Oranges provide a significant amount of nutrients while remaining low in calories, making them a nutritious food choice. Each medium orange contains about 62 calories and provides at least trace amounts of all of the essential vitamins except vitamins B-12 and K. A medium orange provides at least 5 percent of the daily value for folate, thiamine and vitamins A and C. You can minimize any nutrient losses by storing oranges in the refrigerator instead of on the counter and using them within a few days of purchasing them.
Eat just one medium orange, and you'll meet your vitamin C needs for the day. This orange provides 116 percent of the DV for vitamin C, which you need for healing wounds, forming collagen and keeping your bones and teeth healthy. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant, helping protect your cells from damage by compounds called free radicals and possibly lowering your risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, clogged arteries, gallbladder disease and certain types of cancer, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Folate and Thiamine
You'll get 10 percent of the DV for folate and 8 percent of the DV for thiamine each time you eat a medium orange. Folate is important for forming DNA, cell division and preventing neural tube birth defects, and thiamine is necessary for turning the carbohydrates you eat into energy, conducting nerve signals and contracting your muscles.
You need vitamin A for healthy vision, bone and tooth development, reproduction, and healthy skin. Each medium orange provides 6 percent of the DV for this essential vitamin. At least part of this vitamin A is in the form of beta carotene, or provitamin A, which acts as an antioxidant to limit cell damage.
Oranges also provide trace amounts of riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and vitamin B-6, all of which you need for digesting your food and turning it into energy, and vitamin E, which is essential for forming red blood cells and preventing blood clots. Each orange only contains 1 to 4 percent of the DV for these vitamins, however, so you'll need to eat plenty of other foods containing these nutrients to meet your recommended intake for the day. Oranges also provide a small amount of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Each orange contains about 3 percent of the recommended 6 grams per day for lowering your risk for a vision problem called macular degeneration.
- Health-Alicious-Ness.com: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool: Oranges Raw All Commercial Varieties
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Folate
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
- MedlinePlus: Thiamin
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamins
- The New York Times: Preserving the Nutrients of Food With Proper Care
- Linus Pauling Institute: Carotenoids
- Photo Credit anna1311/iStock/Getty Images
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