Why is an Orange so good for you?

Oranges are from the citrus family and have long been known for their high vitamin C content and are often eaten or the juice quaffed when we are ill. It must also be where we got the name for the colour orange!

What is in an Orange?

Nutrients are based on 100 grams

  • Calories: 50
  • Protein: 0.7 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 11.54 grams
  • Fibre: 2.4 grams
  • Fat: 0.21 grams
  • Calcium: 43 milligrams
  • Phosphorus: 12 milligrams
  • Potassium: 169 milligrams
  • Zinc: 0.08 milligrams
  • Iron: 0.09 milligrams
  • Magnesium: 10 milligrams
  • Vitamin B1: 0.1 milligrams
  • Vitamin B2: 0.04 milligrams
  • Vitamin B3: 0.4 milligrams
  • Vitamin B5: 0.25 milligrams
  • Vitamin B6: 0.051 milligrams
  • Vitamin C: 45 milligrams
  • Folate (folic acid): 17 micrograms

What do these figures mean?

Using the nutritional recommendations used by the USA we can see that there are two elements of the orange that stand out. Firstly the Vitamin B1 content is 8% of your daily allowance which is a considerable amount if it is only 0.1 milligrams. Vitamin B1 plays an important role in metabolising carbohydrates and fats to use as energy as well as aiding in the function of the heart, digestive system and nervous system. Secondly, as you probably already knew, it has a very high content of vitamin C. Per 100 grams it contains a whopping 75% of the recommended daily allowance (a real cold busting fruit).

Oranges Help Fight Diseases

Oranges and other citrus fruits also contain over 170 different phytochemicals (compounds found in plants that are not required for normal functioning of the human body but have a beneficial effect on health) many of these have disease-fighting properties. These help in cancer prevention and research suggests that eating oranges regularly can, in some cases, help reduce the risk by 40-50%. The World Health Organisation says that citrus fruits such as oranges can protect against heart disease and stroke. One study revealed that the risk of a stroke can be reduced by 19% by eating just one extra orange a day. These fruit, particularly the peel, also help to lower levels of the harmful LDL cholesterol. So add some grated peel to drinks or salads. The World Health Organisation states that a single orange provides 12.5% of the daily intake of fibre and they recommend that we skip the vitamin C fortified drinks and enjoy a glass of freshly-squeezed orange, or simply eat an orange! (How simple is that?).

Don’t eat too many!

If you eat too many oranges you need to be a little wary of how much vitamin C you will be taking on board. Too much vitamin C can lead to diarrhoea which is far more likely to occur in someone who is already ill. Diarrhoea will make the body lose a lot of its water and whether the body is fighting an illness or it is fit and well, water is one of the most important ingredients the body needs.


Whilst there are some scientists that advocate more vitamin C than the RDA (recommended daily allowance) there is no doubt in the benefits of an orange with regard to the vitamin C content. Maybe we should change the saying to “an orange a day keeps the doctor away.”

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