Health Benefits of Navel Oranges
There are many orange varieties, but the two most popular in the US are, arguably, the navel orange and the Valencia orange. Both are sweet oranges with amazing flavor, but when you want to make fresh orange juice your best bet is to go with Valencia vs. navel oranges. When it comes to snacking, however, navel oranges are the way to go – they are sweet and delicious, easy to eat, and bursting with nutrition. But before we get into the health benefits of navel oranges we should answer a couple of questions, starting with what’s a navel orange, anyway? And do navel oranges have seeds?
What is a Navel Orange?
The primary characteristic of all navel orange varieties is the second, undeveloped fruit at the blossom end of the orange. This unformed fruit’s resemblance to a human navel is what gives the navel orange its name. It’s also the reason why the answer to the question “are navel oranges seedless?” is “yes” – the fruit is seedless, so the trees reproduce through cutting and grafting. (A California Historic Landmark, the Parent Washington Navel Orange Tree is one of the two from which all California Navel Oranges have descended; oranges from this original “old line” are also known as heirloom navel oranges.)
The average navel orange size 3” in diameter (though some can grow to be as large as 4.5” in diameter). The fruit is round, sweet, juicy but not inordinately so (which makes it great for snacking), and easy to peel. Of the navels, the most common types are the California Navel Orange (also known as the Washington Navel Orange), the Cara Cara Navel (also known as the Red Navel Orange), the Bahia Navel, the Dream Navel, and the Late Navel.
Navel Orange Nutrition
Now on to the health benefits of navel oranges: basically, if you aren’t eating them, you should be! Navel oranges are one of the healthiest fruits in the world. High in fiber, potassium, and Vitamin C, they’re one of the most beneficial low-calorie snacks you can eat.
Some folks feel they should steer away from citrus because of their natural sugars and carbs (there are 17.5g carbs in a navel orange), but these natural sugars are of a far different caliber than the processed kind, and because navel orange calories are so low you can enjoy one for dessert without guilt (in a large navel orange, calories are fewer than 70). So instead of fretting over how many calories in a navel orange or how many carbs in a navel orange, you should be focusing on the health benefits. There are five big ones:
- Navel oranges help prevent cancer. We tend to focus on the immune system support of Vitamin C, but it does more than that: Vitamin C (for which navel oranges are known) is an antioxidant that prevents the formation of free radicals which cause cancer.
- Navel oranges are a great source of other vitamins besides Vitamin C. Don’t just focus on the C! Navel oranges are also high in Vitamins A (which supports healthy skin and vision), B6 (which keeps your nervous system healthy), potassium (which lowers your risk of having a stroke) and calcium (which strengthens the bones and teeth), all of which contain many health benefits.
- Navel oranges help regulate your blood sugar. Remember what we said about natural sugar vs. processed sugar? Oranges are high in fiber, which can help lower your cholesterol. For Type I Diabetics, that can help lower your overall glucose level, and for Type II Diabetics, that can aid in improving your insulin levels.
- Navel oranges help keep your heart healthy. Navel oranges are high in potassium, which helps support heart health and decreases your risk of having a heart attack or getting heart disease.
- Navel oranges can keep you looking young! That all-important Vitamin C we mentioned above? It really helps to increase your collagen production, too, which in turn protects your skin from damage caused by the sun and pollution, reduces wrinkles, and improves overall skin texture.
With everything navel oranges have to offer along with their amazing taste, it really doesn’t make sense not to eat them. So get snacking and enjoy them along with all the great health benefits they provide, too!