Happy Wednesday! Oranges have been in season here in beautiful Orange County! My dear staff, Allexis, has been sharing her incredibly sweet oranges from her garden with us, and I have been amazed at the incredibly refreshing flavor and health benefits from the zest to the pith.
Oranges, are an excellent source of vitamin C, a key antioxidant to reverse oxidative stress, neutralize free radicals and boost the immune system! Food sources of vitamin C have excellent bioavailability! We could all use more immune support this time of year with all the viruses going around! Vitamin C is also important for collagen production and radiant skin!
What amazes me is the zest has incredible flavor and healthy benefits too! Orange zest is loaded in polyphenols and antioxidants! So before eating an orange, be sure to zest it and spinkle the zest on salads!
The pith is the white part between the peel and the fruit. As you’re eating the orange, go ahead and dig your teeth into the pith and you’ll actually be getting a whole lot of additional nutrients! Although a bit bitter, the pitch is a rich source of fiber, calcium, vitamin C and immune-boosting flavonoids! It contains a flavonoid called hesperidin, which is good for blood vessels and reducesinflammation.
Another flavonoid found in oranges, including the pith and peel as well as the fruit is naringenin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Oranges do have some natural fruit sugars, so they are best consumed at the end of a meal (perfect desert!) No wonder they say “fruit is nature’s candy!” I recommend eating the whole orange, from the zest to the pith (at least a little pith!) to get all the health benefits. The fiber in the orange helps reduce the glycemic index. It’s preferable to eat the whole fruit rather than juicing it to prevent a spike in the blood sugar and insulin levels. And remember, the fiber is food for all the good bacteria in your gut microbiome.
Rajsree Nambudripad, MD