These are the most popular fruits in the world. Their true origin remains a mystery. But it is believed that the era of growing oranges began several thousand years ago in East Asia. Today, the whole world consumes these citrus fruits in fresh form or in the form of juices, and their health benefits have been proven for a long time. It is one of the most popular sources of vitamin C, antioxidants, thiamine, and folic acid. And in addition to its amazing taste, these fruits have many health benefits.
Interesting facts about oranges
It is believed that oranges arose around 4000 BC. e. in Southeast Asia, and from there spread to India, and then - to other regions of the planet with acceptable climatic conditions. But even those first oranges were not "wild." Biologists say that in the wild, such a fruit does not exist. Perhaps the "wild" "parents" of orange citrus are pomelo (or as Chinese grapefruit is called) and mandarin. By the way, until 1542 this new fruit lived, so to speak, without a name. And only in the XVI century the name "orange" was invented.
Do you know how these fruits grow? An orange tree is a small evergreen plant that grows up to 5-8 meters. Today, more than 600 varieties of this culture are known. They are divided into sweet and bitter varieties. Bitter oranges are more often used to make jams, marmalades, and their zest is used to make liquors. Sweet oranges first appeared in Europe in the 15th century. Then this exotic fruit from the Middle East was brought by Moorish, Portuguese and Italian merchants. Around the same time, Christopher Columbus planted the first orange tree in the Caribbean. In the XVI century, thanks to the Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon, oranges appeared in American Florida, and this tree got to California only in the XVIII century, not without the help of Spanish missionaries.
And one more interesting fact. In Renaissance paintings of biblical subjects, oranges can often be seen as food on tables. In fact, the cultivation of this fruit in the Middle East began around the 9th century, and before that, orange citruses were not consumed as food.
Today, among the most popular varieties are called Kings (red), Umbilical (with an embryonic fruit inside), Jaffa (sweet with a tuberous peel), Ordinary (bright yellow).
Nutritional properties of orange
|Vitamin A||11 mcg|
|Vitamin C||53.2 mg|
|Vitamin E||180 mcg|
|Vitamin B1||90 mcg|
|Vitamin B2||40 mcg|
|Vitamin B3||280 mcg|
|Vitamin B5||250 mcg|
|Vitamin B6||60 mcg|
|Folic acid||30 mcg|
Oranges are mainly composed of carbohydrates and water, but there are almost no proteins and fats in these fruits. The predominant form of carbohydrates they contain is simple. They give the fruit a sweet taste and relatively low calorie content. Despite the high concentration of glucose, these orange exotics maintain a low glycemic index, which, depending on the variety, ranges from 31-51 units.
One large orange (weighing about 180 g) contains about 18% of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber. The substance is presented in the form of pectin, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Thanks to this component, citrus improves digestion, promotes proper reproduction of beneficial microflora in the intestine. Among other things, dietary fiber is a means to effectively reduce weight and correct cholesterol levels.
Minerals, vitamins and other beneficial ingredients
Oranges are an extremely healthy source of many vitamins and minerals. Perhaps it is easier to list which vitamins and minerals are not part of this fruit.
Among other nutrients, phenols and carotenoids should be noted. The former have antioxidant properties, and in oranges they are mainly represented by hesperidin and anthocyanins. Carotenoids are responsible for the color of the fruit. Of the substances of this class, oranges contain the most beta-cryptoxanthin (an antioxidant that transforms into vitamin A in the body) and lycopene (found in red oranges, as well as grapefruits and tomatoes).
Another substance found in oranges in high concentration is citric acid. It gives the fruit a sour taste. But besides flavoring, citric acid, like other citrates, plays a more important role. In particular, the results of the experiments showed that this substance effectively prevents the formation of kidney stones.
Given the high popularity of oranges around the world, there is nothing strange that these fruits were under the scrutiny of scientists. Researchers in a variety of experiments conducted with the participation of people and animals, have determined how orange citrus is good for health.
Oranges include flavonoids, and they are known to be able to prevent various cardiological diseases. Proof of this is clinical research. For 4 weeks, a group of participants in the experiment was given orange juice. Closer to the end of the experiment, it turned out that people had stabilized blood pressure, and the blood became more liquid. Scientists also noticed a significant decrease in cholesterol in the subjects, which is also important for maintaining a healthy state of the heart and blood vessels.
In addition, do not forget about vitamin C, fiber, potassium and choline, which are also good for strengthening the heart muscle. And all of them are also part of the chemical composition of oranges. Potassium, for example, protects against arrhythmias and reduces the risk of death from cardiac disorders. Another component of citrus, which also has a beneficial effect on the heart, is folic acid. So, apparently, an orange, if not the most important fruit for the heart, is extremely important - that's for sure.
Kidney stone protection
Citric acid and citrates prevent the occurrence of urolithiasis. Potassium citrate is often prescribed for patients with kidney stones. And it is worth noting that it is this substance in its natural form in a rather high concentration that is contained in oranges.
Anemia is a result of a decrease in hemoglobin. And although oranges cannot be included in the list of food sources of iron (necessary to increase hemoglobin), but these fruits are ideal in terms of supplying vitamin C. And, as you know, it affects the gastrointestinal tract in such a way that it more actively absorbs iron from food consumed. That is why in the fight against anemia it is important not only to consume iron-containing products, but also oranges rich in ascorbic acid.
