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Oranges for immunity: Healthy or over-hyped?

Betty Gold, realsimple.com on

Published in Health & Fitness

Oranges are the poster child for immune health — many of us can barely think about vitamin C without envisioning oranges, ready to cure whatever’s ailing. But if you’ve ever wondered how much of an orange’s immune-boosting health halo is backed by science and how much was ingrained in you by your second grade school nurse, you’ve come to the right place.

Short answer? Oranges aren’t just good for your immune system—they’re great. And they offer a number of other legitimate nutritional benefits, too.

“Oranges are widely recognized as one of the top sources of vitamin C and offer 70 to 100 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin C in one orange,” says Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN. “But they provide so much more than just a single vitamin. The whole fruit boasts great benefits that have a positive effect on our well-being.” And as we head into peak cold and flu season, now is the perfect time to start eating more immune- supporting foods on the regular. (Vitamin C is an important nutrient that is not naturally produced in the body and thus needs to be consumed daily to meet the recommended levels.) Here’s why oranges more than fit the bill.

Oranges help prevent illness and promote overall wellness.

Beyond vitamin C, Largeman-Roth says that oranges are also a great source of dietary fiber, folate and antioxidants — all of which promote overall health and wellness. “The nutrients in an orange help support the immune system and offer a preventive approach to overall health,” she adds.

They’re great for skin care and cell growth.

Oranges boost the renewal of health from the inside out. “Folate promotes cell growth and healthy pregnancy, vitamin C aids the production of collagen, which helps wounds heal, strengthens skin and helps your skin retain its youthful glow, while other antioxidants found in oranges protect against cell damage,” Largeman-Roth explains.

 

They’re versatile.

Oranges are a highly versatile fruit that are a great addition to a healthy lifestyle and a healthy home. “Every part of the orange can be used for applications that span culinary exploration to DIY skin care to natural cleaning,” says Largeman-Roth. The flesh, juice and zest of oranges can enhance sweet and savory dishes, as well as beverages, cocktails and sauces, all while adding a burst of vitamin C. Orange peels can even be used in various ways around the home, including as a natural cleanser.

How to make sure you’re reaping the maximum vitamin C benefits of oranges

“Consuming the whole fruit is the best way to ensure you gain the maximum nutritional benefit,” says physician Poonam Desai, M.D., assistant professor of emergency medicine at Weill Cornell Medical School. “When speaking with patients, I recommend seeking nutrients like vitamin C from whole food sources, rather than supplements, especially with a vitamin C-rich fruit like oranges.”

(Real Simple magazine provides smart, realistic solutions to everyday challenges. Online at www.realsimple.com.)

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