Healthful eating starts with the ingredients you use, so it’s important to use fresh, seasonal ingredients that pack a nutritional punch. One of the easiest ways to meet your daily nutrient needs is to eat a variety of whole foods like fruit (which about 80% of the U.S. population doesn’t get enough of, according to the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans), because they provide a unique mix of beneficial nutrients that can’t always be found in a supplement.
Consider an option like delicious California Navel and Cara Cara oranges, which are in season and available nationwide, offering a wide variety of health benefits. Oranges are best known as an excellent source of vitamin C to support a healthy immune system, because one orange can offer 70-100% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C depending the varietal. However, oranges also offer other important nutrients your body needs to stay healthy, including:
- Phytonutrients (beneficial compounds produced by plant foods) like flavonoids, which can help mitigate cell damage and support brain and heart health.
- Citrus is the only type of fruit packed with hesperidin and naringin, two flavonoids that offer anti-inflammatory properties.
- Potassium, which the body can’t produce on its own, supports cell function, healthy blood pressure levels, bone health and hydration.
- California Navel and Cara Cara oranges are good sources of fiber, which supports gut health.
- Oranges are good sources of folate, which is particularly important to consume during pregnancy because of its role in cell growth, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Oranges are a versatile fruit, making them an easy addition to both sweet and savory dishes as well as beverages. Try incorporating oranges into your weekly meal plan with dishes like a lighter version of orange chicken or drinks like this Orange Moscow Mule Mocktail. To help maximize the flavor profile and nutritional benefits of California oranges, consider these tips:
- Numerous parts of citrus can be consumed, including the flesh, juice, zest and peel, meaning a single piece of fruit can go a long way.
- Next time you use citrus in a beverage or as part of a meal, bring it to room temperature before cooking to help ensure you get the most juice.
- Because vitamin C is water soluble, it’s important to eat it fresh. When using as part of a recipe, use as little water as possible and avoid overcooking.
- For storage, it’s often best to keep oranges refrigerated to help them last longer and ensure freshness.
Visit californiacitrusgrowers.com to find more information.