According to research findings, regularly consuming citrus fruits, like oranges, may benefit your health in a number of ways.
Helps promote heart health
Heart disease is currently the world’s most common cause of premature death.
Reading: Nutrition facts on an orange
A number of nutrients and plant compounds found in oranges, including vitamin C, flavonoids, and carotenoids, may help promote heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease if you consume them at optimal levels (16, 17, 18).
Plus, regularly consuming oranges and orange juice may help reduce heart disease risk factors.
One review of 10 high quality studies found that consuming orange juice reduced several heart disease risk factors, including levels of (19):
- blood sugar
- LDL (bad) cholesterol
- the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP)
Diets high in citrus fruits may protect against chronic diseases
In addition to protecting heart health, regularly consuming oranges and other citrus fruits may help reduce the risk of other health conditions, including certain types of cancer and diabetes.
Studies suggest that diets high in citrus fruits may help reduce the risk of several types of cancers, including (20, 21, 22, 23):
- lung cancer
- mouth cancer
- stomach cancer
- head and neck cancer
What’s more, diets high in fruits, including citrus fruits, may help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes (24).
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One study including over 7,000 Australian adults found that those with moderate total fruit intakes that included oranges and other citrus fruits were 36% less likely to be diagnosed with diabetes at 5 years, compared with people with the lowest fruit intakes (24).
Keep in mind that this study found benefits connected to eating fruits, in general, and it didn’t isolate the benefits of eating whole oranges, specifically. In addition, it didn’t find the same beneficial effects in people who drank fruit juice.
This is likely because fruit juice has much less fiber and a greater effect on blood sugar compared with whole fruits.
Although citrus fruits may help reduce the risk of some medical conditions if you consume them on a regular basis, remember that your diet and lifestyle as a whole are much more important than any one food.
Consuming vitamin-C-rich foods may help prevent anemia, a condition that occurs when your body lacks adequate amounts of the mineral iron.
Although oranges are not a good source of iron, they’re an excellent source of vitamin C, which enhances your body’s ability to absorb iron (7).
One study found that adding 120 grams of orange to meals composed of rice or flatbread with lentils or a greens-based dish called saag enhanced the bioavailability of iron by as much as 10.7% (25).
Try adding a sprinkle of orange juice to lentil and bean dishes, or adding orange segments to spinach salads to help enhance iron absorption.
May help support immune health
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Regularly consuming fruits, which are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant compounds, can help promote healthy immune function.
Oranges and other citrus fruits are excellent sources of vitamin C.
This nutrient is critical to the function of immune cells like natural killer cells. It’s likewise necessary for a process called apoptosis, in which old, damaged cells die, then are cleared out and replaced with new healthy cells (26).
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and helps protect against the process of oxidative damage, which otherwise can negatively affect immune health and increase disease risk (27).
Many other compounds in oranges, including hesperidin and naringenin, have anti-inflammatory activities.
Chronic inflammation can negatively affect immune response, so regularly eating foods rich in anti-inflammatory substances may help support immune functioning (28).
Fiber is another nutrient provided by oranges that can help promote immune health. Your body needs fiber to maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria, which influence immune system development and function (28).
Oranges may benefit heart health, reduce the risk of some chronic diseases, enhance iron absorption, and support a healthy immune response.