Juicy, sweet and renowned for its concentration of vitamin C, oranges make the perfect snack and add a special tang to many recipes from smoothies to meats. Oranges are generally available from winter though summer with seasonal variations but all provide loads of vitamin C, with immune and heart protection as well as aiding in the prevention of kidney stones, which only highlight some of the benefits oranges have to promote optimal health.
When most people think of oranges the first thing that comes to mind is loads of vitamin C. In fact just one orange supplies about 116% of the daily value for vitamin C. What does this mean for you? Vitamin C is a significant antioxidant that protects your body from free radicals and has been associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. Vitamin C is also vital for the proper function of a healthy immune system, which comes in handy for preventing colds and recurrent ear infections. In the recent draft report, “Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Disease”, the World Health Organization concluded that a diet that features citrus fruits also offers protection against cardiovascular disease thanks to the citrus fruits’ folate, homocysteine potassium (to help lower blood pressure), vitamin C, carotenoids and flavonoids (found in all citrus fruits). All have been identified as having protective cardiovascular benefits. Vitamin C can also be very helpful in fostering healthy hair. Vitamin C is one of the nutrients your body for sebaceous glands (which is attached to every hair follicle) to produce sebum, the body’s natural hair conditioner.
Drinking orange juice or eating an orange can help reduce the risk of calcium oxalate kidney stones. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that when women drank 1/2 to 1 liter of orange, grapefruit or apple juice daily, their urinary pH value and citric acid excretion increased, significantly dropping their risk of forming calcium oxalate stones.
Oranges are also a good source of fiber, with a single orange providing 12.5% of the daily value for fiber. Fiber helps to keep blood sugar levels under control, grab cancer-causing chemicals, and aiding in relieving constipation. In addition to oranges’ phytonutrients, vitamin C and fiber, they are a good source of thiamin, folate, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), potassium and calcium.
Oranges are classified in two general categories, sweet and bitter, with the former being the type most commonly consumed. Popular varieties of the sweet orange include Valencia, Navel and Jaffa oranges as well as the blood orange. Bitter oranges are often times used to make jam or marmalade, and their zest serves as flavoring in many recipes. Which ever variety you favor you can rest assured that when eating an orange you getting some of the very best Mother Nature has to offer.
Fit Tip: Fitness Tools-Rating of Perceived Exertion
When exercising, it is important to monitor your intensity to make sure that you are working at a pace that is challenging enough to help you reach your goals, but not so hard that you end up injuring yourself or worse. One way to do so is by using the Rating of Perceived Exertion or RPE. This rating is based on the physical sensations a person experience during physical activity, including increased heart rate, increased respiration (breathing) rate, increased sweating and muscle fatigue. It basically reflects how heavy and strenuous the activity you’re performing feels to you, focusing on your total feeling of exertion. The original scale (the Borg Scale) uses a range from 6-20 but for quick and easy purposes a scale of 1-10 works just as well. For most workouts you want to be around a level 5 to 6. If you’re participating in interval training, then your recovery should be at about a 4 or 5 and your intensity bouts should be around an 8 or 9. A level 10 is not recommended for most workouts. For longer, slower workouts you should stay at a level 5 or maybe 4. So what exactly do all of these numbers mean? Here’s a complete breakdown.
Level 1: Super easy!! (Like reading my favorite book and having a cup of tea).
Level 2: Comfortable and could keep this up all day.
Level 3: Still comfortable but, breathing a bit heavier.
Level 4: Ok, starting to sweat a little, but feeling good and can easily carry on a conversation.
Level 5: Just above comfortable, sweating more and can still talk easily.
Level 6: I can still talk, but now I’m just a bit breathless.
Level 7: I can talk, but would rather not and now I’m sweating like a pig.
Level 8: A grunt would be the response to all questions and I can only stay at this pace for a short time.
Level 9: Oh my gosh, I feel like I’m going to die.
Level 10: I’m dead. (Totally and completely maxed out.)
Try to appraise your feeling of exertion as honestly as possible, without thinking about what the actual physical load is. Your own feeling of effort and exertion is important, not how it compares the person next to you. This scale can also be helpful with progressing with your work out. For example if you’ve been doing a particular activity for a while and when you started your RPE was about a 5 or 6 and now it’s at a 3 or 4 you know that you can challenge yourself a bit more in your workout to keep yourself at a level 5 or 6. As long as your honest with yourself, this tool can be most helpful in making sure you’re getting the most out of your workout.
Until next week…