One of the most well-known fruits in the world, oranges were first recorded in China around 500 BC. From there they were imported to the Roman empire, exported to Northern Africa, introduced in Spain by the invading Moors, and traveled to America with Christopher Columbus. Now consumed virtually all over the world, oranges come in two varieties, sweet and bitter. Sweet oranges include jaffa, navel, valencia and the hybrid blood oranges, while bitter oranges are used in jams and marmalades and liquors such as Cointreau and Grand Mariner.

Oranges are very good sources of many B Vitamins, including B1, B2, B6, Folic Acid and Panthothenic acid, as well as carotenes, pectin and potassium. More commonly, oranges are known for their high flavonoid and Vitamin C content. This combination of Vitamin C and flavonoids are key nutrients for the immune system, lens of the eye, and connective tissues including joints and gums. The most prevalent flavonoid is hesperidin, found in the inner peel and inner white pulp. Hesperidin has been shown to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as possess strong anti-inflammatory properties. The antioxidant power of oranges and orange juice has been shown to protect against viral infections and cancer. One orange is not only a good source of fiber, but is also nearly 100% of the daily Vitamin C recommendation.

When shopping for oranges, pay more attention to the weight of the orange than the color. Non-organic oranges that are uniformly colored are typically injected with artificial dyes. Look for oranges that are not severely bruised, moldy, puffy or soft. A sweet, clean scent and a "heavier than it looks" feel are indicators of healthy, juicy oranges.

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June 09, 2015