Orange: The King of Citrus

Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the role that nutrition plays in our day-to-day lives.  It impacts the way we feel, the way we look, our energy, and our mood–and that’s just the begining!  Our nutrition can help prevent disease, initiate a healing process, combat stress, and more!

Do you know what makes the mighty orange a particularly important part of a smart nutritional program?  Let’s take a closer look.

Notable Personality Factors:

Oranges have long been the icon of the citrus fruits. For this reason, I like to think of the orange as the “King of Citrus.”  Oranges promote alertness and confidence, increase energy levels, invigorate, and are good for circulation. That’s why they are so great to start off a day with.  They brighten spirits, boost mental attitude, and bring hope. Fresh squeezed orange juice in the morning is truly an eye-opener.

Therapeutic and Healing Powers:***

The flavonoids and bioflavonoids in oranges, combined with their high vitamin C content, make the fruit a strong ally of the immune system. These phytonutrients and antioxidants play an important role in fighting off degenerative disease, slowing the aging process, and maintaining the immune system’s infinite potential to self-govern, self-rejuvenate, and self-repair.

Oranges’ assortment of phytonutrients and enzymes are also of particular benefit to the prevention of upper respiratory infections. What I’ve learned over the years is that oranges have a detergent action, loosening mucus in the upper respiratory passages (the exact opposite effect of mucus-forming milk and dairy). When your upper respiratory system is backed up with mucus, it can create an environment for bacteria and viruses to spread.  That’s why oranges are an essential nutritional tool in the treatment and prevention of bronchitis, sinusitis, tonsillitis, and sore throat. I regularly prescribe this citrus to combat common bacterial infections as well as viral infections such as the cold and flu. A glass of fresh squeezed o.j. goes a long way in helping to treat and prevent such nasty bugs.

It’s also important to point out that oranges are good for the arteries. They keep cholesterol low, prevent plaque buildup in the blood vessels, and are beneficial to blood pressure.

Nutrient Value:

As mentioned above, the vitamin C, bioflavonoid, and phytonutrient content of this fruit make it a standout. The orange is also endowed with respectable levels of folic acid, vitamin B1, and carotenoids. Finally, its important to note that its pectin content has cholesterol-lowering value.

Selection and Care:

The orange originated in southern China and Southeast Asia, and has become the leading fruit crop in the United States. I prefer thin-skinned California Valencia oranges for juicing, because they’re sweeter and less sharp than other varieties. For eating, use thicker-skinned navels and Florida oranges. Tangerines and tangelos have similar personality traits to their sister citrus.

Select oranges that are heavy for their size. Avoid spongy, soft, puffy, or indented oranges. Surface scars and mottling are not important, so don’t fret over these superficial flaws.

Optimal Use and Combining:

Oranges are best used for juice or cut into segments as part of a fruit salad. They combine well with other citrus fruits, such as grapefruit or pineapple. Bananas and papayas also match up. But avoid mixing oranges with melons and other alkaline fruits. Citrus and melon are a poor food combo. And although oranges agree with strawberries in smoothies or fruit salads, they don’t get along as well with apples, grapes, and other sub-acid fruits. For a gratifyingly crunchy snack, mix oranges with nuts, especially almonds, or with high-protein granola.

Finally, as with all fruits, oranges have the highest therapeutic and nutritional value when they are fresh and whole.  In other words, fresh squeezed orange juice is far superior to orange juice from concentrate, which has been overly processed and devitalized of much of its phytonutrient content.  Similarly, fresh, living, raw oranges are going to deliver far superior health benefits than oranges from a can.

***This article is not intended to treat or diagnose any type of health condition or disease. Any nutritional considerations for any health complication should be discussed with your physician or healthcare provider.

  • By PeachyPie, August 21, 2011 @ 9:33 pm

    those that live in places where citrus grows should experience picking it themselves. Citrus picking much like apple picking is a wonderful way to connect directly with what we are eating, and a great activity for children!

  • By Holly Bell, August 22, 2011 @ 2:49 am

    thanks for all of this information! I knew about the vitamin C, and Folic Acid, but not much about the other wonderful benefits. Wow! Oranges really are great and I will be sure to make them part of my regular diet..

  • By Helen Shea, August 22, 2011 @ 6:46 am

    I will have to disagree about the oranges from Florida. Those are usually the ones used for juicing and the ones from California and South Africa are the better choice (and the predominant choice at grocery stores) for eating.

  • By meltzer, August 22, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

    Hi Helen…thanks for your thoughts. I think the most important distinction we wanted to make was that Navels are best for eating and Valencias are best for juicing. Where these varieties are predominantly being grown and how they are being distributed through grocery stores may very well have shifted over the years

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