Oranges Nutrition: Health Benefits, Risks & Nutrition Facts

Health benefits of oranges Immune system Most citrus fruits have..

Oranges Nutrition: Health Benefits, Risks & Nutrition Facts

Immune system

Most citrus fruits have a good deal of vitamin C. And oranges have high levels even compared to their tangy brethren.

Vitamin C protects cells by scavenging and neutralizing free radicals, explains a 2010 article in the medical journal Pharmacognosy Reviews.

Free radicals may lead to chronic conditions such as cancer and heart disease. Not only may oranges help reduce the risk of chronic conditions.

But they may also boost a person’s immunity when dealing with everyday viruses and infections like the common cold.

Vitamin C also helps keep skin looking beautiful, by helping fight against skin damage caused by the sun and pollution.

It is vital to collagen production and may help reduce wrinkles and improve the skin’s overall texture, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

All the fiber in oranges may help lower cholesterol levels. Because it picks up excess cholesterol compounds in the gut and pushes them out in the elimination process.

A 2010 study published in the journal Nutrition Research found that drinking orange juice for 60 days decreased low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol or “bad cholesterol”) in people with high cholesterol.

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.

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 one 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 Flores, “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 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.

Oranges are high in fiber, which aids in digestion by keeping you regular.

It is also good for weight loss. “Oranges are a low-fat, nutrient-rich food with a low glycemic index, which make it an ideal food to consume to protect against obesity. Which can lead to other diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke,” Flores told Live Science. 

The glycemic index is a measure of how food affects a person’s blood sugar levels: Foods with a high glycemic index (such as white bread) cause glucose levels to spike quickly after they are eaten.

While foods with a low glycemic index (such as vegetables and legumes) cause blood sugar levels to rise more slowly and remain more constant over time.

Oranges are vitamin A rich.

This nutrient contains carotenoid compounds like lutein, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. Which can help prevent age-related macular degeneration, an incurable condition that blurs central vision.

Vitamin A also helps your eyes absorb light, and it improves night vision.

Furthermore, the American Optometric Association reports that vitamin C can help reduce the risk of cataracts and may slow the progression of macular degeneration. 

“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. 

A 2004 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that consuming bananas, oranges and orange juice in the first two years of life may reduce the risk of childhood leukemia. 

Oranges are great for you, but you should enjoy them in moderation, Flores warned. “Eating too many oranges has some uncomfortable side effects,” she said.

“When eaten in excess, the greater fiber content can effect digestion, causing abdominal cramps and could also lead to diarrhea.”

Though oranges are relatively low in calories, eating several of the fruits in a day can add up and may lead to weight gain.

It is also possible to have too much vitamin C (more than 2,000 mg a day).

An excess of this nutrient may lead to diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, bloating or cramps, headaches, insomnia, or kidney stones.

“Because they are a high-acid food, [oranges] can contribute to heartburn, especially for those who already suffer [from heartburn] regularly,” said Flores.

People with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD, also called acid reflux disease) may experience heartburn or regurgitation if they eat too many oranges.

People who are taking beta-blockers should be careful not to consume too many oranges.

These medicines increase potassium levels and, if mixed with too many potassium-rich foods like oranges and bananas, can lead to an excess of potassium in the body.

This is a significant concern for people whose kidneys are not fully functional, as the additional potassium will not be effectively removed from the body.

Whole Oranges vs. Orange Juice

Orange juice is a very popular drink throughout the world.

One of the main differences between orange juice and whole oranges, is that juice is much lower in fiber.

This decrease in fiber seems to increase the glycemic index slightly.

A cup of orange juice has a similar amount of natural sugar as two whole oranges and is much less fulfilling.

As a result, fruit juice consumption can often become excessive and may contribute to weight gain and harmful effects on metabolic health.

Quality orange juice can be healthy in moderation, but whole oranges are generally a much better choice.


Oranges originated thousands of years ago in Asia. In the region from southern China to Indonesia from which they spread to India.

Although Renaissance paintings display oranges on the table in paintings of The Last Supper.

The assumption that they were grown in this region at this time seems to be erroneous since oranges were not cultivated in the Middle East until sometime around the 9th century.

Sweet oranges were introduced into Europe around the 15th century by various groups including the Moors. And the Portuguese as well as the Italian traders and explorers who found them on their voyages to Asia and the Middle East.

Orange trees began to be grown in the Caribbean Islands in the late 15th century after Christopher Columbus brought the seeds there on his second voyage to the New World.

Spanish explorers are responsible for bringing oranges to Florida in the 16th century. While Spanish missionaries brought them to California in the 18th century.

Beginning the cultivation of this citrus fruit in the two states widely known for their oranges.

Before the 20th century, oranges were very expensive and therefore they were not regularly consumed. But rather eaten on special holidays such as Christmas.

After more efficient means of transportation were developed. And food processors invented methods for utilizing orange by-products such as citric acid and bioflavonoids.

The price of oranges dropped, and they could be consumed on a wide scale, as they are today.

Currently, the countries that are some of the largest commercial producers of oranges include the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, China and Israel.

Is It Healthy to Eat Orange Peels?

You might never consider eating orange peels. But you do consume them as orange rinds in marmalade and as zest in baked goods.

Orange peel is much bitterer than the flesh of the fruit, but it’s surprisingly high in some nutrients, especially citrus oils such as D-limonene.

Eating lots of orange peel is likely to upset your stomach and lead to digestive problems, so moderation is the key.

Nutritional Info

Orange peel contains at least a little bit of all the major nutrients.

For example, 100 grams of orange peel contain about 25 grams of carbohydrates, 11 grams of dietary fiber, 1.5 grams of protein and less than a gram of citrus oil.

The same amount of orange peel also provides nearly 100 calories and is a good source of vitamin C, calcium, beta-carotene and many B-vitamins.

Orange peel contains small amounts of several other minerals such as magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and selenium.

Potential Benefits

A significant proportion of the fiber content in orange peel is in the form of pectin. Which is soluble fiber that helps clean out your intestines and control blood cholesterol levels.

The insoluble portion helps prevent constipation by stimulating regular bowel movements.

The relatively high vitamin C content is beneficial for stimulating the immune system and allowing connective tissue to be repaired.

Additionally, the calcium in orange peel is needed for strong bones and normal muscle function.


The compound in orange peel that may have the greatest health benefit is D-limonene — an essential oil that contributes greatly to the aroma of orange and lemon peels.

It’s a strong antioxidant and antimicrobial as well as a mild anti-inflammatory.

D-limonene may prove useful for helping to deter cancer growth and prevent cardiovascular diseases.

According to the PDR for Herbal Medicines. Although more research is needed before any scientific claims or recommendations can be made.

D-limonene can irritate mucous membranes, such as those in the eyes, and can lead to stomach upset in large doses.


Before eating any amount of orange peel. Thoroughly wash it because it’s likely to be coated with a variety of pesticides. Herbicides and other potentially harmful chemicals.

Buying certified organic oranges may be helpful, but a careful rinsing and drying is always recommended.

Starting with some grated orange peel on desserts is probably a more pleasant experience than stuffing an entire peel into your mouth, but everyone has a different tolerance for bitterness.

If the very outer portion of the peel has no appeal to you, eat just the inner white portion.

This part is called the orange albedo, and it’s a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Daniel Messer, RNutr, CPT

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