The Orange: America’s First Health Food
It is Dr. Steven Pratt who calls the orange “America’s first health food” in his book Superfoods (Harper, 2005). It really is amazingly healthy–it’s a main source of Vitamin C, and studies show that oranges can significantly lower the risks of both cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Many of us limit our consumption of oranges to drinking orange juice. Not a bad thing, of course, but certainly a limited use of this wonderful fruit.
When used in a recipe, an orange is usually hidden. You don’t see it, but it lends a sweet, citrus-y flavor to a dish. But I think of an orange as a stand-alone food item that is best when it isn’t hidden at all. It can be peeled and eaten or sliced and served next to an entree or in a fruit salad or a glass of water.
The orange is a wonderful snack food. Slice it into discs or cut it into wedges and pack them in lunch boxes or carry a few in a baggie for a quick and refreshing snack. Add some almonds for protein and you are good to go.
The pulp of the orange contains the most vitamin C, which is why eating whole oranges is so great. Vitamin C does not remain in our bodies, so we need to replenish our supply every day. Pulp also contains pectin, which has been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels and to lower cholesterol levels. If drinking orange juice is your main use of oranges, be sure to buy juice that includes the pulp if you want to get the most benefit and look for orange juice that does not contain added sugars.
The peel of an orange is packed with nutrition. In fact the peels of all citrus fruits contain limonene which works to prevent cancer and to block abnormal cell growth. The peel or zest of citrus fruits can be frozen and used to boost flavor and nutrition value in baked goods, yogurt, salads, many poultry and fish dishes, and in iced or hot tea.