Oranges originated in the Southeast Himalayan foothills, in a region including the eastern area of Assam (India), northern Myanmar and western Yunnan (China). They are also known as sweet oranges, grow on orange trees (Citrus x sinensis) and belong to a large group of fruits known as citrus fruits.
The tree of the sweet orange often reaches 6 metres (20 feet) in height. The broad, glossy, evergreen leaves are medium-sized and ovate; the petioles (leafstalks) have narrow wings. Its white five-petaled flowers are very fragrant. The fruit is a modified berry known as a hesperidium, and the flesh is divided into segments called carpels. The usual shape of the sweet-orange fruit is round and the colour of its pulp orange, but there are variations, such as the mandarins that have a flattened shape or the blood orange which has a red pulp.
Vitamins and minerals
Oranges are a good source of several vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C, thiamine, folate, and potassium.
Vitamin C - plays a vital role in the body, including the maintenance of bones and teeth. Vitamin C also boosts your sleep, reduces sleep disturbances, relieves movement disorders, and decreases the dangerous effects of sleep apnoea. It also lowers your levels of stress hormone cortisol and your blood pressure.
Thiamine- also known as vitamin B1, plays an important role in the metabolism of lipids, amino acids and glucose in the human body. Thiamine is an important dietary supplement occurring naturally in bitter leaves and helps to oxidize fatty acids in order to produce the synthesis of lipids, which is one of the body’s essential processes.
Folate - also known as vitamin B9 or folic acid. Folate is a natural form of vitamin B9 and is water soluble. It is found in many food plants. It is essential for DNA production, the development of red blood cells, and preventing anaemia.
Potassium - an essential mineral that is needed by all tissues in the body. It is sometimes referred to as an electrolyte because it carries a small electrical charge that activates various cell and nerve functions. Oranges are a good source of potassium. High intake of potassium can lower blood pressure in people who already have high levels and may reduce your risk of heart disease.
Health benefits of oranges
The vitamin C in oranges can help your body in lots of ways:
Boosts your immune system, your body's defence against germs.
Protects your cells from damage.
Helps your body make collagen, a protein that heals wounds and gives you smoother skin.
Makes it easier to absorb iron to fight anaemia.
Slows the advance of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss.
Helps fight cancer-causing free radicals.
Anti-inflammatory properties - Some of the foods we eat tell our immune system it is under attack. This causes inflammation. When inflammation turns into a long-term problem, it can trigger diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease. Oranges have the opposite effect.
Fibre - The fibre or pectin contained in a medium orange helps keep your bowels healthy, your cholesterol and risk of heart disease low, and ulcers at bay. Fibre also slows the way your body absorbs sugar.
Calcium - Oranges are high in calcium which helps keep bones, organs and muscles strong.
Did you know?
The most popular types of oranges are navel oranges. These were first found in Brazil in the late 1800 where they continue to grow, as well as in California and Florida.
Navel oranges have an underdeveloped secondary fruit at the blossom end which has the shape of a belly button or navel, hence their name.
A two-gram bitter leaf DREAMS teabag contains 0.76g of dried oranges.