How often do you consume fruits?
Is fruits consumption part of your everyday eating-habit?
Did you know that the World Health Organisation recommends at least five portions of fruits intake on a daily basis?
These three key questions are left for you to deliberate on and answer for yourself in all honesty.
Peradventure you are unaware, it might interest you to know that daily fruits consumption is highly recommended due to their innumerable health-promoting benefits. Apart from minerals and vitamins, fruits are equally an excellent source of dietary fibre. Daily intake of dietary fibre has been proven to have a very strong correlation with the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and obesity. Moreover, fruits supply our bodies with phytochemicals that act as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents and phytoestrogens that protect our bodies against disease-causing agents.
The human race is blessed with countless fruits but one fruit that is popular all over the globe is the sweet orange. Sweet orange is a tropical fruit that is botanically referred to as Citrus sinensis L. Being considered as a citrus fruit, orange belongs to the family of Rutaceae and genus Citrus. Other species of oranges that belong to the genus citrus include mandarin or tangerine orange, grapefruit, pomelo and lemon. Citrus sinensis is the sweet orange while Citrus aurantium is the bitter orange. The orange fruit has three sections: an external layer (flavedo or peel), epicarp or exocarp (a white portion beneath the exocarp) referred to as mesocarp or albedo, and the innermost part (endocarp), which contains the vesicles with juice and seeds. Almost 50% of the sweet orange fruit makes up the juice, while the remaining 50% includes both the seeds, rind, sacs, fibre and albedo (pith). Studies reveal that a high amount of bioactive metabolites are present in the fruits, flowers and leaves while the flavedo and albedo contain the pharmacological properties.
The sweet orange is a rich source of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals e.g. vitamin A, B-complex vitamins (thiamin, folates and pyridoxine), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), manganese, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, sodium, niacin, dietary fibre, limonoids, synephrine, hesperidin, flavonoid, pectin, folacin and polyphenols. Sweet orange contains antioxidants such as alpha and beta carotenes, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin. These active compounds and elements are notable for their various benefits on human health. Notable amongst others are the reduction of cholesterol levels, prevention of arteriosclerosis, regulation of the blood pressure, prevention of kidney stones, prevention of the onset of cancer & stomach ulcers and overall promotion of human health. This suggests why the sweet orange possesses antibacterial, antihepatotoxic, antimicrobial, antifungal, carminative, antiviral, antimutagenic, larvicidal, anti-yeast, uricosuric and anti-inflammatory properties. Orange also contains volatile essential oils that are useful as larvicides, fumigants, repellents, for disinfecting wounds and for preventing microbial growth.
Spectacular Benefits of Sweet Orange
Edible Purposes
Sweet orange can be consumed as a fresh fruit or preserved for future consumption. It can be used for preparing orange fruit juice, smoothies, soft drinks, ice creams, cocktail drinks, soda, punches, liqueurs and orangeades. Orange fruits and peels can be used for preparing cookies, desserts, candies, jams, cakes marmalades and candied peels. Sweet orange oil can be used as a flavour enhancer in soft drinks, smoothies and ice creams. Orange seed oil can also be used for cooking.
Pharmacological Importance
Several pharmacological studies have shown that the sweet orange fruit has numerous pharmacological benefits such as antidiabetic, immunological, anthelmintic, analgesic, antioxidant, reproductive, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, anticancer, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory.
Phytochemical Composition
Sweet orange contains several phytochemicals such as coumarins, carotenoids, alkaloids, triterpenes, tannins, flavonoids, psoralens and essential oils. Terpenoids are found in the ethanolic pulp extracts of the sweet orange while the ethanoic and aqueous pulp extracts show the presence of sugars, tannins, carbohydrates, lipids, alkaloids, steroids and amino acids.
Antibacterial Activity
Some researchers conducted an in-vitro examination of the peel extract of Citrus sinensis (Sweet orange) for antibacterial activity against several diarrhoeal pathogens. These pathogens are Vibrio cholerae, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Shigella flexneri, Salmonella typhi, Salmonella paratyphi A and Salmonella paratyphi B. The Citrus sinensis extract exhibited several levels of antibacterial activity on various test microorganisms.
