(Family Features) Healthful eating starts with the ingredients you use, so it’s important to use fresh, seasonal ingredients that pack a nutritional punch. One of the easiest ways to meet your daily nutrient needs is to eat a variety of whole foods like fruit (which about 80% of the U.S. population doesn’t get enough of, according to the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans), because they provide a unique mix of beneficial nutrients that can’t always be found in a supplement.
Consider an option like delicious California Navel and Cara Cara oranges, which are in season and available nationwide, offering a wide variety of health benefits. Oranges are best known as an excellent source of vitamin C to support a healthy immune system, because one orange can offer 70-100% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C depending the varietal. However, oranges also offer other important nutrients your body needs to stay healthy, including:
- Phytonutrients (beneficial compounds produced by plant foods) like flavonoids, which can help mitigate cell damage and support brain and heart health.
- Citrus is the only type of fruit packed with hesperidin and naringin, two flavonoids that offer anti-inflammatory properties.
- Potassium, which the body can’t produce on its own, supports cell function, healthy blood pressure levels, bone health and hydration.
- California Navel and Cara Cara oranges are good sources of fiber, which supports gut health.
- Oranges are good sources of folate, which is particularly important to consume during pregnancy because of its role in cell growth, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Oranges are a versatile fruit, making them an easy addition to both sweet and savory dishes as well as beverages. Try incorporating oranges into your weekly meal plan with dishes like a lighter version of orange chicken or drinks like this Orange Moscow Mule Mocktail. To help maximize the flavor profile and nutritional benefits of California oranges, consider these tips:
- Numerous parts of citrus can be consumed, including the flesh, juice, zest and peel, meaning a single piece of fruit can go a long way.
- Next time you use citrus in a beverage or as part of a meal, bring it to room temperature before cooking to help ensure you get the most juice.
- Because vitamin C is water soluble, it’s important to eat it fresh. When using as part of a recipe, use as little water as possible and avoid overcooking.
- For storage, it’s often best to keep oranges refrigerated to help them last longer and ensure freshness.
Visit californiacitrusgrowers.com to find more information.
Orange Moscow Mule Mocktail
Recipe courtesy of Gina Homolka of “Skinnytaste”
- 1 California Cara Cara orange
- 1 cup ice
- 1 bottle (6.8 ounces) light ginger beer
- fresh mint leaves, for garnish
- Slice orange in quarters then cut 2-3 slices for garnish and set aside. Juice rest of orange and place in copper mug (or any glass). Fill glass to top with ice. Add ginger beer and garnish with orange slices and mint leaves.