Oranges are pretty awesome. They're convenient, they're tasty and—most important—they're good for you. Oranges have long been a halftime staple for athletes, and an orange makes for a great snack at any time. Here are seven amazing benefits of regularly eating oranges.
1. Oranges Keep Your Eyes Healthy and Your Vision Sharp
Perhaps the most impressive nutritional aspect of oranges is their remarkably high vitamin C content. An average-sized orange contains 116 percent of your daily value.
Vitamin C has great benefits for eye health, no pun intended. C helps you see by reducing your risk of cataracts, promoting healthy ocular blood vessels and slowing the progression of age-related macular degeneration.
Oranges are also high in beta-carotene, a compound our bodies use to make vitamin A, which helps us see in low light conditions. Vitamin A deficiency is the No. 1 cause of preventable blindness in children. Each year, an estimated 250,000-500,000 children go blind due to vitamin A deficiency.
2. Oranges Reduce the Risk of Stroke
The consumption of flavanones, a compound found in citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits, has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of ischemic stroke. Ischemic strokes occur when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain becomes obstructed, and they account for about 87 percent of all strokes.
The finding was the result of a massive study conducted at Norwich Medical School, which analyzed the food consumption of nearly 70,000 women over a 14-year period. After adjusting for additional factors, the researchers found that the women who consumed the greatest amounts of flavanones had a 19-percent lower risk of ischemic stroke than the women who consumed the least amount of flavanones. For the women in this study, flavanone consumption typically came in the form of oranges, orange juice, grapefruits and grapefruit juice.
Vitamin C consumption might also help protect against hemorrhagic stroke, a less common variety of stroke but one that's often more deadly. A recent study found that on average, those who had experienced a hemorrhagic stroke had depleted levels of vitamin C, while those who had not experienced a stroke had normal levels.
3. Oranges Assist with Appetite Control
Oranges are a solid source of fiber. A single fruit contains 12 percent of your daily value.
A diet high in fiber has numerous benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, it helps normalize bowel movements, lowers cholesterol levels, controls blood sugar, maintains bowel health and aids in achieving a healthy weight. The Harvard School of Public Health states that fiber appears to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
One of the most interesting effects of fiber is that it slows down digestion, which helps you feel fuller longer after you eat. This can be a great benefit for people who want to cut calories and lose weight—or for anyone looking for an afternoon snack to hold them over until dinner.
RELATED: Is Orange Juice Actually Healthy?
4. Oranges Fight Cancer
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, dietary fiber "convincingly" lowers the risk of colorectal cancer while fruits in general "probably" lower the risk of lung, stomach, mouth, pharynx, larynx and esophagus cancer.
Citrus limonoids—a compound found in citrus fruits such as oranges—have shown impressive cancer-fighting capabilities in lab tests, including an ability to combat cancers of the lung, breast, stomach, colon, skin and mouth.
5. Oranges Promote Healthy Skin
Healthier skin might be an orange a day away. Oranges are positively packed with vitamin C, which helps your body synthesize collagen, a protein that's crucial for building healthy skin. Oranges' high beta-carotene content also helps your body create and process vitamin A, which aids in skin cell growth.
6. Oranges Keep Your Blood Vessels Healthy
A new study conducted at the University of Colorado, Boulder has discovered that taking a vitamin C supplement daily could have big benefits in preventing vascular disease.
The researchers monitored the activity levels of ET-1 in obese participants. ET-1 is a vessel-constricting protein, and overweight and obese adults have an elevated activity of ET-1. This makes their vessels more likely to constrict and increases their risk of vascular disease.
Exercise has long been known as one way to reduce ET-1 activity. However, researchers found that participants who took a daily vitamin C supplement (500mg/day) reduced their vessel constriction just as much as participants who began walking for exercise.
Although the study was small, and exercise is certainly still the better overall option, the results bode well for vitamin C's ability to promote optimal blood vessel health.
7. Oranges Help Repair your Body
The vitamin C in oranges is important for growing and repairing tissue all over the body. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, vitamin C helps heal wounds and maintain healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin C also supports the production of collagen, which is needed to make cartilage, ligaments, tendons, blood vessels and skin.
It's also been found that consuming vitamin C on a regular basis might have a beneficial effect in recovering from demanding exercise. A two-week study found that participants who consumed 400mg of vitamin C daily (an average-sized orange contains about 70mg) experienced improved muscle function and decreased muscle soreness following exercise.