Oranges are the most popular fruit in the world. Their true origin remains a mystery, but it is believed that the era of orange cultivation began several thousand years ago in East Asia. Today, the whole world consumes these citrus fruits fresh 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. In addition to the amazing taste, these fruits have many health benefits.
Interesting facts about oranges
It is believed that oranges originated around 4000 BC. e. in Southeast Asia, and from there they spread to India, and then to other regions of the planet with acceptable climatic conditions. But even those first oranges weren't wild. Biologists say that such a fruit does not exist in the wild. Perhaps the "wild" "parents" of orange citrus are pomelo (or as it is called "Chinese grapefruit") and tangerine. By the way, until 1542 this new fruit lived, so to speak, without a name. And only in the 16th century the name "orange" was coined.
Do you know how these fruits grow? The orange tree is a small evergreen plant that grows up to 5-8 meters. Today, more than 600 varieties of this crop are known. They are divided into sweet and bitter varieties. Bitter oranges are often used to make jams, marmalades, and their zest is used to make liqueurs. Sweet oranges first appeared in Europe in the 15th century. Then this exotic fruit was brought from the Middle East by Mauritanian, Portuguese and Italian traders. Around the same time, Christopher Columbus planted the first orange tree in the Caribbean. In the 16th century, thanks to the Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon, oranges appeared in American Florida, and this tree reached California only in the 18th century, with the help of Spanish missionaries.
And one more interesting fact. In Renaissance paintings depicting biblical scenes, oranges can often be seen as food on the tables. In fact, the cultivation of this fruit in the Middle East began around the 9th century, and before that, orange citrus fruits were not consumed as food.
Today, among the most popular varieties are Korolki (red), Umbilical (with a rudimentary fruit inside), Jaffa (sweet with bumpy skin), 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 a relatively low calorie content. Despite the high concentration of glucose, these orange exotics retain a low glycemic index, which, depending on the variety, ranges from 31-51 units.
One large orange (weighing about 180 grams) provides approximately 18% of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber. The substance is presented as pectin, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Thanks to this component, citrus improves digestion and promotes the proper reproduction of beneficial microflora in the intestines. Among other things, dietary fiber is a means for effective weight loss and correction of the level of cholesterol.
Minerals, vitamins and other useful components
Oranges are an extremely rich source of many vitamins and microelements. Perhaps it is easier to list which vitamins and trace elements are not part of this fruit.
Other nutritional components include phenols and carotenoids. The former have antioxidant properties and are predominantly represented in oranges 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 is transformed into vitamin A in the body) and lycopene (found in red oranges, as well as grapefruits and tomatoes).
Another substance found in high concentrations in oranges is citric acid. It gives the fruit a sour taste. In addition to 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, it is not surprising that these fruits have come under the scrutiny of scientists. Researchers in the course of a variety of experiments conducted with the participation of people and animals, have determined the health benefits of orange citrus.
Oranges contain flavonoids, and they are known to be able to prevent various heart diseases. The proof of this is clinical research. For 4 weeks, a group of participants in the experiment were given orange juice. Toward the end of the experiment, it turned out that blood pressure stabilized in people, and the blood became more liquid. Also, scientists noticed a significant decrease in cholesterol in the tested, 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. 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 heart disease. Another component of citrus, which also has a beneficial effect on the heart, is folic acid. Apparently, an orange, if not the most important fruit for the heart, is extremely important.
Protection against kidney stones
Citric acid and citrates prevent the occurrence of urolithiasis. Potassium citrate is often prescribed to patients with kidney stones. It is worth noting that it is this substance in its natural form in a fairly high concentration that is found in oranges.
Prevention of anemia
Anemia is the result of a decrease in hemoglobin levels. Although oranges are not on the list of dietary sources of iron, which is necessary to increase hemoglobin, these fruits are ideal for supplying the body with vitamin C. And it is known to affect the gastrointestinal tract in such a way that it more actively absorbs iron from the consumed food. That is why, in the fight against anemia, it is important not only to consume iron-containing foods, but also oranges rich in ascorbic acid.
