Nancy's Nutrition Corner

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food," Hippocrates.

"Ordinary" Oranges

More than just an excellent source of vitamin C, recent research has revealed that the health benefits of oranges are actually due to a myriad of phytochemical compounds. An orange has over 170 different nutrients, many of which have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory effects. The phytochemicals most currently in the spotlight include citrus flavanones, polyphenols, and limonoids.

Citrus Flavanones
While more than 60 different flavanoids have been identified in citrus fruits, most research has been centered on one: herperidin. It has been found that herperidin has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Most of this compound is found in the inner white pulp, so be sure to eat that part, slightly bitter though it is!

Oranges are rich with polyphenols - over 4000 different structures have been identified. They have been shown to have a diverse range of antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic effects.

Oranges are also dense in limonoids, which scientists believe may aid in the prevention of many types of cancer.

Vitamin C…..More Than Just Protection against Scurvy!
Studies of populations have revealed a significant association between dietary vitamin C intake and protection against heart disease. Vitamin C acts as a water soluble antioxidant in the body, squelching free radicals and preventing damage to our cells and tissues. This action also helps to prevent the activation of the inflammatory cascade and reduces the severity of conditions like arthritis. In addition, vitamin C is required for the production of collagen and is therefore involved in tissue growth and repair—hence it is essential for the development of healthy ligaments and tendons, teeth, skin and blood vessels. Vitamin C also plays a crucial role in the proper functioning of a healthy immune system.

With so many health benefits, and such great flavor, oranges are the perfect snack this time of year!

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Nancy Silva, ND is a licensed naturopath with a penchant for good food. Her monthly column discusses the nutritional aspects of some of the foods available through LocalHarvest. You can contact Nancy from her listing on our website.

Back to the February 2008 Newsletter