you can get too much of a good thing. Though this mainly applies to the supplement form, too much vitamin C at one time could give your body more fiber and sugar than it needs.
Watch out for nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, headache, and insomnia.
Oranges are high in acid, and that can make symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) worse.
If you’re taking beta-blockers, too many oranges could increase your potassium intake and lead to kidney damage.
If your body stores more iron than it needs, a condition called hemochromatosis, high doses of vitamin C can add more iron and damage your tissues.
Vitamin C may also increase absorption from medicines that contain aluminum, like phosphate binders, and increase your estrogen levels if you're on hormone replacement therapy.
As for orange juice, you might get some extra sugar and lose some fiber in the trade-off. Too much fruit juice can also lead to weight gain, which can raise your risk of heart disease, especially in middle age. But both whole oranges and their juice are good for you.
How to Prepare and Store Oranges
You can store your oranges at room temperature out of direct sunlight. But if you know you won’t eat them for a few days, put them in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer.
For ways to prepare oranges, check out: