New review reveals surprising benefits of THIS common fruit

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oranges-offer-surprising-health-benefits(NaturalHealth365)  With 80 million people in the United States currently obese, it’s no surprise that obesity-related chronic diseases are also on the rise.  Heart disease, one of the most deadly chronic diseases, was responsible for almost 700,00 mortalities in 2020 alone – and accounts for a staggering one out of every three deaths worldwide.

There is some evidence that citrus fruits such as oranges can provide valuable “ammunition” against the factors that trigger heart disease.  Not only are oranges high in dietary fiber and vitamin C, but they contain antioxidant compounds known as flavonoids.  A new review examines the potential of one such flavonoid, hesperidin, to support heart health.  Let’s explore the many reasons to enjoy sweet, tangy, juicy (organic) oranges.

Oranges offer an array of health-promoting nutrients

First, oranges (botanically known as Citrus sinensis) are packed with nutritional compounds that can help reduce risk factors for conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome.  For example, a medium orange contains 3 grams of dietary fiber, which has been shown to help decrease artery-clogging LDL cholesterol implicated in atherosclerosis.  More good news: A 2022 study published in Nutrition found that increasing dietary fiber caused volunteers to experience decreases in overall weight and harmful visceral fat.

A single orange also contributes 82 mg of antioxidant vitamin C – needed to produce the collagen needed for flexible, healthy arteries – along with 60 mg of calcium, a mineral essential for bone health.  Other valuable micronutrients include 35 mg of folate, believed to help prevent strokes, and antioxidant beta carotene, which helps neutralize free radicals that trigger oxidative damage and disease.  Finally, each orange provides about half a cup of water, making it a liquid-rich, hydrating food.

To put it simply: when you eat an orange, good things happen in your body.  And the orange confers these gifts at a modest caloric “cost” of 80 calories.

Researchers have deemed hesperidin an intriguing flavonoid with therapeutic potential

Flavonoids in oranges, particularly hesperidin, are gaining the attention of researchers for their beneficial effects.  In an animal study conducted by researchers at Universidad Estadad Paulista, a month of supplementation with flavonones (a type of flavonoid) showed health benefits when added to a high-fat diet, reducing both liver damage and blood glucose and drastically cutting the risk of heart disease.  “In the future, we can use citrus flavanones to prevent or delay chronic diseases caused by obesity in humans,” the researchers predicted.  And hesperidin – which makes up 90 percent of the flavonones in oranges – shows particular promise for cardiovascular conditions.

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In a recent review published in Nutrients, the authors noted that hesperidin has blood sugar-lowering, anti-obesity, cholesterol-lowering, and anti-inflammatory effects.  However, many of the most encouraging studies were performed on animals, with human trials yielding mixed results.  Researchers feel the uneven results in people may be due to the bioavailability of hesperidin, which in turn is influenced by factors such as the health of the gut microbiome.  Scientists are calling for more research to explore – and fully unlock – the health benefits of hesperidin-rich oranges for humans.

Oranges may help promote normal weight and support heart health

Hesperidin in oranges is especially effective in modulating excessive fats in the blood associated with metabolic syndrome – a major risk for atherosclerosis.   In addition, potassium in oranges gives the heart an “assist” by helping to dilate and relax blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure.  And oranges appear to make it easier to maintain a healthy weight – a “plus” for a healthy heart.

Cell studies have shown that hesperidin can reduce the accumulation of fats in fat cells derived from human stem cells.  Finally, a 2017 study published in the widely-respected American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that higher flavonoid intake is linked to the prevention of weight gain and reduced body fat.

Oranges support the health of the gut microbiome

Dysbiosis – or imbalance between “friendly” and “unfriendly” bacteria in the gut microbiome – can contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.  However, a 2017 review published in BioFactors credits flavonoids in oranges with antimicrobial properties that benefit the gut microbiome.  Hesperidin supports the growth of beneficial bacteria – such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium – while actively inhibiting pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli, P. gingivalis (the microbe behind tooth decay), and S. aureus.

“The negative effects of dysbiosis are partially compensated by hesperidin,” the researchers noted.  As a bonus, hesperidin also stimulates the production of short-chain fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory effects.

Add orange sections to salads, sandwiches, or wraps, or pair them with nuts, seeds, or olives for a satisfying snack.  You can also enjoy oranges in smoothies, which blend perfectly with almond milk, and bananas.  Don’t forget orange peel is edible and contains even more antioxidants than the pulp.  You can grate it and use it like lemon zest for a sweeter, richer flavor.  You can even use the grated peels to add an tangy accent to your favorite herbal tea.

Naturally, be sure to purchase organic oranges, especially when eating the peel.  And, of course, for some people with blood sugar concerns … check with a qualified (integrative) healthcare provider or health coach about the decision to eat oranges, as part of a healthy diet.

“Orange, you glad” that this tasty, affordable, and convenient fruit is also such a smart dietary choice?  Why not add oranges to your healthy daily diet – and reap the sweet benefits?

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