Oranges are the perfect snack during the day. Nothing snaps me out of a mid-day daze like a sweet, juicy orange. They, quite literally, brighten your day. And, there are so many varieties to choose from, it’s hard to ever get bored of them. Some are sweeter, others are tangy. Some are filled with blood (the blood orange), while others are lighter shades or orange. They’re an endlessly entertaining fruit.
Snacking on them is a great way to get some raw food into your diet, and add a whole lot of essential vitamins and nutrients, as well. Try grabbing one on your way out the door instead of that highly processed snack bar – oranges are cheaper, anyways!
Orange History and Culture
Oranges were initially cultivated in China and Southeast Asia many thousands of years ago. Oranges were also grown in Persia around the 11th century, but these were so bitter that they were largely inedible. They were primarily used for medicinal purposes, as a result. Around the 1500’s the sweet orange was introduced to the Mediterranean area, where is quickly exploded in popularity, becoming a highly prized food item. The sweet orange slowly made its way around the world, but would remain a delicacy into the 19th century. It was only after the introduction of new transportation technology, as well as finding ways to us their by-products, that they became a household food item.
Today, oranges are one of the most popular fruits in the world. In 2008, Brazil was the largest orange producer with 18.5 million tonnes produced. The United States produced 9.1 million tonnes, followed by India, Mexico, China, Spain, and Iran.
Orange Health and Nutrition
Of course, oranges are known for their high vitamin C content. Vitamin C is important to have in your daily diet, as it is water soluble and, as such, it cannot be stored in the body. It works in all sorts of capacities in the body, as well as acting as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are proven cancer fighters, as they suppress free radicals, which cause oxidative damage to cells. These cells become stressed, and have difficult replicating themselves, increasing the chance of mutations resulting in cancer. So, lot’s of vitamin C is a good thing!
Oranges have a lot of other valuable nutrients. It was a good amount of dietary fiber, folates, potassium, and even a bit of vitamin A. They also have wide ranging phytonutrients in them, that act as antioxidants to promote overall health. Some of these have properties that protect the heart, as well, as they have anti-inflammatory properties. Excessive inflammation in the cardiovascular system is directly linked to heart disease, so these phytonutrients are good to have around.
Eating More Oranges
As stated earlier, grab one on the way out the door every day. Throw in an apple, too, for good measure. Many people consume more oranges by drinking orange juice – 1 measured cup of orange juice is roughly the equivalent of 1.5 oranges. Juice is arguably the best way to incorporate more oranges into your life.
When selecting oranges, make sure you choose organic. Conventionally grown oranges soak up and retain toxic chemicals in their skin and flesh, even after they’re washed. It’s worth the extra 25cents a pound for the organic stuff. Oranges need not look perfect in the traditional sense. Oranges can have green spots and still be perfectly ripe. You need to watch out for soft spots and squishiness, as well as avoid oranges with even light mold. Smooth skins and heavy weight means there is more flesh and juice than skin.
Oranges can be left on the counter at room temperature just fine. They’ll keep for about two weeks as such. Keep a bowl on the dining room table, and watch them fly!