Nutrition Facts of Oranges

Oranges growing on a tree
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Oranges are round citrus fruits with a juicy, orange-colored flesh (some are red) and thin, orange skin. Oranges can be sweet or bitter. Sweet oranges, such as Valencia, navel (a seedless variety), and blood oranges are available all year through their peak season is from December to April. Bitter oranges, such as Seville, and bergamot are used primarily for the essential oils found in their zest or skin.

For example, the oil of a bergamot gives Earl Grey tea its distinctive flavor.

Oranges contain a moderate amount of carbohydrates, but they also are packed with nutrients. Aim to consume fresh oranges instead of orange juice to receive the maximum amount of fiber and nutrients. Rather than drinking juice, which can add excess calories and sugar to your diet and raise blood sugar rapidly, use a freshly squeezed squirt of orange juice to add flavor to meats, water, and vegetables.

Orange Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 fruit (2-5/8" diameter) (131 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 62 
Calories from Fat 1 
Total Fat 0.2g0%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g 
Monounsaturated Fat 0g 
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 0mg0%
Potassium 237.11mg7%
Carbohydrates 15.4g5%
Dietary Fiber 3.1g13%
Sugars 12.2g 
Protein 1.2g 
Vitamin A 6% · Vitamin C 116%
Calcium 5% · Iron 1%

*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

One small orange, about the size of a tennis ball, contains 62 calories and 15.4 grams of carbohydrate.

Keep in mind that larger portions will contain more calories and carbohydrate. Therefore, if you purchase very large oranges, you may only want to eat half in one sitting.

Health Benefits 

Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C, more than grapefruit, packing in more than a day's worth in one small serving.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that has anti-aging properties. Vitamin C also plays a role in cell repair and boosting immunity.

Oranges are also a good source of potassium, thiamin, and folate. Potassium can help to lower blood pressure. Some studies suggest that those people with the highest intakes of thiamin are at decreased risk of developing cataracts. And folate is important in fetal development—adequate intake can prevent neural tube defects. 

Lastly, oranges also contain phytonutrients that can protect cells from damage and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

I Peeled My Orange and Noticed It's Red Inside. Is it Safe to Eat? 

Yes, you probably purchased a blood orange. Blood oranges are a sweet type of orange with rough, reddish skin and streaked blood-red colored flesh. They can be eaten raw, juiced, or used in salads and sauces.

Picking and Storing 

Choose fresh oranges that feel plump and heavy for their size. The heavier the fruit, the juicier it will be. They should have unblemished skin, free of nicks. Don't be afraid of oranges that have a green rind, as the color of the skin depends on weather conditions.

You can also test for freshness by smelling it: if it doesn't smell like an orange peel, move on to the next one.

Oranges don't ripen much after they've been picked. Therefore, you should keep them in the refrigerator so that they last for a few weeks as opposed to about one week on the counter.

You can also purchase canned oranges and orange juice. If you purchase canned oranges make sure they do not contain added sugar and rinse them before use. Drinking orange juice isn't the best choice as juice can tack on extra calories and sugar, leading to weight gain and blood sugar spikes. But you can use the juice to make salad dressing or add flavor to marinades. 

Healthy Ways to Prepare Oranges

Eat oranges raw by hand or add them to salads, sauces, or desserts.

Grate or julienne the zest for sauces or garnish. Their sweet flavor and beautiful coloring can add some pizzazz to a simple chicken or fish dish.

Recipes 

Start your morning with a few orange slices to accompany your egg dish, or slice one up into chunks and add it to your yogurt or salad. Use the juice to make low calorie, flavorful sauces, and marinades.

Sources:

Labensky, SR, Hause, AM. On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals. 3rd ed. Upper Sadle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2003: 638.

Linus Pauling Institute. Thiamin. Accessed online. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/thiamin

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