Once reserved as a holiday and special occasion fruit, due to its high cost, oranges are now one of the most popular fruits around the world. Just one serving of this citrus fruit has 92% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C!
Did you know that nutrients with oranges can fight off many types of cancer, prevent rheumatoid arthritis, and stop the development of stomach ulcers? Adding oranges to your diet is a simple change that can make an enormous impact on your health!
The Power of Vitamin C
The Vitamin C in oranges is the main water-soluble antioxidant in your body. It can protect your cells and DNA from damage caused by free radicals. Damaged DNA can lead to cancer. Vitamin C is linked with a lower risk of colon cancer because it protects the DNA of the digestive tract from cancer-causing mutations.
Free radical damage can also lead to inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation is often associated with painful diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and osteoarthritis. The anti-inflammatory nature of vitamin C provides relief for patients suffering from these diseases.
Vitamin C can also prevent cholesterol from sticking to the artery walls of your heart by stopping the oxidation of cholesterol caused by free radicals.
Think Fruit, Not Supplements
An Italian study from researchers in the Division of Human Nutrition at the University of Milan, Italy, reported in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that getting vitamin C from the fruit of an orange or its juice is better than taking a vitamin C supplement. The DNA of participants were protected from free radical damage when they drank a glass of orange juice, but not when they took vitamin C supplements.
Don’t Throw Away the Peel
The skin of an orange is packed with polymethoxylated flavones (PMFs). PMFs can lower your cholesterol just as well as prescription medications, like statins, but they can do it without any side effects!
While more research is needed to determine the exact amount of orange peel you need each day to reduce cholesterol levels, adding one tablespoon of orange peel into your favorite dishes is an excellent way to start. Use grated orange peel to give a healthy and delicious boost to rice, oatmeal, salad dressing, marinades, or brewed tea.
Heavier is Better
Many varieties of oranges are available in local grocery stores from winter through late summer. There are three main groups of oranges on the market today: sweet oranges, mandarin oranges, and bitter oranges.
Sweet oranges are the type that many of us are familiar with. Most varieties are baseball sized with orange skin and orange or red flesh. They are easy to peel and can be eaten out-of-hand. Mandarin oranges are smaller and usually have a loose skin that comes off easily. Thier convenient size and ease of preparation make them an excellent snack.
Bitter oranges, such as Bergamot and Seville, have a highly acidic fruit which makes them difficult to digest. These oranges are most often used to make jams and jellies or to give flavor to liqueur and marinades. Their zest is dried and used in tea blends and their essential oils are often used for aromatherapy.
When shopping for oranges to eat, ignore the color. Perfectly ripe and delicious oranges could have peels that are still a bit green or patchy. Choose an orange that feels heavy for its size and has a smooth skin. If an orange appears to be bruised, feels mushy, or has any strong indents or mold, do not buy it.
Oranges will last the longest if they are stored in the refrigerator, about two weeks. However, it is best to store them in a perforated plastic bag at room temperature. Room temperature oranges are juicier and will stay fresh for up to one week. Check your oranges daily to make sure they are free from mold. While whole oranges cannot be frozen, orange juice and orange zest can be stored in the freezer for up to one year without losing any of their valuable nutrients.
Sweet and mandarin oranges can be peeled with your fingers if the skin is loose and thin or with a knife if it is thick. Bitter oranges usually need to be peeled with a knife or vegetable peeler.
To use the peel, carefully wash the skin and then cut it into strips with a sharp knife or use a vegetable peeler to remove sections of the peel while it is still on the orange.
Use an orange zester to remove the orange zest. Once you have dealt with the peel, try to remove as much of the pith (the white layer under the skin) as possible, as it has a sharp bitter taste.
Juice an orange by rolling it on the counter or between your hands using gentle pressure, then cut the orange in half and use a juicer or squeeze the orange with your hands to collect the juice.
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