Week 49: Oranges
Oranges originated thousands of years ago in Asia. In the 16th century Spanish explorers are responsible for bringing oranges to Florida, while Spanish missionaries brought them to California in the 18th century. This began the cultivation of this citrus fruit in the two states widely known for their oranges.
Oranges are one of the most popular fruits around the world. They are classified into two general categories, sweet and bitter, with the sweet ones being most commonly consumed. Popular varieties of the sweet orange include Valencia, Navel, Jaffa and blood oranges. Bitter oranges are often used to make jam or marmalade, and their zest serves as the flavoring for liqueurs such as Grand Marnier and Cointreau.
The recommendation is to eat the orange rather than to drink it as orange juice. As a fruit, all of the beneficial nutrients and fiber are present. The juice has the beneficial nutrients but it is lacking in the fiber. As a result, the juice causes a more rapid spike in blood sugar levels which causes insulin to rise and can lead to inflammation long term in the body. If you desire to drink orange juice, limit it to one 4-6 oz. glass/day.
Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C. They are also a very good source of dietary fiber. In addition, oranges are a good source of B vitamins including vitamin B1, pantothenic acid, and folate as well as vitamin A, calcium, copper, and potassium. Oranges also contain an array of healing phytonutrients.
Vitamin C Benefits: Vitamin C is the primary water-soluble antioxidant in the body, disarming free radicals and preventing damage both inside and outside cells. Vitamin C helps prevent free radical damage to DNA (thus preventing cancer), cellular structures (which can lead to inflammation), and oxidation of cholesterol (reduces plaque formation in blood vessels). It is also vital for proper function of the immune system.
Protection Against Cardiovascular Disease: The protective cardiovascular effects are due to a combination of folate, potassium, vitamin C, carotenoids and flavonoids.
Very Good Source of Fiber: Fiber helps reduce high cholesterol, helps stabilize blood sugar levels, helps with constipation or diarrhea and helps you feel fuller longer therefore is helpful with weight control.
Helps Prevent Stomach Ulcers and Reduces Risk for Stomach Cancer: Vitamin C can help lower the incidence of infections with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) the bacterium responsible for causing peptic ulcers and in turn, an increased risk for stomach cancer.
Selection and Storage:
Oranges do not necessarily have to have a bright orange color to be good. Avoid those that have soft spots or traces of mold. Choose oranges that have smoothly textured skin and are firm and heavy for their size. These will have a higher juice content than those that are either spongy or lighter in weight. In general, oranges that are smaller with thinner skins will be juicier than those that are larger in size.
Oranges can either be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator, depending upon your preference. They will generally last the same amount of time, two weeks with either method, and will retain nearly the same level of their vitamin content.
If using the orange skin for zest in a recipe, make sure that you use organically grown oranges to avoid any pesticide residues that may be on the skin.
This is a wonderful and refreshing orange pomegranate vinaigrette recipe from Rebecca Katz.