Most citrus fruits have a good deal of vitamin C, and oranges have high levels even compared to their tangy brethren. Vitamin C protects cells by scavenging and neutralizing free radicals, explains a 2010 article in the medical journal Pharmacognosy Reviews. Free radicals may lead to chronic conditions such as cancer and heart disease. Not only may oranges help reduce the risk of chronic conditions, but they may also boost a person’s immunity when dealing with everyday viruses and infections like the common cold.
Vitamin C also helps keep skin looking beautiful, by helping fight against skin damage caused by the sun and pollution. It is vital to collagen production and may help reduce wrinkles and improve the skin’s overall texture, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
All the fiber in oranges may help lower cholesterol levels, because it picks up excess cholesterol compounds in the gut and pushes them out in the elimination process. A 2010 study published in the journal Nutrition Research found that drinking orange juice for 60 days decreased low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol or “bad cholesterol”) in people with high cholesterol.
Oranges contain vitamin C, fiber, potassium and choline, which are all good for your heart, so the fruits may give your ticker a big boost. Potassium, an electrolyte mineral, is vital for allowing electricity to flow through your body, which keeps your heart beating. Lack of potassium can lead to arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat. According to one 2012 study, people who consumed 4,069 mg of potassium each day had a 49 percent lower risk of death from heart disease compared with those who consumed only about 1,000 mg of potassium per day. According to Flores, “the potassium found in oranges helps to lower blood pressure, protecting against stroke.” She noted another heart-related benefit, pointing out that oranges are “high in folate, which is beneficial in lowering levels of homocysteine, a cardiovascular risk factor.”
Oranges are high in fiber, which can help lower blood sugar levels in people with type 1 diabetes and improve blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association lists oranges, along with other citrus fruits, as a superfood for people with diabetes.
Digestion and weight loss
Oranges are high in fiber, which aids in digestion by keeping you regular. It is also good for weight loss. “Oranges are a low-fat, nutrient-rich food with a low glycemic index, which make it an ideal food to consume to protect against obesity, which can lead to other diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke,” Flores told Live Science. The glycemic index is a measure of how food affects a person’s blood sugar levels: Foods with a high glycemic index (such as white bread) cause glucose levels to spike quickly after they are eaten, while foods with a low glycemic index (such as vegetables and legumes) cause blood sugar levels to rise more slowly and remain more constant over time.
Oranges are vitamin A rich. This nutrient contains carotenoid compounds like lutein, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, which can help prevent age-related macular degeneration, an incurable condition that blurs central vision. Vitamin A also helps your eyes absorb light, and it improves night vision. Furthermore, the American Optometric Association reports that vitamin C can help reduce the risk of cataracts and may slow the progression of macular degeneration.
“The vitamin C in oranges is associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer due to preventing DNA mutations from taking place,” Flores said. Studies have shown that about 10 to 15 percent of colon cancers have a mutation in a gene called BRAF.
A 2004 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that consuming bananas, oranges and orange juice in the first two years of life may reduce the risk of childhood leukemia.
Oranges are great for you, but you should enjoy them in moderation, Flores warned. “Eating too many oranges has some uncomfortable side effects,” she said. “When eaten in excess, the greater fiber content can effect digestion, causing abdominal cramps and could also lead to diarrhea.”