The health benefits of oranges

The health benefits of oranges

Blood oranges deliver a unique mix of phenolic compounds (bioactive nutrients), such as anthocyanins and hydroxycinnamic acids, that have positive health effects. In addition to being potent antioxidants, these compounds have been researched for their anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties and several metabolic effects that help protect against diabetes, obesity and risk factors of heart disease [1].

Besides their high levels of phenolic compounds, blood oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium [Table 1].

Anthocyanins. They are a group of water-soluble plant compounds responsible for the brilliant color of fruits and flowers. Different studies have shown an association between anthocyanins' high antioxidant activity and a decreased risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

Hydroxycinnamic acids. They contribute in the diet as antioxidant and free-radical scavengers. They have proved to be effective in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and cancer, however, their efficacy depends on the level of intake and on their bioavailability.

Vitamin C. Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is necessary for the synthesis of collagen, meaning that it is key for healing and repairing damaged tissue throughout the body. It also acts as an antioxidant and assists in absorption of key minerals, including iron and zinc. It is also needed for a healthy immune system. The vitamin C content of fresh orange is 50 mg per 100ml. According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the average requirement (AR) for vitamin C is set at 90mg for men and 80mg for women) [2].

Potassium. Oranges are a good source of potassium. High intake of potassium can lower blood pressure in people with hypertension and has beneficial effects on cardiovascular health.

Table 1. Nutrient profile of the edible portion of fresh oranges

 
 

per 150g

per 100g

Editable part (%):

80

 80

Water (g):

130.8

 87.2

Energy (kcal):

51

 34

Energy (kJ):

213

 142

Potassium (mg):

300

200

Calcium (mg):

73.5

49

Phosphorus (mg):

33

22

Vitamin A retinol eq. (µg)

106.5

71

Vitamin C (mg):

75

50

Source: Food composition tables. Oranges, Food Code 008000. The National Institute of Research on Food and Nutrition (INRAN).

Sources:

[1] Red Orange: Experimental Models and Epidemiological Evidence of Its Benefits on Human Health. Giuseppe Grosso, Fabio Galvano et.al. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. Volume 2013, Article ID 157240, 11 pages.

[2] Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for vitamin C. EFSA Journal 2013;11(11):341.

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