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The power of orange

The citrus fruit is a storehouse of several beneficial vitamins, writes Insiya Amir.

health and fitness Updated: Mar 13, 2007 12:59 IST

The most common citrus fruit, orange, is a storehouse of several beneficial vitamins and nutrients. From the skin to the fibre, an orange is healthy to the core.

Vitamin C booster Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C — one orange contains 116.2 per cent of the daily requirement for vitamin C.

Vitamin C is the primary water-soluble antioxidant in the body. It fights free radicals and prevents cell damage. A potential result of free radical damage to cells is cancer, especially in areas where cell division is rapid like the digestive system. This is why vitamin C is associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer.

Free radical damage to other cells can result in painful inflammation. Vitamin C prevents free radical damage and is thus associated with reduced severity of inflammatory conditions like asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Free radicals oxidise cholesterol that make it stick to the walls of arteries building up plaque.

Since vitamin C neutralises free radicals, it helps prevent oxidation of cholesterol. Vitamin C is also vital for the proper function of the immune system and helps prevent colds and recurrent ear infections.

Healing phytonutrients in oranges Oranges contain a wide variety of phytonutrient compounds. These phytonutrients, when combined with vitamin C, work as effective anti-oxidants.

Another phytonutrient, herperidin, found in oranges has been shown to lower blood pressure as well as cholesterol, and also has anti-inflammatory properties.

For a healthy heart, and a healthy body:
Various studies have shown that a diet high in citrus fruits provides protection against some types of cancer.

Citrus is most effective against mouth, larynx and phar ynx, and stomach cancers. The folate content of oranges protects against heart disease and potassium lowers blood pressure and protects against stroke.

Oranges are rich in nutrients but have a low glycaemic index, which means that they are effective in fighting fat, conditions which increase the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke.

Skin deep Compounds found in the citrus fruit peels help lower cholesterol more effectively than some prescription drugs, and without side effects. Although a variety of citrus fruits contain these cholesterol-lowering compounds, they are most abundant in peels of oranges.

Juices of citrus fruits also contain these compounds. Fibre for health Oranges contain large amounts of fibre — one orange provides 12.5 per cent of the daily requirement of fibre — which reduces high cholesterol levels.

Fibre is also helpful in keeping blood sugar levels under control and thus oranges are a healthy snack for people with diabetes. In addition, fructose in oranges helps keep blood sugar levels from rising after eating.

The fibre in oranges is also helpful in reducing constipation or diarrhoea.

Orange juice is helpful in preventing kidney stones and relieving inflammation. So just peel it or squeeze it, oranges are the way to go.