The immune system
Vitamin C is a powerful tool to neutralize free radicals that cause many serious diseases, including cardiological and oncological. Ascorbic-rich oranges can destroy these unwanted "inhabitants" of the body. In addition, they increase the ability to resist viruses and infections. For this reason, citrus fruits are the best prevention and protection against influenza and SARS in the cold seasons. So the tradition of visiting patients with oranges has a scientific explanation, just remember how much vitamin C is contained in 100 grams of the fetus. By the way, thanks to acetylsalicylic acid, orange citruses can be used as a natural remedy to lower the temperature.
Women who did not know about this before will now make sure that oranges become part of their daily menu. It turns out that this fruit is simply indispensable for the skin. Due to its chemical composition, it stops the aging process, protects against the harmful effects of the environment and UV radiation. In addition, a few slices of orange activate the production of collagen, which eliminates fine wrinkles, improves skin structure. And orange essential oils have long been used in cosmetology and perfumery.
Fiber from oranges can reduce the amount of low density lipoproteins in the body (known as "bad" cholesterol). The scientists made such conclusions after a 60-day experiment with the participation of people with high cholesterol. It is enough to eat at least 1 large fruit daily to notice tangible benefits for the body.
Fiber from citrus fruits helps lower sugar levels in people with type 1 diabetes and improve glucose levels in type 2 diabetes. For this reason, US nutritionists have credited oranges to the list of fruits that are good for diabetics. True, not everyone agrees with this. In Europe, for example, endocrinologists, on the contrary, advise their patients to abandon oranges, since those can provoke an increase in blood sugar.
It is known that citrus fruits have a unique ability to tame excessive appetite. That is why oranges are used as a snack in many weight loss diets. In addition, they possess several more characteristics that make them an excellent dietary product. High fiber and vitamins, low glycemic levels, a sufficient amount of healthy glucose and at the same time calories do not exceed the recommended norms. And this is just what is necessary for proper weight loss. By the way, nutritionists have developed many effective diets for weight loss, the main component of which are oranges.
Thanks to vitamin A, oranges can be called a natural medicine for vision. The chemical composition of these fruits allows you to prevent age-related changes in the eyes, improve the quality of night vision, slow down the progression of macular degeneration, and reduce the risk of cataracts.
Recently, American scientists said: oranges and their juice (as well as bananas) reduce the risk of developing childhood leukemia. Previously, researchers made a no less revolutionary discovery: vitamin C, contained in citruses, prevents DNA mutation, therefore, reduces the risk of malignant tumors.
Whole fruit or juice: which is better
Fresh orange is perhaps the most popular fruit drink in the world. It contains almost all the nutritional components that a fresh fruit. But there is still a difference between them. And first of all - in the amount of fiber. If there is a lot of it in whole fruit, then in juice - a minimum. A decrease in fiber in the product affects the glycemic index level: in juice it is much higher than in fresh fruits. A glass of orange juice contains just as much sugar as in two whole citruses. This feature prompted nutritionists to think that excessive enthusiasm for orange juice can lead to some increase in body weight and not the best way to affect metabolic processes.
Bottom line: fresh whole fruits are still better than fresh, even if just squeezed.
All is well, that in moderation
But no matter how healthy the oranges are, enjoy them also in moderation. Excess fruit or juice leads to digestive disorders, causes abdominal cramps, diarrhea.
Other signs that the body is oversaturated with oranges:
Since oranges belong to high-acid foods, it is especially important to use them carefully for people suffering from gastritis with high acidity and reflux disease.
In addition, it is important to know that excessive consumption of oranges (however, like bananas) causes an excess of potassium in the body. And this is a significant problem, especially for people with diseased kidneys.
Orange zest: benefits and harms
Enjoying the sweet and sour taste of oranges, the zest of these fruits is usually thrown away. No, it is not poisonous. And this will be confirmed by any cook using citrus peel as a natural flavor. Meanwhile, it’s more difficult for the human stomach to digest fruit peels. And in our latitudes, eating oranges with peel can sometimes be dangerous to health. Since the exotic fruit, as a rule, gets already pretty processed by chemistry on the shelves.
Meanwhile, pure zest is a source of many beneficial substances. In particular, the skin of these exotics contains:
- flavonoids (have anti-inflammatory and hypotensive properties);
- vitamins A, C, B5, B6;
- nicotinic and folic acids.
One way to get all these benefits is to eat the inside of the peel (white) and leave the outer hard shell. By the way, despite the fact that the white part of the fruit (between the skin and the flesh) is bitter in taste, it also contains vitamin C. And most interestingly, its amount is not inferior to the concentration of ascorbic acid in the crumb of an orange.
Also, orange peel can be used as a natural air freshener, and the essential oils contained in it have a beneficial effect on the nervous system. Interestingly, the smell of citrus repels insects.
How to choose oranges
Would you like to choose the most juicy and delicious fruit, then remember that:
- ripened fruit is usually quite heavy, strong and fragrant;
- the larger the fruit, the less sweets in it;
- fruits collected in the period of November-December are better amenable to storage;
- the thickness of the peel and its color do not affect the taste of the fruit;
- fruits with a thick zest are easier to peel;
- it is better to store fruits at a temperature of 5-10 degrees.
Have you ever thought about how much everything is thought out in nature? If the fruit is delicious, then most likely it is also very healthy. Now you know what good orange citrus fruits are, without which it is difficult to imagine winter and New Year's holidays. But it is precisely during the cold seasons that our organisms most of all need useful components from sweet and sour oranges.