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50-percent of the health benefits are from the skin
In the Western world, citrus peels are mostly just byproducts of juicing and treated as waste. That's a pity, as they contain many phenolic compounds which are proven to be beneficial to our Western lifestyle and diet-induced diseases.
By consuming the whole citrus fruit, we gain far more health benefits than by just eating the flesh. There are more health benefits from compounds in the skin and membranes than from just those in the flesh.
The compounds in the non-flesh parts of oranges are so powerful that in some parts of the world they are used as traditional medicine to cure fungal and bacterial infections, human colon and breast cancer by alternative therapists.
To me, that's convincing. Especially since I am diabetic and the role of foods with a high content of phenolic compounds is surfacing as an important aspect of dietary blood sugar control. These foods help regulate blood sugar by slowing digestion, and the antioxidants help prevent the damage to the blood vessels caused by diabetes.
When we have inflammations, caused by stress such as the pandemic, or diseases such as diabetes, the body reacts by producing the so-called free radicals. These things age our insides and our outsides - our skin for example. A chronic excess of free radicals is associated with many diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Our body does produce natural antioxidants which neutralise and inactivate the free radicals, but, when stressed, we need more antioxidants than the body can produce naturally. Citrus fruits are a low-cost source of natural antioxidants - and a fantastic source if you eat the skin.
How yucky is it to eat the whole orange, skin and all?
It's not too bad.
I like to try various nutrition experiments on myself. In saying that, I'm not a food-crazy fad follower nor do I count calories or avoid pizza-nights or fish-and-chips Sunday lunches out with my young daughter. But I do try things that my family think are a bit weird.
For example, I sprinkle tumeric and (medical) cinnamon powder into the butter in the frying pan before I flop a couple of eggs on top. I sprinkle the same, plus ginger, on an avocado I eat daily - along with pepper, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar.
I pour a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil into the protein shake I have for breakfast (and on top of my morning oats). Get the picture? A bit nerdy, I know.
I tried. But I could not eat a whole lemon every day. I tried. For a month. But it is too bitter - I mean it's not bearable.
Maybe I need to try a different variety, but that's making things too hard. I like my little food quirks to flow naturally into my lifestyle, not to have to hunt about and to make a chore out of them.
An orange? It's fine. Sure, it tastes a little astringent, according to the season and variety. But the sweetness of the flesh covers most of the astringency of the skin.
I kind of enjoy it. I think of the health benefits, but most of all I do kind of enjoy the overall taste - I mean it is not "not enjoyable".
I suggest that you go buy the best-looking oranges that you can find, especially if you can get them from the farm. Wash them well.
Then slide into wedges, and enjoy munching the entire fruit.
Your family will look at you weirdly, but they'll later thank you for living longer and healthier.
Here are more reasons to motivate you to eat the whole fruit
In general, citrus fruits are one of the natural resources of antioxidants and contain abundant amounts of ascorbic acid, flavonoids, and phenolic compounds. Besides sugar, pectin, vitamins (A, B1, and C), and carotenoid pigments, they also contain organic acids such as citric acid and ascorbic acid, and minerals.
The exciting thing to know is that citrus fruits have a high content of biologically active compounds. These include phenolic compounds such as coumarins and flavonoids (including catechin, epigallocatechin, vitexin, rutin, luteolin and apigenin).
The phenolic compounds in citrus fruits contribute to their antioxidant properties - similar to vitamin C and carotenoids-type compounds.
The highest concentration of these goodies is in the peel!
Don’t throw away half your money and health benefits
Citrus peel forms around 40–50% of the total fruit mass. The peel is a substantial source of the health-enhancing compounds in citrus fruit, especially the phenolic compounds and carotenoids.
Citrus peels, in particular, have high levels of phenolics which demonstrate strong antioxidant properties These protect our cells against free radical damage as well as help in reducing the risk of many chronic diseases. Because skin contains higher amounts of these compounds than the other edible parts of the fruit, the protective value of its antioxidant load is higher.
Think about it this way — I do — by not eating the skin you are trashing half of your money and more than half of the health benefits! If you do the math, you are throwing away half of your money and half of the health benefits, meaning that you are only getting one-quarter of the value for your money.
The skin also has another dietary benefit - soluble fibre
The total dietary fibre content in orange peel is about 70%, with insoluble fibre being the predominant fraction. Of that 70% fibre in orange peel, 30% of that total is soluble fibre, and 70% insoluble.
Soluble fibre is now recognised to have significant health benefits and is becoming more widely known as a prebiotic. Prebiotics ferment in our colon - delivering a wide range of health benefits which are only just beginning to be understood. These include:
What a fantastic list of logical reasons to eat your whole orange. I hope that these reasons help remove some of the bitter taste for you. It took me a little while, but now, I look forward to eating oranges whole.
Good luck. I'm off to eat one now.
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