A medium sized orange (one cup of edible sections) contains 21 g of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide energy for your muscles and brain. Whole foods, rather than processed, are the best sources for carbohydrates because they provide the greatest amount of nutrition. Oranges help fuel you through carbohydrates, but they also have the potential to fight disease and hasten weight loss.
A medium orange provides 100 percent of your daily recommended values of vitamin C. The body cannot store up Vitamin C, so you must look for it in outside sources. Vitamin C helps strengthen the immune system, enhances eyesight, improves your heart health and may make you look younger. In addition to Vitamin C, oranges provide almost 10 percent of your daily recommended amounts of folate, and 7 percent of B1 and potassium.
The carbohydrates in oranges include four grams of dietary fiber. The FDA recommends you get at least 21 g of fiber a day–and if you are under 50 or a male, the recommendations are slightly higher. Fiber helps with the health of your digestive tract. Oranges contain a specific type of fiber called pectin, which has been shown to keep you full longer and reduce your intake of calories for hours after ingestion. The Journal of the American College of Nutrition reported in a study in 1997 that participants fed pectin with their orange juice stayed full for up to four hours after its consumption while participants who drank plain orange juice or ate ice cream were hungry just an hour later.
Twenty-four percent of the sugars in oranges come from fructose. Fructose is low on the glycemic index, meaning that it is unlikely to cause the spikes and dips in blood sugar that occur with corn syrup and table sugar.
An average-sized orange contains 80 calories. They come in their own package, making them very portable. A whole orange also takes longer to eat than a glass of juice, and contains 30 fewer calories. Replacing higher calorie snacks like chips and cookies with an orange can save you hundreds of calories a day, and possibly up to 20 pounds a year.
Oranges count as a fruit in your daily intake of fruit and vegetables. The greater your consumption of fruits and vegetables, the more healthy you are likely to be. A large study, performed by the Harvard-based Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, tracked over 100,000 participants' fruit and vegetable intake for 14 years. The findings clearly showed that a higher consumption of fruits and vegetables lessened participants' risk for cardiovascular disease.