Citrus fruits have the advantage of containing several different antioxidants that may help prevent a range of health concerns, from cardiovascular disease and cancer to skin damage from sunlight. Different types of citrus fruits have similar nutrients but in slightly different amounts. In addition to fiber and vitamin C, citrus fruits supply calcium, potassium, folate and vitamin A.
One small orange, one-half of a small grapefruit and one large tangerine are all equal to about 100 grams. You would have to eat almost two small lemons to consume 100 grams and gain the same amount of nutrients in one small orange. A 100-gram serving of orange, grapefruit or tangerine has 32 to 53 calories, 8 to 13 grams of total carbohydrates and 7 to 11 grams of sugar. Oranges and grapefruit have low glycemic index scores, which means their natural sugars don’t cause a big spike in blood sugar.
Eating a piece of citrus fruit is a sure way to gain dietary fiber, although an orange has double the amount of a grapefruit. You’ll get 2.4 grams of dietary fiber from a small orange, 1.8 grams from a large tangerine and 1.1 grams from one-half of a small grapefruit. About 60 to 70 percent of the total fiber in an orange or grapefruit is the soluble type that lowers cholesterol and helps prevent spikes in blood sugar. The rest is insoluble fiber, which adds bulk to digestive waste and prevents constipation.
Vitamin C helps produce collagen, which provides structure and elasticity for your skin and tendons. As an antioxidant, it neutralizes free radicals before they damage healthy cells, which prevents inflammation that can lead to chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease. Men need to get 90 milligrams and women should consume 75 milligrams of vitamin C in their daily diet. You’ll get 53 milligrams of vitamin C from one small orange, 34 milligrams from one-half of a small grapefruit and 27 milligrams from one large tangerine.
Flavonoids are a group of substances responsible for the fruit’s color and bitter flavor. They’re also antioxidants that reduce inflammation and may prevent cancer by helping your body eliminate carcinogens and killing cancer cells. The membranes and white pith of the fruit contain a high proportion of flavonoids. Eating the whole fruit may supply up to five times more flavonoids than you would get from a glass of juice.
Try making a salad of greens, orange segments, avocado slices, onions and lime vinaigrette. Another savory combination includes orange or grapefruit segments, chicken, walnuts and a vinaigrette with a dash of hot sauce or soy sauce and ginger. Roasted beets work well with orange or grapefruit segments and an orange-juice flavored vinaigrette. Saute onions in orange juice, add orange segments, a touch of fresh dill and use it as a topping for chicken or fish.