With their vibrant color and sweet and tangy taste, it should come as no surprise that oranges have become one of the most popular fruits in the world. But what exactly makes oranges special?
Oranges are actually a cross between a pomelo and a mandarin, another type of orange. And while oranges are known to be part of the citrus family, they’re actually berries. This is because oranges are arils, or fruits wherein a fleshy and brightly colored cover envelopes the seeds, and are separated in sections called carpels, surrounded by a highly nutritious, leathery and pocked peel.
The earliest recorded instance of orange cultivation was in Sicily and Calabria in Italy, and in southern Spain in 1525, although it was thought to have been first planted in Southeast Asia. Nowadays, orange production is prevalent in the United States, Spain, China, Mexico, Turkey, and South Africa, while it is exported from China, Brazil and Mexico.
Oranges grow on 30-foot trees, bearing glossy and evergreen leaves. They thrive best in subtropical climates where water, warmth and sunshine are abundant. This is why states such as California and Florida are well-known for their oranges. Although oranges are able to grow in cooler weather, frost and heavy freeze can damage and kill the fruits.
Discover Oranges’ Health Benefits
The health benefits of oranges are unparalleled — this is why they have become popular fruits across the globe. Oranges are mainly known for their high vitamin C content (a one-cup serving already has 165 percent of the recommended daily value) that helps you fight cold- and flu-causing germs and develop infection resistance, and works as an antioxidant that combats free radicals in the blood.
Oranges also have vitamin A that aids in keeping healthy mucus membranes and skin, and shields the eyes from macular degeneration and cataracts. The various B vitamins are also able to convert the food you eat into fuel as energy, aid in forming healthy red blood cells, strengthen your immune system, generate vital hormones, and enhance brain function and development.
Oranges are also good for your weight management goals. They help clean your colon and keep it running smoothly, and also reduce your blood cholesterol by preventing toxin buildup. If this isn’t convincing enough, take note of these studies that prove the incredible powers manifest in the mighty orange:
- A randomized, controlled and crossover study aimed to discover the effects of hesperidin, a plant compound found in orange juice, on a person’s diastolic blood pressure (DBP) levels.
- Polymethoxyflavones (PMFs) are a unique type of flavonoids found in citrus fruits. Fifteen of these compounds were segregated from sweet orange peel extracts and synthesized to know their biological activity.
The test ran for four weeks, and healthy, middle-aged, and moderately overweight men who participated in the study recorded lower DBPs and increased microvascular (small heart vessel) reactivity when they regularly drank the juice. This result was also true when the juice was consumed postprandially (after a meal).
The results showed that some compounds had moderate anti-cancer properties, while a few displayed promise in preventing development and triggering apoptosis or programmed cell death of breast cancer cell lines.
While these health benefits are clearly impressive, remember to consume oranges in moderation as these fruits contain fructose, a type of sugar that can wreck your health if consumed excessively.
How to Enjoy Oranges
There are many ways you can enjoy oranges. Apart from eating them as is, these fruits can be made into juice, marmalade and various liqueurs. The peels can also be transformed into orange zest and added to dishes for extra flavor.
To learn more about the upside of eating oranges, as well as other types of fruits and vegetables, visit Dr. Mercola’s Food Facts — a virtual library featuring all the information you need about the food you eat.