Health Benefits of Oranges

No fruit has a juicier story than the orange. It originated in China, but today growers cultivate this nutritious powerhouse in warm climates around the world.

Whether it's round, navel, or Valencia, 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.

Nutrients per Serving

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 daily recommended amount of calcium

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
  • Makes it easier to absorb iron
  • 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

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 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.

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Any Health Risks?

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.

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. But both whole oranges and their juice are good for you.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on July 07, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

University of Rhode Island: "Citrus Fruits."

Colorado Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence: "Oranges."

National Institutes of Health: "Vitamin C: fact sheet for consumers," "Vitamin C, fact sheet for health professionals."

Biological Forum: "Determination of Vitamin C content in Citrus Fruits and in Non-Citrus Fruits by Titrimetric method, with special reference to their nutritional importance in Human diet."

Mayo Clinic: "Is it possible to take too much vitamin C?"

UCLA Center for East-West Medicine: "Eat Right, Drink Well, Stress Less: Stress-Reducing Foods, Herbal Supplements, and Teas."

Harvard Health Publishing: "Foods that fight inflammation," "How much calcium do you really need?"

Arthritis Foundation: "12 Best Foods for Arthritis."

Mayo Clinic: "Chart of high-fiber foods."

Canadian Society of Intestinal Research: "Diet for ulcer disease."

Blank Children's Hospital: "18 Foods Filled With Folate Every Woman Should Know."

United States Department of Agriculture: "Oranges, raw, all."

University Health News: "Sugar Content in Fruit: Is It Damaging to Your Health and Waistline?"

Blood Pressure UK: "Potassium rich fruits help to lower blood pressure."

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