Juicy and sweet and renowned for its concentration of vitamin C, oranges make the perfect snack and add a special tang to many recipes; it is no wonder that they are one of the most popular fruits in the world. Unfortunately not most Ghanaians take orange as part of meals though it abounds in the country and relatively cheaper too.
Delicious and juicy orange fruit contains an impressive list of essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals for normal growth and development and overall well-being especially for children.
Orange is a tropical to semitropical, evergreen, small flowering tree growing to about 5 to 8 m tall and bears seasonal fruits that measure about 3 inches in diameter and weighs about 100-150 g.
Some health benefits of oranges
• Nutrients in oranges are plentiful and diverse. The fruit is low in calories, contains no saturated fats or cholesterol, but is rich in dietary fibre, pectin, which is very effective in persons with excess body weight. Pectin, by its action as bulk laxative, helps to protect the mucous membrane of the colon by decreasing its exposure time to toxic substances as well as by binding to cancer causing chemicals in the colon. Pectin has also been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels by decreasing its re-absorption in the colon by binding to bile acids in the colon.
• Oranges, like other citrus fruits, is an excellent source of vitamin C (provides about 60% of DRI); Vitamin C is a powerful natural antioxidant. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the blood. It is particularly good to eat oranges in the rainy season.
• Orange fruit contains a variety of phytochemicals. Hesperetin and Narigenin are flavonoids found in citrus fruits. Naringenin is found to have a bio-active effect on human health as antioxidant, free radical scavenger, anti-inflammatory, and immune system modulator. This substance has also been shown to reduce oxidant injury to DNA in vitro studies.
• Oranges also contain very good levels of vitamin A, and other flavonoid antioxidants such as alpha and beta-carotenes, beta-cryptoxanthin, zea-xanthin and lutein. These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties. Vitamin A is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is essential for vision. Consumption of natural fruits rich in flavonoids helps body to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
• It is also a very good source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, pyridoxine, and folates. These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish.
• Orange fruit also contains a very good amount of minerals like potassium and calcium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure through countering sodium actions.
Citrus fruits, as such, have long been valued for their wholesome nutritious and antioxidant properties. It is scientifically established that citrus fruits, especially oranges, by virtue of their richness in vitamins and minerals, have many proven health benefits. Moreover, it is now beginning to be appreciated that the other biologically active, non-nutrient compounds found in citrus fruits such as phyto-chemical antioxidants, soluble and insoluble dietary fibre have been found to be helpful in reduction in the risk for cancers, many chronic diseases like arthritis, and from obesity and coronary heart diseases.
I will encourage everyone to grab an orange as part of meals for better health. Remember a healthy nation is a prosperous nation.
Story by Felix Appiah-Ankam / CIGMAG – Assin, Central Region/ [email protected]