I got an email from a member of the Juicy Josh MySpace community earlier this week asking me what I had to do with OJ? Strange question, I thought… and not very nice. Of course the whole thing was a big misunderstanding that we straightened out quickly. But it got me thinking and I realized that I hadn’t really written anything about this wonderful fruit and its health benefits. (I don’t really have much to say about the other OJ) And away we go…
So every year around flu season we get the sniffles and run to the grocery store to slam as much of this stuff as possible because everybody knows it’s fights off colds and flu. Most of us are aware that it’s choc full ‘o Vitamin C which is vital for a healthy immune system but that’s really just the beginning. Let’s start there though. Did you know that just one orange supplies 116.2% of the daily value for Vitamin C? And not many know this but Vitamin C is the primary water-soluble antioxidant in the body, disarming free radicals and preventing damage in the aqueous environment both inside and outside cells. This, in a nutshell, means it helps fight cancer and inflammatory conditions like asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. And because it destroys free radicals which oxidize cholesterol and make it stick to the artery walls, Vitamin C can help keep cholesterol low preventing heart attack or stroke.
So what else? Recent studies have shown that the healing properties of oranges is also associated with a wide variety of phytonutrient compounds, most importantly the flavanone molecule herperidin, which is shown to lower high blood pressure as well as cholesterol in animal studies, and to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Found primarily in the pulp and peel, this is just another reason to include these when you’re juicing (at least the pulp for God’s sake).
Several studies in the last few years have shown that a diet high in citrus fruit provides a statistically significant protective effect against several types of cancer as well as cardiovascular disease. One US study even shows that one extra serving a day of citrus can reduce risk of stroke by 19%. This same report includes evidence of positive effects for arthritis, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairment, Parkinson’s disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, gallstones, multiple sclerosis, cholera, gingivitis, optimal lung function, cataracts, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and obesity.
Compounds in citrus fruits, including oranges, called limonoids have been shown to help fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon and to lower cholesterol. A Compound called polymethoxylated flavones, found in the orange peel have been shown to lower cholesterol as effectively as Statin drugs.
Oranges are a great source of fiber, they’ve been shown to help prevent kidney stones, ulcers and stomach cancer and finally, it’s been shown that Vitamin C supplements don’t provide the same protective benefits as drinking a glass of orange juice. In one researchers own words, “It appears that vitamin C is not the only chemical responsible for antioxidant protection.” In oranges, vitamin C is part of a matrix involving many beneficial phytochemicals, “But how they are interacting is still anyone’s guess,”