Oranges Red and Redder – It’s Not All in a Name

February 28, 2017 in Cooking & Baking Hints, Nutrition by Joyce Bunderson

I don’t really think it’s all in a name; but it is an interesting argument. If you want an orange and want to reap some extra nutrients you may decide upon the Blood Orange. It seems that they could have come up with a better name right? Blood? Really? Maybe they could have chosen something like Crimson Orange or Ruby Orange (Yes, I know the pink grapefruit already nabbed that name.) It’s too late now; the names are set. But many might not recognize the difference in nutrients.

First, let’s just have a modicum of gratitude for oranges in general, in this day and age. I’m glad that we can live anywhere in the US and get oranges all year long. It’s true; I miss my back yard orange trees in California. That’s why I’m so glad that oranges can be shipped yearlong. And let’s face it; oranges are one of the brightest, sunniest items on the winter table. Since few of us are gobbling up tomatoes, peaches and apricots in the winter, these wonderful oranges are there to fill the bill. And because navels are in season until about May, the price is great while other fruit is premium priced.

Without getting buried in nutritionism by listing all their known and essential nutrients, let me just say that oranges, mandarins and/or Clementines (by any name – Cuties, Halos, Pixies, or Delights) are all nutritional powerhouses. Having said that, let’s take a moment to notice a little bit of difference.

In my experience most people think of an orange as the delivery mechanism for vitamin C, which of course, it is. If you’re eating an orange, let’s just check vitamin C off the need to worry about list. You’re going to get enough vitamin C to cover more than a day’s needs from one medium orange. If you want to add vitamin A to your wish list, then choose a Cara Cara (30% of daily need) or a Blood Orange (9%) to your shopping cart. The regular orange only has about 2% vitamin A. The pink color is the hint. Lest we end up sounding like we’re wallowing in nutritionism; let me remind you that you can be eating many other fruits and vegetables during the day; those can be excellent sources of vitamin A. Think carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach.

I love ordinary naval oranges so much that frankly I’ve never purchased the Cara Cara or Blood Oranges before. This year, my produce market gave me an additional reason to include them; the price was the same as regular, sweet, juicy navel oranges. I bought some and the beautiful color won them a place on the shopping list. They can take the place of the tasteless wintertime tomatoes in salads. Yet another benefit of the Cara Cara is the flavor. The flavor is a sweet tang with a hint of berry. Quite nice, indeed!

If you’re really looking to hike up the nutrients in your day, consider using some of the zest. Oranges contain over 170 phytonutrients and 60 flavonoids; some of those nutrients help lower high blood pressure and have anti-inflammatory properties and many of the nutrients are found in the zest. Use a grater to scrape the zest off the surface of that bright orange skin, and use it in deserts, salads, or be adventurous with the —zesty orange flavor!

By now almost everyone knows that eating an orange, is a better choice than having a glass of juice. Eat your orange in easy circular slices (parallel to the equator) that won’t drip all over you; or peel and section; or if part of the trip is orange juice squirts, then just bite into it. The nutrients and fiber will benefit you regardless of what you choose to do with your orange or which variety you eat.

I think the Cara, Cara is here to stay in a big way. Maybe Blood Oranges should consider doing what prunes did – that is, change their name; prune growers now call their product, dried plums. But then again, “Blood Oranges” may be so vivid, memorable, and curiosity-provoking that the majority will just happily keep using the term, and come to enjoy their own image of that delicious ruby red flesh. Maybe a name really is important, or maybe not.