Health Benefits of Oranges

Oranges are a nutritional all-star that offers more than just vitamin C.

When you think of the health benefits of oranges, the first thing that probably springs to mind is vitamin C. Citrus fruits pack plenty of immune-supporting vitamin C. Still, oranges provide several other possible health benefits like cancer-fighting compounds and hydration.

The nutrition of oranges ranges from minerals like potassium and phosphorous to substances that help delay or prevent chronic diseases. You can enjoy oranges in delicious ways, from juice to zest made from the peel. 

Getty Images

Benefits of Oranges

However you consume oranges, they offer a spectrum of benefits. Oranges can fill you up, help meet your daily fluid requirements, or top off the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy.

Help With Hydration

One navel orange provides about 121 grams, or four ounces, of water. Your fluid needs vary based on age, activity level, and health status. Generally, women need about 92 ounces of fluids daily, while men need 124 ounces.

Usually, people get about 20% of their fluids from food. Water-rich foods like oranges help meet your daily requirement.

Consuming enough fluids has several health benefits, such as:

  • Prevents dehydration
  • Maintains body temperature
  • Enables you to digest the food you eat
  • Flushes out waste

Improve Digestion

One medium navel orange offers about three grams of fiber. The Food and Drug Administration advises getting 28 grams of fiber daily.

Though most people in the United States do not consume enough fiber, it has several health benefits. Fiber supports many functions, such as:

  • Aiding with digestion
  • Helping regulate blood sugar and insulin levels
  • Satiating your appetite for long periods
  • Keeping your bowel movements regular

Increase your fiber intake slowly. Too much fiber can quickly cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset, like bloating.

Reduce Belly Fat

The fiber content of oranges helps reduce cholesterol and belly fat, or visceral fat.

A study published in 2022 tracked the food habits of almost 1,500 people with metabolic syndrome with overweight or obesity. Metabolic syndrome is a group of health conditions that raise the risk of heart disease and diabetes. The researchers found that after 12 months, people who increased their fiber intake reduced their body weight and visceral fat.

Carrying excess visceral fat increases inflammation and the risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers.

Oranges pack flavonoids, a compound with antioxidant properties. A study published in 2017 found that high intakes of flavonoids help reduce fat mass.

Support the Immune System

One medium navel orange packs nearly 100% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C for men and even more for women. Vitamin C supports the immune system. The body also uses vitamin C to make collagen and use fat as fuel during exercise and at rest.

A study published in 2021 found that citrus juice, mainly orange juice, supports the immune system. The researchers noted that citrus juice reduces inflammation, which causes many chronic diseases.

Aid With Iron Absorption

The vitamin C content in oranges helps the body absorb iron. Iron enables the body to use oxygen better, and a lack of iron can cause fatigue. Getting enough iron is especially important for premenopausal people who lose iron through their periods.

Iron is essential for people who follow a plant-based diet. The body absorbs iron from plant-based foods less readily than from animal sources.

Protect Against Chronic Diseases

Oranges pack flavonoids, which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatoryantiviral, and antimicrobial properties. Research has found that antioxidants help protect cells against damage. Oxidative stress can lead to inflammation linked to diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.

A study published in 2018 of more than 82,000 women found that high flavonoid intake lowered the risk of depression, especially among older women.

Lower Cancer Risk

Orange peels pack some of the highest flavonoids and vitamin C content than any citrus fruit. A review published in 2020 found that the flavonoids in citrus peels help prevent cancer cells from growing and spreading.

For example, flavonoids help regulate apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Apoptosis is a process the body uses to kill off abnormal cells before they multiply and grow out of control.

Might Improve Cognitive Function

Orange juice may help you think clearly. For example, a study published in 2015 found that high intakes of citrus juice improved cognitive function in older adults. Another study published in 2017 found that drinking moderate quantities of citrus juice can enhance blood flow to the brain for healthy young adults.

Nutrition of Oranges

One navel orange has the following nutritional profile:

  • Calories: 72.8
  • Fat: 0.21g
  • Sodium: 12.6mg
  • Carbohydrates: 16.5g
  • Fiber: 2.8g
  • Protein: 1.27g

In addition to vitamin C and fiber, oranges pack potassium and folate, two vital nutrients. Potassium supports heart, muscle, and bone health. Folate is a B vitamin that helps make red blood cells and DNA.

Oranges supply small amounts of calcium and magnesium. Calcium builds strong bones and teeth, helps your muscles and blood vessels contract, and aids in secreting hormones and proteins. Magnesium has many functions, like helping strengthen your immune system, regulating your heartbeat, and building strong bones.

Even orange seeds offer nutritional value. A study published in 2021 looked at the components of valencia and blood orange seeds. The researchers noted that orange seeds generally contain unsaturated and essential fatty acids.

The researchers found that the valencia and blood orange seeds contain calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and macronutrients like protein and carbohydrates.

Risks of Eating Oranges

Consuming oranges or their juice may have risks, such as:

  • Aggravating symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Worsening heartburn due to their acidity
  • Causing indigestion
  • Interacting with certain prescription drugs
  • Leading to weight gain if you drink too much juice over time

Tips for Consuming Oranges

There are lots of ways to enjoy oranges. You can enjoy them whole, in sections, grated, or squeezed. 

Eat Them Whole

Whole oranges are filling and provide more fiber than orange zest or orange juice. Add them to overnight oats, garden salads, stir-fry, chilled whole-grain dishes, savory lettuce wraps, and slaw.

