The health benefits of oranges go well beyond vitamin C
If the word “orange” were to pop up during a game of Catch Phrase, there’s a hard chance the first clue you’d scream to your teammates after “round fruit” is “vitamin C.” And while this definitive, good-for-you quality of all navels, cara caras, and valencias (all different varieties of oranges, btw) would definitely score you the winning point, it’s not the only health benefit of oranges. “The beauty of an orange is the combination of all of its nutrients–it’s the package,” says Keri Gans, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N, a Shape Brain Trust member. Here’s exactly what’s included in this softball-sized fruit, plus easy ways to incorporate it into your diet when you don’t want to eat a slice straight up.
Yes, oranges are loaded with vitamin C.
You first learned this fact back in your middle school health class, but it’s worth repeating. One of the most significant health benefits of oranges is their vitamin C content, which is about 70 milligrams, or 93 percent of the recommended dietary allowance, in a medium-sized fruit, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This potent antioxidant may help strengthen the immune system by stimulating the production and improving the function of white blood cells, including the specific cells that attack foreign bacteria and viruses, and increasing levels of existing antibodies that help fight off foreign antigens, according to research. This antioxidant-power also helps block some of the damage caused by free radicals, which are made when you’re exposed to tobacco smoke or radiation and can lead to skin aging, cancer, heart disease, and arthritis over time, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). (BTW, vitamin C can do wonders for your skin too.)
Aside from the nitty-gritty health benefits of oranges, the fruit’s vitamin C can make you feel *and* look your best. The nutrient plays a key role in the absorption of iron, which helps make red blood cells. Without absorbing adequate amounts of iron, there’s a good chance you’ll feel sluggish and tired, says Gans. Plus, vitamin C may help you achieve that sought-after healthy glow by helping your body produce collagen–a protein that’s essential to keeping your skin smooth, firm, and strong, she adds. How? The nutrient helps stabilize the collagen molecule structure, stimulates messenger RNA molecules, and tells the skin’s fibroblasts (the cells in your connective tissue) to create collagen, according to an article in the journal Nutrients.