SUPER FOOD ? ORANGES

Apart from the obvious of being juicy and sweet, oranges have a number of healthy benefits ? primarily their high Vitamin C concentration. Just one orange supplies over 115% of your daily requirement of vitamin C.

Oranges have formed an important part of our diets for thousands of years since their cultivation in southern China through Indonesia to India. They began to be cultivated in the Middle East sometime in the 9th Century and were introduced to southern Europe during the 15th century.

The fruit was considered both a delicacy and a treat, usually around Christmas time, as they were very expensive. But they are now grown in most warm climates and are transported all around the world.

We have already covered some of the benefits of Vitamin C so it goes without saying that eating oranges is going to benefit your immune system, heart and lungs. Oranges are in fact packed with compounds that hold health benefits including 150 phytochemicals and 50 flavanoids that have been shown to be anti-inflammatory, anti-cancerous and also can inhibit the formation of clots leading to strokes.

HOW DOES EATING ORANGES HELP REDUCE CHOLESTEROL?

One of the compounds in oranges is called limonin and not only is it a very powerful anti-cancer agent it also appears to inhibit the production of ApoB (apolipoprotein) which is involved in the production of VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) and LDL (low density lipoprotein). These are the dangerous types of cholesterol and eating oranges containing limonin is a very effective way to reduce your overall and your lousy cholesterol levels.

Additionally it has been shown that certain other flavones in oranges are more effective than prescribed medication such as statins in reducing levels of LDL and without the side effects. Obviously this does not mean that you suddenly stop taking any medication that you are on and start eating ten oranges per day. However, if you are eating oranges daily and are following a cholesterol lowering eating plan, your doctor may be encouraged enough to wean you off medication over a period of time.

A single orange contains about a tenth of your daily fibre requirement and fibre is essential in the diet to clear the bloodstream of debris and fatty deposits. Not only that fibre is necessary to regulate blood sugar levels which is why oranges are a healthy snack for anyone suffering from elevated blood sugar levels or diabetes.

The fibre in oranges has also been shown to stabilise intestinal problems such as constipation and diarrhoea and is great for people suffering from chronic problems such as IBS.

ORANGES ALSO HELP WITH KIDNEY STONES TOO DON?T THEY?

Along with apple juice and grapefruit juice ? drinking orange juice can help prevent kidney stones from forming as it increases urinary pH value and citric acid excretion which is necessary to prevent the forming of calcium deposits that become kidney stones.orange

WHAT IS THE CONNECTION BETWEEN ORANGES AND RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS?

There is conflicting evidence about the benefits or effects of oranges on osteo-arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It would appear that Vitamin C in general and Oranges in particular could decrease your risk of developing the disease in the first place. If you already have rheumatoid arthritis then drinking orange juice or eating oranges every day may relieve some of the symptoms by acting as an anti-inflammatory.

Other areas that oranges have been shown to benefit us are with ulcers.

Apart from vitamin C, oranges also contain folic acid, potassium as well as calcium and magnesium.

POTASSIUM: This is the main cation (positively charged electrolyte). It reacts with sodium and chloride to maintain a perfect working environment in and around each cell. It allows the transmission of nerve impulses and helps maintain the correct fluid balance in the body. It also regulates levels of acidity and alkalinity in the body. It is also required for carbohydrate and protein metabolism. It is connected to normal heart rhythms

CALCIUM: The most abundant and essential mineral in the body. There are approximately two to three pounds mainly found in the teeth and bones. Apart from its role in the formation of teeth and bones it is also required for blood clotting, transmission of signals in nerve cells and muscle contractions. There is some indication that higher calcium intake protects against cardiovascular disease particularly in women. If you are at risk of kidney stones consult your doctor before taking in additional calcium supplements. This also applies if you are suffering from prostate cancer where there may be a link between increased levels of dietary calcium in dairy products and this form of cancer. It is thought it is thought that excess calcium causes lower levels of Vitamin D, which helps protect against prostate cancer

BUYING AND STORING ORANGES.

We are lucky here in India that we have oranges all the year round and they do not have to be transported thousands of miles. In some parts of the world a brightly coloured orange may not be down to natural pigments and may in fact be due to an injection of a colouring agent.

However assuming that your orange has not had a dye job, check for soft spots and mould. The orange should feel solid in your hand and feel heavy as this indicates that they are juicy. Smaller usually means sweeter.

You can eat whole; part of a fruit salad or as freshly squeezed juice. Always consume cut fruit or squeezed juice within a couple of hours to preserve the nutrients and you can also freeze your fresh juice until needed. They are also great included in recipes with poultry and fish.