Frugal Food: Oranges

As part of Nutrition to Fit’s Frugal Food Favorites series, each week we highlight a favorite affordable food and all of its nutritional benefits, in addition to ways and recipes to include it in your life! This week is all about oranges!

I am so pumped to get this series started with a Florida fruit that is very popular and in season right now – oranges! Let’s check out some of the health and nutritional benefits.

Heart Healthy

Oranges are naturally low in sodium, plus they’re high in potassium which can help balance blood pressure by balancing out high sodium. The soluble fiber pectin in oranges helps cholesterol from being absorbed – think of the fiber like a giant sponge that absorbs the cholesterol instead of your body. (FYI this is found in the pulp and pith of the fruit, so if you’re just drinking the juice drink it with pulp! Or just eat an orange.)

Digestive Health

That same soluble fiber that absorbs cholesterol also absorbs liquid in the gut, which turns it into a thicker, kind of gel-like substance that slows digestion so your body can absorb more nutrients as the food passes through. Additionally, oranges are very water-based and very hydrating! The water oranges contain will also help aid digestive health.

Low Glycemic Index

In essence, the glycemic index is a scale that shows the impact a food has on blood sugar. The scale goes from 0-100 and the higher the number, the more it affects your blood sugar (AKA you’ll have a bigger blood sugar spike). Oranges have a lower glycemic index number, so they won’t have as dramatic an impact on your blood sugar, keeping your blood glucose level a little more stable.

Good Source of Folate

Folate, or folic acid, is an important nutrient, but especially so when you’re pregnant. You want to make sure you’re consuming adequate folic acid in pregnancy because it helps prevent neural tube defects. These are serious birth defects that can affect the spine (like spina bifida) and brain (like anencephaly).

Antioxidants

Everyone always talks about vitamin C and its antioxidant punch when they talk about oranges! And for good reason. A medium-sized orange has over 90% of the recommended daily value for vitamin C intake. These antioxidants can help contribute to anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and immune boosting properties as they neutralize free radicals.

There are many ways you can enjoy oranges in your diet. Try it for a quick snack (very easy to throw into your purse or kid’s back pack) – pair with cheese or nuts for a more filling, balanced snack. You can add it to dishes like stir fries, oatmeal, parfaits, smoothies, and more. Here are some recipes I’ve found that get a dietitian’s seal of approval and are affordable and easy to make!

Halos Mandarin Orange French Toast by Amy Gorin, Registered Dietitian at Amy Gorin Nutrition

Avocado and Citrus Salad by Amanda Hernandez, Registered Dietitian at The Nutritionist Reviews

Clementine Cutie Creamsicle Smoothie by Lindsey Janeiro, Registered Dietitian at Nutrition to Fit (note: orange segments can be substituted for clementines)

Honey Orange Roasted Carrots by Toria Frederick on Super Healthy Kids

Chocolate Dipped Oranges by Amy Roskelley on Super Healthy Kids

Cinnamon Oranges on EatingWell

Easy & Skinny Spicy Orange Chicken by Amy at Amy’s Healthy Baking

 

How are you inspired to incorporate oranges into your diet? Any favorite recipes?

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I'm Lindsey! I'm passionate about helping you find healthy habits and nutrition that fit your life - not the other way around!

by LINDSEY JANEIRO, RDN, CLT