With more benefits than you may know, oranges are the true star of the produce aisle
WHY YOU NEED THEM
They'll keep your ticker beating at its ideal rhythm. That extra cardio protection comes from two compounds (hesperidin and naringin) found in the peel and inner white pulp. In studies, the duo have been shown to potentially ward off heart disease and stroke by elevating levels of good cholesterol while reducing the risk of clots.
Oranges fi ght off damage from the sun. Orange peel is loaded with the protective phytonutrient d-limonene. Eating as little as one tablespoon of orange zest each week—about the amount from one orange peel—can significantly suppress your risk for skin cancer. For the greatest effect, combine orange zest with hot black tea.
NOTE: To get zest, rub an unpeeled orange against a food grater with fine holes. The resulting bits of peel—or zest—can be used in salads or soups or sprinkled over chicken or fish before cooking.
Citrus fruits may fight the signs of aging. The vitamin C in oranges can neutralize free radicals, preventing them from damaging cells and triggering everything from fi ne lines and wrinkles to more serious illnesses like cancer. And just taking a supplement won't do. Italian researchers found that volunteers who drank OJ had far less cellular damage from free radicals than another group who took the same amount of C in vitamin form.
If that weren't enough, citrus fruits may help you breathe easier. Oranges are rich in the antioxidant beta-cryptoxanthin (the pigment that gives them their brilliant hue). In studies, this compound has been shown to help ward off lung cancer, even in smokers.
HOW TO BUY THEM
Choose smaller, firmer, thinner-skinned oranges that feel heavy for their size. These tend to be the juiciest, sweetest fruit.
See a green patch? As long as the skin is smooth, it's nothing to worry about.
Once you have the fruit home, store them loose at room temp on your counter for about a week. Or put them in the fridge in plain sight. They'll keep there for up to two weeks.
WHICH ONES TO BUY
Tastes like: A sweeter, less-tart version of its distant cousin, the grapefruit.
Cool fact: The largest of all citrus fruits, this green giant can sometimes grow big enough to masquerade as a watermelon.
Why you should try it: Pummelos are a great diet food, high in both water and fiber, that'll keep you feeling full as long as possible after eating.
Tastes like: A shot of OJ with a raspberry chaser.
Cool fact: Moros are nicknamed "blood oranges" because of their succulent deep-red pulp.
Why you should try it: To fight headaches and muscle pain. Moro oranges are filled with compounds called anthocyanins, potent plant pigments that protect your body from toxins and inflammation.
Tastes like: A mixture of apricot nectar and canned mandarin oranges.
Cool fact: Clementines are the unwanted love child of an accidental tryst between an orange and a tangerine plant.
Why you should try it: Since they're small, seedless, and a cinch to peel and break into segments, Clementines are also the ultimate no-mess, portable fruit snack.
CARA CARA RED NAVEL
Tastes like: Fresh cherries with a tart cranberry zing.
Cool fact: The fruit gets its name from the flow-ers the Cara Cara tree produces—the tip of which resembles the human belly button.
Why you should try it: Cara Cara navels are the next best thing to a multivitamin, packed with the vitamin C you expect, plus cancer-fighting lycopene and vitamin A for healthy skin and Superman vision (minus the X-rays).
Tastes like: A grapefruit, only sweeter and without the harsh, bitter aftertaste.
Cool fact: There's no need for these oranges to ripen. The green skin means go—the fruit is ready to eat.
Why you should try it: To improve your workout. Oroblanco oranges are loaded with thiamin, which helps promote muscle growth, maintain a healthy nervous system, and keep stamina levels running at their peak.
Tastes like: At once bold, sweet, and super tart—the Nicole Richie of citrus fruits.
Cool fact: Tangelos are easy to peel and highly noted for their knobby ends, further advancing the Nicole theory.
Why you should try it: To avert future heartache. One "mini" will nearly top off your body's folate reserves, helping to clear your system of an artery-clogging substance called homocysteine and dramatically reducing your risk of all forms of cardiovascular disease.