Oranges are a type of low calorie, highly nutritious citrus fruit. As part of a healthful and varied diet, oranges contribute to strong, clear skin and can help lower a person’s risk of many conditions.

Oranges are popular due to their natural sweetness, the many different types available, and the diversity of uses. For example, a person can consume them in juices and marmalades, eat them whole, or use zested peel to add a tangy flavor to cakes and desserts.

This popular citrus fruit is particularly known for its vitamin C content. However, oranges contain a range of other plant compounds and antioxidants that may reduce inflammation and work against disease.

In this article, we look at the many health benefits of oranges, their nutritional profile, and how to include more in the diet.

The nutrients in oranges offer a range of health benefits. The sections below discuss these benefits in more detail.

Cancer

As an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamin C, oranges may help combat the formation of free radicals that cause cancer.

Although an adequate vitamin C intake is necessary and very beneficial, the amount a person would need for the desired therapeutic effect on cancer is more than they could realistically consume.

For example, one study concluded that medical scientists could harness the power of vitamin C from oranges to inhibit colorectal cancer cells in the future. However, the authors concede that 300 oranges’ worth of vitamin C would be necessary.

That said, in 2015, a study linked grapefruit and orange juice with a higher risk of skin cancer. Researchers found that people who consumed high amounts of whole grapefruit or orange juice were over a third more likely to develop melanoma than those who consumed low amounts. This may have been due to citrus compounds that exert photocarcinogen properties.

More research is necessary to confirm the effects of orange consumption on cancer risk.

Learn more about the powerful health benefits of vitamin C here.

Blood pressure

Oranges contain no sodium, which helps keep a person below their daily limit. On the other hand, a cup of orange juice can boost daily potassium intake by 14%.

Maintaining a low sodium intake is essential to lowering blood pressure. However, increasing potassium intake may be just as important for reducing a person’s risk of high blood pressure, as it can help support the relaxation and opening of blood vessels.

According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), increasing potassium intake can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

Heart health

Oranges are a good source of fiber and potassium, both of which can support heart health.

According to one 2017 review of previous meta-analyses, consuming enough fiber can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease both developing and being fatal. The review links this effect to its ability to lower cholesterol levels in the blood.

One cup of orange juice can provide 14% of a person’s daily potassium requirement.

The ODS found that people with higher potassium intakes may have a lower risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. They mainly attribute this to the effects of potassium on blood pressure.

Diabetes

A medium orange weighing 131 grams (g) contributes 3.14 g of fiber, which is nearly 10% of an adult’s daily fiber requirement. Several studies have found that fiber can improve some factors that contribute to diabetes development and progression.

For example, one 2019 study found that consuming 4 g of a dietary fiber supplement per day did not reduce blood glucose but improved how the body responds to insulin. Low insulin sensitivity can contribute to type 2 diabetes.

Weight control is also important for reducing the risk of diabetes, as obesity and overweight can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. The body processes fiber more slowly than other nutrients, so it can help a person feel fuller for longer and reduce their urge to eat snacks throughout the day.

Following a diet that contains a high proportion of fruits and vegetables can support blood sugar control and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and disease progression. That said, a diabetes friendly diet should include healthful foods from a variety of food groups.

Learn more about the best fruits for people with diabetes here.

Skin

Consuming enough vitamin C can help a person maintain skin health and appearance.

Vitamin C contributes to collagen production. Collagen supports the skin, promotes wound healing, and improves skin strength.

The outcome of a 2015 review suggests that dietary vitamin C improved how people perceived their skin health and how healthful it actually was, including appearance, wrinkling, elasticity, and roughness.

One medium orange weighing 131 g provides:

  • 61.6 calories
  • 0.16 g of fat
  • 237 milligrams of potassium
  • 15.4 g of carbohydrate
  • 12.2 g of sugar
  • 1.23 g of protein

The same orange provides the following percentages of a person’s daily requirement of several essential vitamins and minerals, according to United States Department of Agriculture guidelines:

NutrientPercentage of daily requirement for adults
Vitamin C92.93% for females and 77.44% for males
Thiamin10.36%
Folate9.83%
FiberAt least 9.34%, depending on age and sex
CalciumBetween 4.36% and 5.24%, depending on age
Potassium5.04%

Oranges also contain choline and zeaxanthin.

Choline is an important nutrient in oranges that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory. Choline also aids the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat, and reduces chronic inflammation.

Zeaxanthin is a type of carotenoid antioxidant that can reduce inflammation. According to a 2019 review, it can positively benefit heart, liver, skin, and eye health.

It is best to pick oranges at the peak of their ripeness. Unlike some other fruits, they do not ripen or improve in quality after picking. People should store oranges at room temperature and away from direct sunlight.

It can be hard to find ripe fruits and vegetables in the winter. However, this is the perfect time to buy citrus fruits. Winter is the peak season for oranges and other citruses.

There are several different types of orange available, including:

  • navel
  • mandarin
  • Cara Cara
  • blood oranges
  • Valencia
  • Seville
  • Jaffa

Here are some tips for using orange in the diet:

  • Keep a bowl on the kitchen table or counter stocked with fresh fruit from the season. Seeing fruits readily available will likely influence people to choose them as a snack, rather than raiding the cupboards for a less healthful option.
  • Make a fruit salad using strawberries, pineapple, mandarin oranges, and grapes.
  • Add some orange slices to a salad at lunch or dinner. Complement the oranges with walnuts or pecans, a crumbled cheese, and a light balsamic or citrus vinaigrette dressing.
  • Make homemade juice. Freshly squeezed orange juice can be a flavorful, refreshing, and nutritious addition to a person’s morning routine. Squeezing orange juice at home will mean that there are no added preservatives or sweeteners.

People with gastroesophageal reflux disease may experience an increase in symptoms such as heartburn and regurgitation when consuming citrus fruits. This is due to their high acid content.

A person can achieve and maintain good health by eating a varied diet that contains many different types and groups of food.