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More than Just Vitamin C – Enjoy the Health Benefits of Oranges

Juicy and sweet and renowned for its concentration of vitamin C, oranges make the perfect snack and add a special tang to many recipes; it is no wonder that they are one of the most popular fruits in the world. Oranges are generally available from winter through summer with seasonal variations depending on the variety.

Oranges originated in Southeast Asia and are widely grown in the warmer climates throughout the world. According to FAO (the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations) Corporate Statistical Database (FAOSTAT), the top ten producers of oranges in 2005 were Brazil, USA, Mexico, India, China, Spain, Italy, Iran, Egypt and Pakistan.

Oranges have many uses and are used in the production of orange juice, chemicals used to condition wooden furniture, perfume and jams, while gardeners have used the orange peels or rind as a slug repellent.

Primarily there are three varieties of oranges; the sweet orange, the sour orange and the mandarin orange or better known as a tangerine. The United States is known to produce the sweet variety, while Spain is known to produce the sour range. The sweet ranges include the Blood, Jaffa, Hamlin, Navel, Pineapple and Valencia orange, while the sour variety is known as Seville and is commonly used in liquors and jams.

One hundred grams of oranges contain 47 calories, 12 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of protein and absolutely zero fat, and have many health benefits.

Oranges provide cardiovascular protection

Oranges contain vitamin C, fiber, potassium and choline, which are all good for your heart, so the fruits may give your ticker a big boost.

Studies suggest that eating foods rich in antioxidant nutrients, including vitamin C, protects against heart disease. Getting at least 220 milligrams of vitamin C a day was more protective against heart disease than 141 milligrams a day or less, according to a recent study from Korea. In a recent Dutch study, researchers found that those with the lowest intakes of C were 30 percent more likely to suffer a stroke than those with the highest.

Potassium, an electrolyte mineral, is vital for allowing electricity to flow through your body, which keeps your heart beating. Lack of potassium can lead to arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat. According to a 2012 study, people who consumed 4,069 mg of potassium each day had a 49 percent lower risk of death from heart disease compared with those who consumed only about 1,000 mg of potassium per day. According to Laura Flores, a San Diego-based nutritionist, “the potassium found in oranges helps to lower blood pressure, protecting against stroke.” She noted another heart-related benefit, pointing out that oranges are “high in folate, which is beneficial in lowering levels of homocysteine, a cardiovascular risk factor.”

Oranges help prevent cataracts

Experts found elderly people who ate fruit and vegetables high in vitamin C were a third less likely to develop cataracts. The study, published in the journal Ophthalmology, looked at the progression of cataracts in the eyes of 324 pairs of female twins, mainly in their sixties, over 10 years.

Participants who had a higher intake of vitamin C were associated with a 33 percent risk reduction of cataract progression after the 10 years. The condition occurs when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, affecting vision.

Lead researcher Professor Chris Hammond, from King’s College London, said: “Simple dietary changes such as increased intake of fruit and vegetables as part of a healthier diet could help protect them from cataracts.”

Oranges help maintain your skin, bones and teeth

Vitamin C is required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It is necessary to form collagen, an important protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is essential for the healing of wounds, and for the repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.

Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants. Antioxidants are nutrients that block some of the damage caused by free radicals, which are by-products that result when our bodies transform food into energy. The build-up of these by-products over time is largely responsible for the aging process and can contribute to the development of various health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and a host of inflammatory conditions like arthritis. Antioxidants also help reduce the damage to the body caused by toxic chemicals and pollutants such as cigarette smoke.

The body does not manufacture vitamin C on its own, nor does it store it. It is therefore important to include plenty of vitamin C-containing foods in your daily diet.

Oranges ‘cut cancer risk’

An orange a day is the best bet for keeping cancer away, according to scientists. Oranges has many potential positive effects when it comes to cancer, particularly because it is high in antioxidants from flavonoids such as hesperitin and naringinin.

One study found that consuming citrus fruits could cut the risk of mouth, larynx and stomach cancers by up to 50 percent. Another study in Arizona found that those who used citrus peels in cooking reduced their risk of squamous cell carcinoma by 50 percent. We’ve long known that Mediterranean people suffer lower rates of certain cancers than others, and researchers now believe this can partly be ascribed to their regular consumption of citrus peel.

