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When the weather starts to dip and we start pulling out our winter sweaters, many of us start to bring more typical winter foods into our kitchens. From cozy soups to tart cranberry treats, there are some standard go-to foods that grace our dinner plates once the winter months are upon us.
But one shining star of the winter produce aisle that can sometimes fall off peoples’ radar? The humble orange, a true winter superfruit.
Yes, the orange citrus fruit that many of us enjoy while on vacation in sunny destinations is a winter superfruit that is oh so fresh and tasty when the summer heat starts to subside. And enjoying this citrus fruit during the cooler months can give your body a slew of benefits along with that satisfying taste that many of us know and love.
What Exactly Is an Orange?
Most of us know what a juicy, colorful orange is, and we have enjoyed the unforgettable taste that it naturally offers. And although the term orange is familiar to many of us, this fruit goes by many other aliases, thanks to the wide varieties out there. From Valencia to navel to Hamlin, the orange choices are a plenty.
Plus, other citrus fruits, including mandarins, tangerines and clementines, tend to fall under the “orange” umbrella, even though some of these choices are technically not a true orange. Among the varieties available, the Florida-grown navel seems to be the most common type used, especially when it comes to producing orange juice.
Oranges grow in warmer climates during the cooler months and are used in a variety of recipes, thanks to their versatility and unique sweet taste. So whether they are juiced, zested or simply enjoyed on their own, oranges are a winter superfruit that certainly has a place in your winter dishes.
4 Health Benefits of Oranges
Sure, oranges pack a punch in the flavor department, and including them in recipes helps elevate the flavor with that citrusy essence. But enjoying oranges also offers some pretty impressive health features and benefits that extend beyond their vitamin C content.
When focusing on navel oranges specifically, here are some exciting reasons why oranges belong on your winter plate, especially if you are trying to support your overall health and well-being.
1. Supports cardiovascular health.
Orange fruit and orange juice consumption are linked to many heart-health benefits, thanks to the nutrients that it naturally contains.
Two notable flavonoids found in oranges, hesperidin and naringenin, may be responsible for many of the amazing benefits that eating oranges and OJ has to offer. In fact, studies show that when evaluating women specifically, higher intakes of one or more of these flavonoids are associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
Plus, the potassium that oranges provide can help support healthy blood pressure, thanks to its role in maintaining fluid balance.
2. Helps strengthen immune health.
Intuitively, many people reach for a glass of OJ when they feel a cold coming on, knowing that sipping on this natural juice will fuel their body with immune-supporting vitamin C. And while it is true that orange juice (and oranges) are loaded with this key nutrient, vitamin C isn’t the only star of the immune-supporting story.
Oranges naturally contain carotenoids like beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin, nutrients that support immune health naturally. And of course, vitamin C helps stimulate the production of white blood cells, which can help fight infections in the body.
3. Helps maintain skin health.
Oranges can help keep your skin in tiptop shape in a natural way. From the vitamin C that supports collagen production to carotenoids that fight free radicals that may damage the skin, including oranges in your winter diet can give your body skin-nourishing nutrition from the inside out.
4. Manages inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is linked to some unsavory outcomes, including an increased risk of certain cancers, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. And oranges are one food that may help combat this condition. The hesperidin flavonoid found in oranges and orange juice may be to thank for this anti-inflammatory role.
How to Enjoy Oranges This Winter
If you want to include this orange, juicy, sweet and nutrient-packed winter superfruit in your diet, you can think beyond a sliced orange snack or a glass of classic OJ.
From a spicy orange beef and broccoli and a creamy orange smoothie to a quinoa orange salad, the options for orange-filled dishes are endless.
And if you are into the pleasantly tart taste, including the orange peel in your diet can offer even more health benefits because this part of the fruit is jampacked with nutrients like vitamin C, fiber and calcium. Plus, the peels are a rich source of D-limonene, a compound that has unique anti-inflammatory and potential anti-cancer benefits.
The humble act of peeling a fresh and juicy orange or pouring a glass of 100 percent orange juice can be a simple step to adding some delicious flavor to your winter recipes while adding a boost of health benefits, too.