Sumo Oranges—Here's Why You Might Want to Try Them

Sumo oranges are certainly tasty, and they come with a whole host of health benefits.

Every so often, a particular orange fruit comes into the spotlight. It's enormous, has a bumpy texture with a big knot on top, and tastes sweeter than any other orange fruit you've encountered.

They're known as Sumo oranges, and they've got quite a cult following. And just in case you're curious, here's what you should know about the basics of the unique, nutritious treat, where to find them, and how to incorporate them into your diet.

Where Do Sumo Oranges Come From?

While some people refer to the fruit as Sumo oranges, that's incorrect. In fact, they're not technically oranges. They're made from a hybrid of navel, mandarin, and pomelo citrus fruits, trademarked as Sumo Citrus®.

Originally cultivated in Japan, Sumo orange seedlings were imported into the United States during the late 1990s. But because the fruit is challenging to grow, it wasn't made available to consumers until 2011, when California farmers began cultivating the tasty treat.

But there's a catch: Because the growing season is long, and the fruit is carefully hand-picked and hand-packed, Sumo oranges are only available between January and April. Of note, because of the unique growing needs and limited season, Sumo oranges are slightly more expensive than other common types of citrus.

What Makes Sumo Oranges Unique?

First and foremost, the oranges are enormous. 

The fruit's size and the characteristic top knot, reminiscent of the hairstyle of sumo wrestlers, are how they got their name. One Sumo orange is larger than a handful. It weighs slightly over eight ounces, compared to about five ounces per medium orange.

The natural hybrid, which has no genetic modifications, offers a few other distinctive perks. The thick, bumpy, no-mess rind is easy to peel, there is much less bitter white pith, and the fruit is seedless and incredibly sweet. 

The delicious flavor of Sumo oranges is partly due to its high sugar-to-acidity ratio, which makes them taste sweeter than many of its citrus relatives.

Nutrition Content

Here's how the nutrition of a single Sumo orange breaks down:

  • Calories: 147 calories
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Sodium: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 35 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Total sugars: 29 grams
  • Protein: 3 grams

That amount of sugar might seem like a bit much, but remember that those are naturally-occurring sugars. And Sumo oranges have so much sugar because they're much larger than a typical orange. If an entire Sumo orange is too big for one meal, you can share it or stash the remaining sections in the fridge and eat within about a day.

One Sumo orange also packs 163% of the daily recommended value for the immune and skin-supporting vitamin C. This antioxidant protects against cell damage by free radicals (harmful substances that bring about oxidative stress). Free radicals increase your risk of developing chronic diseases, like cardiovascular disease or cancer, as well as premature aging, fine lines, and wrinkles.

Sumo oranges also have 10% of the daily recommended value for potassium. This nutrient reduces blood pressure and supports heart function and muscle contractions.

How Can You Enjoy Sumo Oranges?

Sumo oranges are lovely as is, or you can incorporate the sections into a variety of recipes. 

Add them to overnight oats or a smoothie for breakfast, toss into a garden salad or stir fry, add to a gingery vinegar slaw, or add them to snacks and desserts.

You can layer the sections with yogurt and nuts or pair them with half an avocado or a scoop of nuts. Other great options: Dipping Sumo orange slices into melted dark chocolate or adding them to chia pudding or coconut milk ice cream.

If you wind up with more than you can eat, peel and freeze the slices to blend into smoothies or thaw the slices later for use in recipes. A small freezer stash will also extend your personal Sumo orange season, so you can enjoy them for a few additional months.

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  1. Sumo Citrus. About.

  2. Sumo Citrus. FAQs.

  3. Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. Superfoods to the rescue.

  4. National Institutes of Health. Potassium.

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