Researcher Dr. Katrine Baghurst said: “Citrus fruits protect the body through their antioxidant properties and by strengthening the immune system, inhibiting tumour growth and normalizing tumor cells.”

Orange juice help prevent kidney stones

People who develop kidney stones are at high risk of getting them again. Yet, a study carried out in Texas, USA, showed a daily glass of orange juice could keep them at bay. The juice contains citrate, a chemical that helps to prevent the stones from forming.

In the study, researchers compared the effects of orange juice and lemonade in preventing recurrent kidney stones. Both juices contain comparable citrate levels. Thirteen volunteers, some with a history of kidney stones and some without, participated in the three-phase study.

In random order, the participants drank approximately 13 ounces of either distilled water, orange juice, or lemonade three times a day with meals for one week, with a three-week interval before moving to the next phase. They also followed a special diet as recommended for preventing recurrent kidney stones.

The results showed that orange juice increased levels of citrate in the urine and decreased urine acidity, which reduced the risk of kidney stones. But lemonade did not have the same effect.

“Orange juice could potentially play an important role in the management of kidney stone disease and may be considered an option for patients who are intolerant of potassium citrate,” says researcher Clarita Odvina, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, in a news release.

A superfood for diabetics

Oranges are powerhouses of nutrition and can help people suffering from many different conditions. Diabetes is one such condition. Oranges are high in fiber, which can help lower blood sugar levels in people with type 1 diabetes and improve blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association lists oranges, along with other citrus fruits, as a superfood for people with diabetes.

The carbohydrate count in one orange is about 10 to 15 g. For diabetics using a carbohydrate-counting system to determine how much they can eat in a day, an orange is one serving. For diabetics using the glycemic index or glycemic load of foods to plan what they eat, oranges are also a good choice. The glycemic load of an orange is about 5, a low number that indicates the fruit causes only a small rise in blood glucose.

Orange trivia

1.) In Afghanistan, oranges are customarily used as a seasoning at the dinner table; oranges are squeezed over the food to help cut grease.

2.) In Jamaica, people clean their floors with an orange cut in half; mechanics there use oranges to clean away grease and oil.

3.) Spain has over 35,000,000 orange trees.

4.) In Switzerland, oranges are sometimes served smothered with sugar and whipped cream.

5.) Europeans sometimes eat oranges with knives and forks.

6.) English children make “orange-peel teeth”; they wedge a piece of the peeling over their gums on Halloween.

7.) It wasn’t until after the Second World War that commercial orange-juice concentrate became available in America.

8.) Oranges were once considered the fruit of the gods; they were referred to as the “golden apples” that Hercules stole.

9.) The outside color of an orange has no absolute correlation with the maturity of the fruit and juice inside.

10.) Oranges were used in cosmetics by ladies of the French court in the 17th-century.

11.) About 25 billion oranges are typically grown in the United States each year.

12.) Many orange varieties float when placed in water; very sweet varieties, however, sink to the bottom.

13.) In the 19th-century orange blossoms were regularly shipped to Paris in salted barrels, because no French bride wanted to be married without wearing or holding them.

14.) After Francis I saved Marseilles from a Spanish siege, the ladies of Marseillaise pelted him with oranges as a token of their love and gratitude.

15.) Some oranges turn orange when they are still unripe; others turn to green again as they ripen.

16.) An orange tree in Europe referred to as the “Constable,” is said to be four hundred and eighty-eight years old.

17.) Lightning kills as many orange trees as any disease.

18.) 17th-century Frenchmen liked to pour orange juice over their roasted chestnuts.

19.) Oranges and orange blossoms have long been symbols of love.

20.) Many societies once believed that the worst thing that could happen to an orange tree was the touch of a woman, which — it was believed — would make the foliage wilt and drop.

21.) Some ancient civilizations used the juice and peel of oranges as antidotes for innumerable poisons.

22.) Oranges were so esteemed in Florence that paintings of the fruit cover the ceilings of the Medici’s Pitti Palace.

23.) To make oranges a more appealing orange color, oranges are sometimes gassed. Some oranges are also dyed in a vat, dried, then coated in Johnson’s Wax.