The word ‘orange’ comes from the Sanskrit ‘narang,’ which in turn comes from the Tamil word ‘naru‘… meaning fragrant (Reid, p.1), and it has been said that the scent of oranges alone can relieve stress and tension (Lawless, pg. 69).
Oranges however, can relieve a lot more than just anxiety. They can also fight cancer, skin diseases, colds, the flu and a number of other ailments.
Oranges contain flavanoids, which are one of the largest groups of dietary antioxidants. Antioxidants, including Vitamin C, prevent deterioration by oxidation and act as free radical scavengers (Just-food, p.1). Free radicals cause the kind of cellular damage that can lead to cancer, heart disease, arthritis and aging (Messina p.1).
A single orange contains up to 70mg of Vitamin C, which is nearly 117% of the recommended daily amount (Reid p.1). Therefore, an orange assists in healing, boosting the immune system, helping in the absorption of iron and reducing the risk of cancer (Reid, p.1).
Oranges are also a natural source of folic acid and Vitamin B. Studies have shown that most people, especially pregnant women, are not getting enough of these vitamins. A study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggests that women who don’t metabolize folic acid properly are at a greater risk of having a child with Downs Syndrome.
The U.S. Public Health Service advised women of childbearing age to ensure an adequate intake of folic acid. A deficiency in Vitamin B can cause serious neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly (Just-food, p.1)
Oranges are also a good source of fiber, which keeps the intestinal tract healthy and eating some of the spongy-white pith of an orange helps increase fiber intake. The water-soluble fiber in oranges also helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of heart disease (Reid, p.2 and Just-food, p.1).
Oranges are also a low-fat and easily metabolized source of carbohydrates. Within the 70 calories of a medium-sized orange, there are 16 grams of carbohydrates. During physical activity, the muscles use stored carbohydrates, called glycogen, to fuel daily activity. Eating carbohydrate-rich foods, like oranges, ensures a speedy recovery after a workout (Just-food, p.1).
Orange juice can improve digestion because it is rich in salts and acts as a stimulant to the digestive system by improving peristaltic activity and the flow of gastric juices in the colon. It is recommended that one should drink a glass of orange juice one hour before breakfast.
Oranges can also help soothe a feverish person. A fever is Allah’s (swt) mechanism to help the body rid itself of accumulated toxins. Oranges can assist in two ways: the fruit acids satisfy the thirst of a feverish person and the juice increases elimination of toxins through the skin and kidneys (Kloss, p.662).
Fresh orange juice in a baby’s bottle can prevent scurvy, pellagra, rickets and infantile paralysis in situations where the child is not getting adequate nutrition. However, if a child has a diet low in milk products, orange juice is not a good idea as it could decalcify the system (Kloss, p, 663 and Colbin, p.161).
The following are recipes for Carrot & Orange Salad and Orange Granita:
Carrot & Orange Salad:
Grate 750g of carrots.
Peel and cut an orange into small pieces and dress in a mixture of the juice of two oranges, one lemon and two tablespoons of orange blossom or rose water.
Stir in chopped fresh coriander leaves.
It is refreshing with a hot spicy dish (Roden, p.107).
Orange Granita (A sorbet):
600ml orange juice or 475ml of orange juice & 125ml of lemon juice 900ml water 375g sugar and 1 tablespoon of orange blossom water. If you like a slightly acidic taste add more lemon juice.
Boil the water and sugar together for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and when it cools, stir in the juice and the orange blossom water. Freeze in trays at the lowest setting. As the ice freezes a little, beat the mixture lightly with a fork without removing it from the tray.Repeat this a few times at half hourly intervals. Transfer this mixture from the freezer to the refrigerator for about twenty minutes before serving. You can serve it in the scooped out shells of small oranges and decorate if you wish.
However, oranges do not have to be digested to be beneficial. They are heavily used in aromatherapy where aromatherapists often use Cistus sinensis, a popular essential oil, as well as the prized neroli oil.
Neroli oil, derived from oranges, is a product of Spain, North Africa, the U.S. (the world’s largest producer of oranges) and the Comoro Islands. It is extracted from the bitter orange blossom biguarade, which is native to China (Lavabre, p.89).
Aromatherapists use these oils to reduce the body’s temperature in cases of fever; to assist the body in digestion; to control lymphatic system secretions; and to control water retention. It also has a sedative effect in cases of hysteria, insomnia, pre-menstrual tension and shock (Lavabre p.89, 130-131).
In fact, aromatherapists use every part of the orange tree as Allah (swt) has designed the root, stalk, branches, leaves, bark, petals and fruits as signatures of differing balancing properties.
When choosing an orange, do not select it on the basis of color because sometimes they are dyed with food coloring. Green, rough or brownish patches on the skin of the orange do not necessarily give a good indication as to the quality or flavor, though naturally you should avoid moldy or spongy spots.
Select the fruit on the basis of firmness and heaviness relative to the size. Once bought, they can be kept fresh by refrigeration. At room temperature they lasts a couple of days, depending on climatic conditions. But in the refrigerator, they can last for up to 2 weeks (Reid, p.1).
- Colbin, Annmarie. “Food & Healing.” US: Baltimore Books, 1986.
- Gurudas.”Flower Essences & Vibrational Healing.” US: Cassandra Press, 1989.
- Just-food. “Health Related Benefits of Oranges. Just-food.com. 8/16/01.
- Kloss, Jethro. Back To Eden . US: Back To Eden Books, 1985.
- Lavabre, Marcel. Aromatherapy Workbook Canada: Healing Arts Press, 1990.
- Lawless, Julia. The I llustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils . New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1995.
- Messina, Mark. “Foods with Phyte.” Better Homes & Gardens, Feb 1997.
- Murray, Michael, T. “Quercetin: Nature’s Antihistamine.” Better Nutrition, April 1998.
- Price, Shirley. “Practical Aromatherapy”. England: Horsons Publishers Ltd., 1987.
- Reid, Su. “In Season: Oranges.” Food Focus Cooking Light Online. 3/10/01.
- Roden, Claudia. Middle Eastern Food . England: Penguin Books, 1985.