The orange’s popularity is demonstrated by the fact that it’s one of the most commonly grown fruit trees in the world. Besides its sweet yet tangy flavor, oranges have other advantages. One large orange has just 86 calories, no salt and barely a trace of fat. It’s packed with essential vitamins and minerals, plus oranges are a unique source of plant-based nutrients that deliver health benefits.
One large orange has 4 grams of dietary fiber, which is at least 10 percent of the recommended daily intake based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet. If you drink orange juice instead of eating the whole fruit, you’ll only get .5 grams — or 1 percent of the daily value — in 1 cup of juice. Orange juice with any amount of pulp does not add extra fiber, according to product labels from major brands of pure and natural juice. Dietary fiber keeps the digestive tract regular, improves symptoms of diverticular disease, lowers cholesterol and prevents spikes in blood sugar after you eat.
Oranges are well-known as a good source of vitamin C, but they also contain antioxidants needed for healthy eyes. One large orange contains 98 milligrams of vitamin C, which is at least one full day of the recommended daily intake. Vitamin C protects the immune system, lungs and other systems throughout the body from cellular damage that leads to illnesses such as cancer or cardiovascular disease. Vitamin C is also essential for the creation of collagen that helps wounds heal and supports skin and connective tissue. The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin protect your eyes from damage caused by exposure to blue light. Including more lutein and zeaxanthin in your diet may lower the risk of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Plants contain hundreds of different chemicals, or phytochemicals, that serve important biochemical functions in the human body. Citrus fruits are the primary source of phytochemicals from the flavonoid family called flavanones. Hesperidin is one of the most abundant flavanones found in oranges. Hesperidin improves blood vessel function, reduces inflammation and may help lower cholesterol. Orange juice has flavanones, but you’ll get more by eating the whole fruit because the phytochemicals are concentrated in the white pulp.
Oranges have several vitamins and minerals that your body needs to maintain a healthy heart. One large fruit has 55 micrograms of folate and .1 milligrams of vitamin B-6, which means you’ll get 14 percent of the recommended daily intake of folate and 8 percent of vitamin B-6. Both of these vitamins reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering levels of homocysteine in the blood. Oranges also provide the calcium, magnesium and potassium needed to maintain a regular heartbeat. (Source: Healthyeating.sfgates.com)