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.
Oranges are low in calories and full of nutrients, they promote clear, healthy, skin and can help to lower our risk for many diseases as part of an overall healthy and varied diet. Orange trees are the most commonly cultivated fruit trees in the world. Oranges are a popular fruit because of their natural sweetness, wide variety of types and diversity of uses, from juices and marmalades to face masks and candied orange slices. An orange has over 170 different phytochemicals and more than 60 flavonoids. Many of these have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and strong antioxidant effects.
One medium orange (approximately 154 grams) contains 80 calories, 0 grams of fat, 250 milligrams of potassium, 19 grams of carbohydrate (14 grams of sugar and 3 grams of dietary fiber) as well as 1 gram of protein. One orange provides 130 percent of your vitamin C needs for the day, 2 percent of vitamin A needs, and 6 percent of calcium.
Oranges also contain thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, selenium and copper. Because of their high vitamin C content (over twice the daily need) oranges are associated with boosting the immune system. Oranges also contain choline, zeaxanthin, and carotenoids. Choline is an important nutrient found in oranges that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.
Also called the golden apple, oranges offer numerous benefits covering health as well as beauty aspects. Here are the top health benefits you can derive by eating oranges.
1. Boosts immunity
Oranges is an excellent source of vitamin C. Since vitamin C plays a crucial role as an antioxidant by protecting your body against the damage caused by free radicals generated in the body. It therefore reduces inflammation in immune related conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Although debatable, researchers suggest that vitamin C also plays an important role in strengthening immune responses of the body, protecting against recurring cold and cough or any other common infections.
2. Helps prevent aging of skin
There’s a reason why oranges are popularly used in the beauty industry. Several beauty products including face packs, masks and creams that are available contain orange extract as a key ingredient. That’s because vitamin C present in oranges also helps prevent skin damage, by eliminating free radicals. Vitamin C, being involved in synthesis of collagen, an important component to maintain skin’s overall appearance and texture, prevents premature aging and wrinkling of the skin. Apart from vitamin C, oranges are packed with vitamin A that help keep the skin membranes healthy.
3. Protects the eyes
Vitamin A in oranges helps keep mucus membranes in the eyes healthy. Available in the form of carotenoid compounds like lutein, beta carotene and zeaxanthin, vitamin A is protective against age-related macular degeneration, a vision-related condition that causes blindness. Besides, it also plays an important role in allowing your eyes to absorb the light.
4. Help to prevent heart disease
This is yet another health benefit of oranges which is attributed to its vitamin C level. Free radicals generated during various reactions taking place in the cells can trigger oxidation of cholesterol, causing the oxidized molecules to aggregate and stick to the walls of the arteries. This leads to build up of plaques that eventually block the arteries, causing heart attack, coronary artery disease or even stroke. Vitamin C in oranges takes care of these free radicals and neutralizes them, thus playing a role in preventing heart disease. Besides they also contain flavonoids like hesperidin that lowers cholesterol level and prevents the arteries from getting blocked.
5. Helps brain development
Folate/folic acid or vitamin B9 present in oranges promote brain development and keep the vital organ in mint condition. In fact, these nutrients also make orange a healthy fruit for pregnant woman as it prevents the baby from having neurological disorders later. Oranges also contain phytonutrients called polyphenols that play a role in development of learning and memory functions of the brain.
6. Helps prevent cancer
Oranges contain a compound called D – limonene that has been shown to play an important role in preventing various types of cancer like lung cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer, etc. Additionally, the antioxidants and Vitamin C help promote the body’s immunity which helps in fighting cancer cells. Oranges are highly fibrous fruits, which contributes to its cancer-protecting effect. A study revealed that about 10 to 15 per cent of colon cancer cases are caused by mutations in the DNA. These mutations can prevented by consuming vitamin C rich sources like oranges.
7. Prevents constipation
Oranges are a very good source of soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps keep your stomach and intestines healthy by preventing problems like irritable bowel syndrome. The fiber content in them adds bulk to the digested food and reduces transit time of feces, preventing constipation and straining.
8. Improves sperm quality
Death is inevitable, but our legacy may live on through our offspring. The antioxidants and Vitamin C present in most fruits, including oranges improves the quality and motility of your sperm, thus keeping you fertile. Another vitamin called folic acid also is an essential nutrient for maintaining healthy sperms that you can obtain from oranges. It also protects the sperm from genetic damage, which might lead to birth defects.
9. Great for diabetics
The rich fiber content of oranges has the ability to keep a track of sugar levels in the body, preventing diabetes. It is also a good option for those who are diabetic. Also worth mentioning is that good oranges have a sweet taste, and since diabetics aren’t allowed to eat sweets or other sugary foods, they can eat oranges to tingle their taste buds.
10. Prevents hair loss
Orange has high Vitamin C content which is required for producing collagen which, in turn, is responsible for keeping the tissues in your hair together. Nobody likes bald patches on their head, and eating oranges can ensure that you do not have to part with your lovely hair as you grow older.
11. Helps to prevent stroke
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), eating higher amounts of a compound found in citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit may lower ischemic stroke risk for women. Those who ate the highest amounts of citrus had a 19 percent lower risk of ischemic stroke than women who consumed the least.
12. May Offer Protection Against Rheumatoid Arthritis
New research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition adds to the evidence that enjoying a daily glass of freshly squeezed orange juice can significantly lower your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Data collected by the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer Incidence (EPIC)-Norfolk study, a population-based, prospective study of over 25,000 subjects, showed that study participants with the highest daily intake of the carotenoids, zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin, had a much lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis compared to individuals consuming the least of these beneficial phytonutrients. Those whose intake of zeaxanthin was highest were 52% less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, while those with the highest intake of cryptoxanthin had a 49% reduction in risk. Pretty dramatic benefits for doing something as simple as enjoying a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice each day!
13. Prevents Ulcers
Not only do oranges prevent stomach cancer, they also prevent painful ulcers from forming in your stomach. Stomach ulcers are agonizing sores that form inside your stomach and mess with the digestive process. Although they are fairly easy to eliminate, it is better to prevent them from forming in the first place. A study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that people with diets high in Vitamin C were less likely to get ulcers than people who are Vitamin c deficient. An orange contains up to 89% of Vitamin C.
- Good For Respiratory System
Oranges are loaded with beta-cryptoxanthin, a phytonutrient that may significantly reduce risk of lung cancer.
To summarize it all, getting vitamin C, dietary fiber, folate and minerals are just some of the few nutritional benefits of eating oranges. They're also a low-calorie but high-volume food that helps you feel full while working to lose weight. Select fresh, whole oranges as opposed to drinking orange juice for the greatest nutritional benefits. Enjoy!