Carbs, Glycemic Index, and Health Benefits of Oranges

How to Add Oranges to Your Low-Carb Diet

Whole and half oranges on wooden board by knife, close-up
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Oranges have a moderate level of sugars, but they are also packed with nutrients. If you can, make room in your low-carb diet for an occasional serving. A fresh squeezed squirt of orange juice can add flavor to meats, water, and vegetables which can become a bit drab flavor-wise over time. Plus, the nutrients and fiber in oranges is a good addition to your low-carb diet. Here's how to add them to your low carb repertoire.

Carbohydrate and Fiber Counts for Oranges

Serving SizeNet CarbohydrateFiberCalories
½ cup orange sections8.4 grams effective (net) carbohydrate2 grams fiber32 calories
1 medium orange (2 and 2/3 inches diameter; 4.5 oz)12 grams effective (net) carbohydrate3 grams fiber95 calories

Glycemic Index for Oranges

The averages in studies of oranges ranged between 31 to 51, with an average glycemic index of 42.

More Information about the Glycemic Index

Glycemic Load of Oranges

  • ½ cup of orange sections: 3
  • 1 medium orange (2 inches to 2 5/8 in diameter): 4

More Information about the Glycemic Load

Health Benefits of Oranges

Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of potassium, thiamin, and folate. They also contain a relatively large variety and amounts of phytonutrients, which can protect cells from damage, lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and provide other health benefits.

More Information About Oranges at Calorie Count Plus.

How to Select Fresh Oranges

The perceived weight of your orange can give you a sense of how fresh it is. If it is lighter than it looks, it may be dried out or worse, lack the signature sweetness we get from oranges. That said, the heavier your orange is, the more juice is inside for the taking. Whether it's navel, blood oranges or mandarins, this simple test holds true.

The other thing you can do to test the freshness of an orange is to smell its navel. You guessed it, on navel oranges the spot is clear, but in other orange varieties give it a quick sniff, if it doesn't smell like the effervescence of an orange peel, move on to a sweeter smelling orange.

Storing Fresh Oranges

Oranges don't ripen much after they've been picked, so they are better left in the refrigerator at home. Out in the open, they will hold for a week, but you can save your oranges for up to three weeks if you keep them cold. Oranges can also be frozen if sectioned, skinned, and washed properly.

Ways to Eat Oranges

With the restrictions of a low-carb diet such as the Atkins Diet, South Beach, Zone or Protein Power, consult the specific guidelines of your diet plan to ensure that you are getting carbs from the foods you are supposed to. In some cases, for example, in the induction phase of the Atkins diet, the carbs you have allotted may need to come from vegetables. With oranges having over 8 grams of effective carbohydrate, you will have to watch how much orange you take in to stay on track.

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Leroux, MarcusFoster-Powell, Kaye, Holt, Susanna and Brand-Miller, Janette. "International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vol. 76, No. 1, 5-56, (2002).

USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 20.

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