Anthelmintic Activity
To investigate the anthelmintic ability of the seed coats of Citrus sinensis fruits, Pheretima posthuma (Indian adult earthworms) of 3 to 5 cm in length and 0.2 to 0.4 cm in width were used. Preliminary phytochemical examination revealed the presence of tannins, triterpenes and carbohydrates in the seed coats extract of Citrus sinensis. These phytoconstituents are believed to be responsible for the anthelmintic activity of sweet orange when compared to a standard drug. The methanolic extracts of seed coats of sweet orange fruit exhibited significant anthelmintic activity at 50 mg/mL concentrations.
Spasmolytic Effect
Citrus sinensis has a significant spasmolytic effect due to its constituent of both monoterpenic and triterpenic compounds in flavedo portion. Due to the spasmolytic ability of this fruit, it is useful for relieving or preventing spasm of the smooth muscle.
Antimicrobial Effect
The antimicrobial effect of methanolic extract of sweet orange peel was investigated against two fungal and three bacterial strains using tube dilution or turbidimetric and paper disc diffusion methods. The methanolic extract of C. sinensis fruit peel showed antibacterial activity against Escherichia coli with a minimum inhibitory concentration of 0.78 μg/ ml and minimum bactericidal concentration of 6.25 µg/ml. The antimicrobial effects of aqueous extracts of the leaves, juice and peels from fresh sweet oranges were examined against 3 Gram-positive and 6 Gram-negative bacterial (E. feacalis, S. aureus, S. pyogenes, E. coli, M. catarrhalis, P. aeruginosa, K. pneumoniae, S. typhi and Proteus spp. Citrus juices exhibited the highest antimicrobial activity against the studied isolates.
Anti-inflammation Activity
Citrus fruit flavonoid contains compounds that exhibit anti-inflammatory activity due to the presence of regulatory enzymes such as cyclooxygenase, protein kinase C, lipoxygenase, phosphodiesterase and phospholipase. These enzymes control the formation of the biological mediators, which are responsible for the activation of endothelial cells and specialized cells involved in inflammation. Studies also reveal that the hesperidin from citrus cultures can be therapeutically used as a mild anti-inflammatory agent.
Anti-Obesity Effects
Sweet orange fruit is a rich source of dietary fibre and pectin. It contains no saturated fats and has low calories thus suitable for obese individuals. Pectin acts as a laxative, protects the mucous membrane from exposure to toxic substances and binds cancer-causing chemicals in the colon. Pectin also lowers the blood cholesterol levels by minimizing its re-absorption in the colon through binding to bile acids in the colon. Sweet orange peels contain the alkaloid synephrine that lowers the production of cholesterol in the liver.
Prevents Atherosclerosis
Citrus flavonoid prevents atherosclerosis, which is a disease of the arteries characterized by the deposition of fatty material on the inner walls.
Anti-typhoid activity
An in-vitro study of the aqueous extracts of sweet orange fruit peel reveals antityphoid activity against Salmonella typhi, Salmonella paratyphi A and Salmonella paratyphi B.
Relieves Constipation
The dietary fibre and alkaline properties found in the sweet orange fruit help to stimulate the digestive juices, thereby preventing and relieving constipation.
Aids Digestion
Due to the high amount of dietary fibre present in sweet orange, its regular consumption is highly recommended for promoting easy food digestion.
Other Benefits of the Sweet Orange
- Polyphenols found in sweet orange prevent viral infections.
- Used in folk medicine for treating neurological disorders.
- Daily consumption of sweet orange helps to minimize the formation of calcium oxalate that causes kidney stones.
- Sweet orange protects the skin from damage caused by free radicals, thereby keeping the skin glowing.
- The oil obtained from orange peels, flowers, twigs and leaves can be used as an essential oil for manufacturing perfumes, detergents and body creams.
- Sweet orange leaves can be decocted with Carica papaya leaf, Magnifera indica leaf and Psidum guajava leaf for tackling malaria.
- Due to its rich constituent of vitamin C, sweet orange can be consumed regularly to keep fever and catarrh at bay.
- Roasted orange pulp can be prepared as a poultice and used for treating skin diseases.
- Immature orange fruit can be infused and taken to relieve stomach and intestinal problems.
- Dried orange leaves and flowers can be decocted and taken as a remedy for flatulence, a cardiac sedative and for preventing vomiting (antiemetic).
- A decocted dried orange leaves can be taken as an emmenagogue for stimulating and increasing menstrual flow.
- A decocted dried orange leaves can be applied on sores and used to tackle ulcers.
This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnostic and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
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