Oranges are a form of citrus fruit from the Rutaceae family. The most popular form of orange consumed today is a hybrid fruit that is thought to come from the pomelo and mandarin. Oranges have been cultivated for thousands of years. There are references to oranges being consumed in China in 2500 BC, and over time the fruit spread to Europe and the Americas. In 1987, the orange tree became the most cultivated fruit tree in the world.
Benefits of Oranges
It is well known that citrus fruits are a great source of vitamin C. In fact, a single medium-sized orange contains more than 90% of your RDA of vitamin C. However, this is not the only valuable nutrient found in the fruit.
This citrus fruit has a low GI value, and one medium-sized fruit contains just 62 calories, as well as 12.5% of your RDA of fibre, around 10% of your RDA of folate and 9% of your RDA of vitamin B1, as well as a good amount of potassium, copper, pantothenic acid and calcium. If you do not eat a lot of dairy products, then the extra calcium from citrus fruits will be beneficial.
Traditional wisdom suggests that vitamin C is a good cure for the common cold. However, this is not strictly true. If you eat a balanced diet, and hit your RDA for vitamin C (as well as other essential vitamins and minerals) on a day-to-day basis, then you are less likely to catch colds in the first place. However, recent studies have shown that loading up on vitamin C once the cold symptoms start to develop will not help you.
Your best option, if you want to try to stop cold symptoms once you feel them, is not to drink lots of orange juice, but rather to supplement zinc or consume foods that are rich in zinc such as nuts and green, leafy vegetables.
Oranges and the Paleo Diet
The Paleo diet recommends consuming foods that are in as close to their natural form as possible, and fruits are a part of the diet. The strictest forms of the Paleo diet tend to take into account food miles and which fruits are in season. They also advocate eating fruit in moderation because of the sugar content.
It is acceptable to eat an orange or two per day as part of the Paleo diet, but you should be mindful of the amount of fruit that you eat in general. Try to choose fruits that contain healthy fats. Avocados are a good example.
Juice vs. Whole Oranges
Orange juice is generally not considered ideal for followers of the Paleo diet. The juice contains a lot of sugars, but lacks the fibre of a real orange. Drinking fruit juices is a waste of calories that could be used for something more nutritionally dense, especially if you are watching your weight. From a nutritional standpoint, it is a much better choice to eat the fruit whole and simply drink water to stay hydrated.