Your diet is linked to more than your overall well-being. Aside from being full of vitamins and minerals, a diet that contains fresh fruits and vegetables gives your body access to antioxidants, as previously mentioned. Here Jessie Szalay, LiveScience.com, reflects on the many health benefits oranges and ‘orange peels’ offer:
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“Sweet, juicy oranges make a delicious and healthy snack or addition to a meal. A whole orange contains only about 60 calories and has no fat, cholesterol or sodium, and, “oranges are well known for their vitamin C content,” said Laura Flores, a San Diego-based nutritionist.
Indeed, oranges offer many health benefits: They may boost your immune system, give you better skin, and even help improve your health heart and cholesterol levels. In addition, some evidence suggests that eating oranges may help reduce the risk of respiratory diseases, certain cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcers and kidney stones.
Orange juice is also packed with nutrients. However, the juice doesn’t contain the fiber found in the orange pith, the white substance between the peel and the flesh. It’s also easier to consume too many calories when drinking orange juice than when eating an orange, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health benefits of oranges
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Most citrus fruits have a good deal of vitamin C, and oranges have high levels even compared to their tangy brethren. Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, protects cells by scavenging and neutralizing harmful free radicals, according to a 2018 review published in the journal Advances in Analytical and Pharmaceutical Chemistry.
Free radicals are reactive atoms that can form from things such as environmental pollution, cigarette smoke and stress, and exposure to a high level of free radicals may lead to chronic conditions such as cancer and heart disease.
The vitamin C in oranges may also boost a person’s immunity to everyday viruses and infections such as the common cold, according to the same review.
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Some research suggests that the vitamin C in oranges may be linked with a lower risk of certain cancers.
“The vitamin C in oranges is associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer due to preventing DNA mutations from taking place,” Flores said. Studies have shown that about 10 to 15 percent of colon cancers have a mutation in a gene called BRAF.
In addition, a 2013 study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer found that the high amounts of vitamin C and folic acid, coupled with the antioxidant properties, in orange juice can reduce DNA damage and, therefore, the risk of cancer.
In addition to vitamin C, oranges contain fiber, potassium and choline, all of which are good for your heart. Potassium, an electrolyte mineral, is vital for the healthy functioning of the nervous system, and a lack of potassium can lead to arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat), increased blood pressure and a depletion of calcium in bones, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
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“The potassium found in oranges helps to lower blood pressure, protecting against stroke,” Flores said. Too much potassium, however, can lead to hyperkalemia which can be serious and life threatening and include symptoms of muscle fatigue and weakness, nausea and paralysis, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Flores also noted that oranges are high in folate, a B vitamin that helps the body lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is common in red meat and is linked with poor heart health.
The fiber in oranges may 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.
Orange peels: eat ’em or leave ’em??
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Orange peels are not poisonous, and as many cooks know, orange zest can pack a big flavor punch. But although orange peels are edible, they are not nearly as sweet or as juicy as the pulp. They can also be difficult to digest, and unless you’re eating a peel from an organic orange, it could be covered in chemicals.
If you do eat the peel, you’ll get a good amount of nutrients. “Orange peel actually has more fiber than the fruit inside,” Flores said. “It also has flavonoids in it that contain nutritious benefits.”
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