Vitamins and secondary plant substances: What makes oranges so healthy
According to health experts, five to ten portions of fruit and vegetables should be eaten every day to provide your body with important vitamins and minerals. Especially in the winter months citrus fruits are recommended, especially oranges.
Oranges create a sunny atmosphere
When the uncomfortable, wet, cold and grey season gets really widespread, citrus fruits from the south create a sunny atmosphere. At the top of the list is orange, one of the most frequently cultivated fruits. According to the Federal Centre for Nutrition (BZfE), there are over 400 different varieties worldwide. They differ in shape and shell thickness, colour of the flesh, taste, juice and kernel content and also at the time of harvest. What they have in common: Oranges are an important contribution to a healthy diet.
In recent years, experts have occasionally expressed criticism of oranges and pointed out that the acid in the fruit can attack tooth enamel.
In addition, scientists from the USA reported that orange juice – presumably due to the photosensitizing effect of citrus fruit ingredients – can increase the risk of skin cancer.
However, most experts refer to the numerous vitamins and other healthy ingredients contained in citrus fruits.
Strengthening the immune system
Just how valuable the consumption of oranges can be has recently been shown in studies. In a scientific study, German researchers found that orange juice can reduce the risk of gout.
And Australian scientists showed that the regular consumption of oranges can prevent sight losses.
Above all, however, orange is popular because of its high vitamin C content. Due to its high concentration, the fruit is ideally suited to strengthen the immune system. Just one fruit covers almost two thirds of the daily vitamin C requirement.
If you also consume foods rich in zinc, you have a good chance of getting through the winter without a cold.
Juice is healthier than fresh fruit
Oranges also contain a variety of secondary plant compounds such as carotenoids and flavonoids, which can reduce the risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases.
Interesting to know: A few years ago, scientists at the University of Hohenheim found in a study that orange juice is healthier than fresh oranges.
The ingredients in the juice are better released during pasteurisation than when the whole fruit is eaten and can therefore be better absorbed and metabolized by the body,” explained Julian Aschoff, a doctoral student at the time.
What is also often unknown to most consumers is that the white skin on the fruit after peeling should not be completely removed.
This is because it contains important secondary plant substances and dietary fibres which, among other things, are supposed to promote digestion.
Fruits mostly come from the Mediterranean region.
The winter oranges available from us come almost exclusively from the Mediterranean region, primarily from Spain, explains the BZfE.
Due to the long transport distances, the fruit is therefore not particularly beneficial to the climate and should therefore not be on the daily menu according to environmentalists.
Early varieties such as the seedless Navel oranges with the typical navel ripen before December. From December to March, varieties such as Pineapple or Midsweet and most blood oranges follow.
The best known representative of the late orange is the Valencia orange. It does not ripen until mid-March.
The fruits are not climacteric, which means that they do not ripen after harvesting.
Better to resort to organic produce
Experts generally recommend organic oranges. These are available in larger supermarkets, organic food stores and health food shops and can be recognised by the EU Star Leaflet or by the emblems of cultivation associations such as Demeter or Bioland.
Organic citrus fruits must be completely free of pesticides, preservatives and wax. Therefore, the peels can also be used safely for cooking or baking.
This is particularly important for Christmas baking, where pastries and desserts with a fine grated orange peel can be given a very special touch.
Organic fruits are often smaller and more irregular than conventionally produced fruits because they are produced without mineral fertilizers and pesticides.
There are no differences in taste, but according to a study from the USA, organic oranges contain up to 30 percent more vitamin C than conventionally produced ones.