Pair orange slices with nuts or seeds, cheese or yogurt, or herbed olives. Mix it up by trying different varieties, including navel, blood, and mandarin.

Zest Orange Peels

Opt for organic oranges if you decide to eat the peel. Organic oranges lower your exposure to pesticide residues. Zest the outer skin with a grater. You may want to avoid the more bitter white pith.

Add orange zest to homemade salad dressing. Orange zest also makes a good garnish for oatmeal, fruit salad, or avocado toast. You can sprinkle some on cooked veggies, quinoa, stir-fries, and desserts.

Add Orange Juice

Orange juice counts as part of your daily fruit intake. You can drink freshly squeezed orange juice or cook with it.

Try adding pure orange juice to stir-fry sauce, marinade, or soup. Consider using orange juice to make cocktails or mocktails, or freeze it in an ice cube tray and add it to water with mint or ginger.

A Quick Review

Oranges offer a wide range of health benefits. Oranges are filling and full of vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds that help prevent chronic diseases and help manage healthy body weight. There are many ways to enjoy oranges, from eating them whole to adding the grated peel to dressing.

Was this page helpful?
30 Sources uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Food and Drug Administration. Oranges, raw, navels.

  2. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. How much water do you need?.

  3. MedlinePlus. Water in diet.

  4. Food and Drug Administration. Daily value on the new nutrition and supplement facts labels.

  5. Barber TM, Kabisch S, Pfeiffer AFH, et al. The health benefits of dietary fibreNutrients. 2020;12(10):3209. doi:10.3390/nu12103209

  6. National Institutes of Health. Health benefits of dietary fibers vary.

  7. MedlinePlus. Dietary fiber.

  8. Zamanillo-Campos R, Chaplin A, Romaguera D, et al. Longitudinal association of dietary carbohydrate quality with visceral fat deposition and other adiposity indicatorsClin Nutr. 2022;41(10):2264-2274. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2022.08.008

  9. MedlinePlus. Metabolic syndrome.

  10. Crudele L, Piccinin E, Moschetta A. Visceral adiposity and cancer: Role in pathogenesis and prognosisNutrients. 2021;13(6):2101. doi:10.3390/nu13062101

  11. Jennings A, MacGregor A, Spector T, et al. Higher dietary flavonoid intakes are associated with lower objectively measured body composition in women: Evidence from discordant monozygotic twinsAm J Clin Nutr. 2017;105(3):626-634. doi:10.3945/ajcn.116.144394

  12. Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin C - health professional fact sheet.

  13. Garcia-Diaz DF, Lopez-Legarrea P, Quintero P, et al. Vitamin C in the treatment and/or prevention of obesityJ Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2014;60(6):367-379. doi:10.3177/jnsv.60.367

  14. Miles EA, Calder PC. Effects of citrus fruit juices and their bioactive components on inflammation and immunity: A narrative reviewFront Immunol. 2021;12:712608. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2021.712608

  15. MedlinePlus. Iron in diet.

  16. Barreca D, Gattuso G, Bellocco E, et al. Flavanones: Citrus phytochemical with health-promoting properties: Citrus phytochemical with health-promoting propertiesBiofactors. 2017;43(4):495-506. doi:10.1002/biof.1363

  17. Chang SC, Cassidy A, Willett WC, et al. Dietary flavonoid intake and risk of incident depression in midlife and older womenAm J Clin Nutr. 2016;104(3):704-714. doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.124545

  18. Sir Elkhatim KA, Elagib RAA, Hassan AB. Content of phenolic compounds and vitamin C and antioxidant activity in wasted parts of Sudanese citrus fruitsFood Sci Nutr. 2018;6(5):1214-1219. doi:10.1002/fsn3.660

  19. Koolaji N, Shammugasamy B, Schindeler A, et al. Citrus peel flavonoids as potential cancer prevention agentsCurr Dev Nutr. 2020;4(5):nzaa025. doi:10.1093/cdn/nzaa025

  20. Chronic consumption of flavanone-rich orange juice is associated with cognitive benefits: an 8-wk, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in healthy older adultsThe American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2015;101(3):506-514. doi:10.3945/ajcn.114.088518

  21. Lamport DJ, Pal D, Macready AL, et al. The effects of flavanone-rich citrus juice on cognitive function and cerebral blood flow: an acute, randomised, placebo-controlled cross-over trial in healthy, young adultsBritish Journal of Nutrition. 2016;116(12):2160-2168. doi:10.1017/S000711451600430X

  22. MedlinePlus. Potassium in diet.

  23. MedlinePlus. Folic acid in diet.

  24. MedlinePlus. Calcium.

  25. MedlinePlus. Magnesium in diet.

  26. Adubofuor J, Akyereko YG, Batsa V, et al. Nutrient composition and physical properties of two orange seed varieties. Int J Food Sci. 2021;2021:6415620. doi:10.1155/2021/6415620

  27. Auerbach BJ, Littman AJ, Krieger J, et al. Association of 100% fruit juice consumption and 3-year weight change among postmenopausal women in the in the Women's Health InitiativePrev Med. 2018;109:8-10. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2018.01.004

  28. Food and Drug Administration. Don't take this with that!.

  29. Kim JS, Kim BW. Are diet and micronutrients effective in treating gastroesophageal reflux disease especially in women?J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2019;25(1):1-2. doi:10.5056/jnm18198

  30. NIH MedlinePlus Magazine. Heartburn: What you need to know.

Related Articles