A bit of navel gazing


By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach

Do you know why an navel orange got its name? It's because of the navel, or belly button, looking formation at the blossoming end of the fruit where the oranges are detached from the plant at harvest time. Peel a navel orange and you'll find another little orange growing inside it at the same end; that's a result of genetic mutation: The orange was trying to 'birth' another orange, but the mutation prevented it from happening completely. Interesting huh?

Genetic mutation sounds a bit alarming but there's no need to panic. Inside the skin is a delicious, juicy orange with many health benefits, particularly at this time of year.

For vitamin C, oranges take some beating, they are also a great source of folate, fibre, and Vitamin B6. Oranges can help boost your immune system, improve your skin, heart health and may help reduce the risk of respiratory diseases, certain cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcers and kidney stones.

Don't forget that they are also economical and will stay perfectly fresh in the fruit bowl for a week or more.

In our urbanised world where we are exposed to industrial pollution, smoke and constant stress Vitamin C, found in oranges, protects cells by scavenging and neutralizing harmful free radicals, produced through these external factors.

Some of you may remember reading the results of a trial I wrote about last year which found that eating at least one orange every day had more than a 60% reduced risk of developing late macular degeneration due to the flavonoid content in oranges.

Another study published last year found that men who ate green leafy and drank orange juice had a lowered risk of memory loss. There have been many articles written about the benefits of drinking orange juice and the negative effects of drinking too much natural sugar. Fruit juice elevates blood sugar more quickly than whole fruit, and the level of sugar in fruit juice is much higher than the level found in whole fruit simply because you have to juice a lot of oranges to get a whole cup. The simple solution is to just blend it and enjoy the fibre as well.

And what about the peel?
It may not taste great, but the orange zest does add a flavour boost to many dishes and contains antioxidants with powerful detoxifying properties. The pith also contains as much vitamin C as the fruit itself which is another great reason to blend the fruit and not juice it.

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