Delicious and juicy orange fruit contain an impressive list of essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals for healthy growth and development and overall well-being.
Botanically; orange is the citrus fruit belonging in the Rutaceae family, of the genus; Citrus. The family also includes other related species of oranges such as pomelo, tangerine (mandarin orange), yuzu, lemon, and grapefruit.
Scientific name: Citrus sinensis.
Orange is a tropical to semitropical, evergreen, small flowering tree, growing to about 5 to 8 m tall, and bears seasonal fruits that measure about 3 inches in diameter and weigh about 100-150 g. Oranges classified into two general categories, sweet and bitter, with the former being the type most commonly consumed type. Traditional sweet varieties include Valencia, Navel, Persian variety, and blood orange.
Photo courtesy: orphanjones
|Nagpur (India) orange.|
Tangerines are related varieties of oranges distinguished by loose, easily peeled skin (pericarp) and sweet juicy flesh (arils). They are also known as mandarin oranges in Europe and Satsumas in Japan. Just as oranges, they too belong to the Rutaceae (Citrus Family) and known scientifically as Citrus reticulata.
Fruits belonging to the citrus group described as “hesperidium,” (A hesperidium is a scientific term to describe the fruit structure belonging to the citrus group. In fact, the fruit is a modified berry with tough, leathery rind. Orange peel contains many volatile oil glands in pits. Interior flesh is composed of segments, called carpels, made up of numerous fluid-filled vesicles that are specialized hair cells).
Nutrients in oranges are plentiful and diverse. The fruit is low in calories, contains no saturated fats or cholesterol, but rich in dietary fiber, pectin. Pectin, by its virtue as a bulk laxative, helps protect the mucosa of the colon by decreasing its exposure time to toxic substances as well as by binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon. By binding to bile acids in the colon, pectin has also been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels by decreasing its re-absorption in the colon.
Oranges, like other citrus fruits, are an excellent source of vitamin-C (provides 48.5 mg per 100 g, about 81% of DRI); Vitamin-C is a powerful natural antioxidant. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps the human body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the blood.
Orange fruit contains a variety of phytochemicals. Hesperetin, naringin, and naringenin are flavonoids found in citrus fruits. Naringenin is found to have a bioactive effect on human health as antioxidant, free radical scavenger, anti-inflammatory, and immune system modulator. This substance has also been shown to reduce oxidant injury to DNA in-vitro studies. Total antioxidant strength (ORAC) of oranges (navel variety) is 1,819 µmol TE/100 g.
Oranges also contain very good levels of vitamin-A, and other flavonoid antioxidants such as α and β -carotenes, β -cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin and lutein. These compounds have been known to have antioxidant properties. Vitamin-A also required for maintaining healthy mucosa and skin and essential for good eyesight. Consumption of natural fruits rich in flavonoids helps human body protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
It is also a very good source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, pyridoxine, and folates. These vitamins are essential in the sense that the human body requires them from external sources to replenish.
Orange fruit also contains some amount of minerals like potassium and calcium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure through countering pressing effects of sodium.
Citrus fruits, as such have long been valued for their wholesome nutritious and antioxidant properties. It is a scientifically established fact that citrus fruits especially oranges by their abundance of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals can benefit in many ways. Moreover, it is now an acknowledged fact that the other biologically active, non-nutrient compounds in the citrus fruits such as phytochemical antioxidants, soluble and insoluble dietary fiber helps in cutting down cancer risk, chronic diseases like arthritis, obesity, and coronary heart diseases.
Orange fruit season begins from October and lasts until February. Mature fruits harvested from the tree using machines and thus may sustain minor superficial injuries. Such small abrasions on the fruit surfaces, however, do not influence the quality of the fruit.
In the stores, buy fresh fruits that feature firm, yet yield to gentle pressure but bounce immediately. Fresh oranges have bright color, devoid of any wrinkles on the skin, should feel heavy for their size, and impart sweet aroma. Avoid any overtly soften fruits with spots and mold as they tend to perish early.
Oranges can be kept at room temperature for a week or so. They can keep well for up to two weeks inside the fruit/vegetable compartment of the home refrigerator. Keep them loose in a fruit container and place in a cool place away from excessive humidity as they tend to catch mold infection early. Store freshly squeezed orange juice inside the refrigerator for later use. Store dried orange zest in cool, dry place in an airtight glass container away from moisture.
|Juicy carpels, inside the fruit.||Orange fruit juice.|
Carry oranges wherever you go without much cumbersome. Fresh oranges can be eaten at anytime, anywhere; just wash them under running water to remove surface dirt and any pesticide residues, peel the skin, and enjoy!
To prepare, remove the skin after scoring superficially on the skin with fingers or using a knife. Remove rind and fibers and gently peel off membranes and seeds. They usually have eaten this way. You can also slice the fruit horizontally into two halves and scoop out sections with a spoon.
Orange fruit juice is a well-cherished drink all over the world. Wholesome fruit, however, may be a healthier option since it carries high fiber and antioxidants.
If you wish to go for fresh orange juice, then prepare it at home instead of buying commercial drinks which may contain preservatives and artificial colorants. Bring the juice to room temperature if kept in the refrigerator.
The outermost part of the rind can be grated using a zester. This orange zest also has many culinary values for its flavorful oil glands.
Here are some Serving tips:
Orange fruit sections are a great addition to green and fruit salads.
Orange fruit juice can be a refreshing intra-day drink.
The fruit is also used in the preparation of desserts, jams, and jellies.
Orange zest (peel) also employed in the preparation of popular dishes as a flavoring agent.
Dried orange blossoms and leaves can be used in herbal tea.
Insecticide sprays widely applied over orange crops. Therefore, it is recommended to wash the fruits in cold running water before use. Organic orange fruits are devoid of these chemicals and are best suited for obtaining the zest. (Medical Disclaimer).
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