Monday, October 11, 2010

Fruit of the Week: Orange

Oranges are highly valued for their vitamin C content. They are a primary source of vitamin C and they also contain sufficient amounts of folacin, calcium, potassium, thiamin, niacin and magnesium. Most of the consumption of oranges is in the form of juice.

Selection
Look for fruit that is firm and heavy for its size, with bright, colorful skins. Skin color is not a good guide to quality. Fruits may be ripe even though they may have green spots. Avoid fruit with bruised, wrinkled or discolored skins; this indicates the fruit is old or has been stored incorrectly.

Storage
Oranges can be stored at room temperature, in the refrigerator without plastic bags or in the crisper drawer for up to 2 weeks. They do not ripen further after harvest. Fresh-squeezed juice and grated peel or zest may be refrigerated or frozen, but whole citrus fruit should not be frozen.

An orange is one of nature’s “Power Fruits”. Adding an orange to your diet every day can have amazing benefits:
- Studies have shown that the pectin present in oranges can help to suppress appetite for up to four hours after eating. This means that oranges are an excellent food for dieters.
- Oranges help to activate the body’s own detoxification process and even the skin and zest of this fruit contain anti-oxidants which help to transport oxygen around the body and protect the skin from free radicals which cause signs of aging. In other words, eating oranges can help to keep the wrinkles away.
- Recent research also suggests that oranges contain a natural skin cancer fighting chemical. This isn’t an alternative to using sunscreens, but it does help.
- Oranges are an excellent source of dietary fiber and can be added to salads. Slices of orange can really liven up a boring salad, especially if you are watching your weight.
- Tests have shown that oranges contain large quantities of citrus lumonoids which are thought to give some protection from cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon.
- Limonoids have also been shown to reduce cholesterol levels in human cells. Oranges contain water soluble pectin which helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels.
- Oranges are a good source of vitamin B folate which helps to prevent birth defects and protects the heart.
- One orange provides more than 7% of the daily requirement of potassium which is needed to keep the fluid levels within the body in proper balance.
- An orange is a real powerhouse of phytochemicals which may help to prevent age related illness.
- An average sized orange contains approximately 50mg of vitamin C, which is around two thirds of our daily requirement. Vitamin C helps with wound healing and resistance to disease.
- According to a study in Finland, women who ate oranges regularly had 50% less risk of heart disease compared to those who didn’t eat them regularly. This is thought to be because the flavanoids in this fruit are helping to protect the cells.

Sources: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov, http://healthmad.com

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