Vitamin C is a powerful tool for neutralizing free radicals, which cause many serious diseases, including cardiological and oncological ones. Oranges rich in ascorbic acid are able to 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 during the cold months. So the tradition of visiting the sick with oranges has a scientific explanation. It is enough just to remember how much vitamin C is contained in 100 grams of the fetus. By the way, thanks to acetylsalicylic acid, orange citrus fruits can be used as a natural remedy to reduce fever.
Women who didn't know about it before will definitely make sure that oranges become part of their daily menu. It turns out that this fruit is simply irreplaceable 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 and improves skin structure. And orange essential oils have long been used in cosmetology and perfumery.
The fiber found in oranges can lower low-density lipoproteins (known as "bad" cholesterol) in the body. Scientists made such conclusions after a 60-day experience with the participation of people with high levels of cholesterol in the blood. It is enough to eat at least 1 large fruit daily to notice tangible benefits for the body.
Citrus fiber helps lower blood sugar levels in people with type 1 diabetes and improve glucose levels in type 2 diabetes. For this reason, US nutritionists have included oranges in the list of fruits useful for diabetics. True, not everyone agrees with this. In Europe, for example, endocrinologists, on the contrary, advise their patients to give up oranges, as they can provoke an increase in sugar in the bloodstream.
Citrus fruits are known to have the unique property of curbing excessive appetite. That is why oranges are used as a snack in many weight loss diets. In addition, theyhave several other characteristics that make them an excellent dietary food: high content of fiber and vitamins, low glycemic level, sufficient amount of useful glucose. And at the same time, calories do not exceed the recommended norms. This is exactly what is needed 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 helps prevent age-related changes in the eyes, improve the quality of night vision, slow down the progression of macular degeneration, and also reduce the risk of developing cataracts.
American scientists have recently stated that oranges and their juice (as well as bananas) reduce the risk of childhood leukemia. Previously, researchers made an equally revolutionary discovery: vitamin C, contained in citrus fruits, prevents DNA mutation, therefore, reduces the risk of malignant tumors.
Whole fruit or juice: which is better
Orange juice is perhaps the most popular fruit drink in the world. It contains almost all the nutritional components of a fresh fruit. 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 level of the glycemic index: in juice it is much higher than in fresh fruit. A glass of orange juice contains exactly as much sugar as two whole citrus fruits. This feature prompted nutritionists to think that an excessive passion for orange juice can lead to some increase in body weight and not have the best effect on metabolic processes.
Bottom line: fresh whole fruit is still better than fresh.
Everything is good in moderation
No matter how useful oranges are, they should also be enjoyed in moderation. Excess fruit or juice leads to digestive disorders, causes abdominal cramps, diarrhea.
Signs that the body is oversaturated with oranges:
Since oranges are a highly acidic food, people suffering from gastritis with high acidity and reflux disease should be especially careful to consume them.
It is important to know that excessive consumption of oranges (as well as bananas) causes an excess of potassium in the body. And this is already a significant problem, especially for people with diseased kidneys.
Orange peel: benefits and harms
Enjoying the sweet and sour taste of oranges, the peel of these fruits is usually discarded. No, it is not poisonous. And this will be confirmed by any cook who uses citrus peel as a natural flavor. Meanwhile, it is more difficult for the human stomach to digest fruit peels. In our latitudes, eating oranges with a peel can sometimes be hazardous to health, since an exotic fruit, as a rule, is already pretty processed with chemicals on the shelves.
However, pure zest is a source of many beneficial substances. In particular, orange peel 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 rind (the white) and leave the outer hard shell. Despite the fact that the white part of the fruit between the skin and the pulp 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 pulp of an orange.
Orange peel can also 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.
Would you like to choose the most juicy and delicious fruit? Then remember that:
- ripe fruit is usually quite heavy, strong and fragrant;
- the larger the fruit, the less sweetness it has;
- fruits harvested between November and December are best stored;
- skin thickness and color do not affect the palatability of the fruit;
- fruits with thick rinds are easier to peel;
- It is better to store fruits at a temperature of 5-10 degrees.
Have you ever thought about how everything is thought out in nature? If the fruit is tasty, then, most likely, it is also very healthy. Now you know what orange citrus fruits are good for, without which it is difficult to imagine winter and New Year's holidays. But it is in the cold season that our bodies most of all need useful components from sweet and sour oranges.
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