Most of us know the many benefits of including oranges in our diets. Oranges are loaded with Vitamin C, which is an important treatment for cancers and is required for many important bodily functions. Oranges provide fiber and are helpful in controlling blood sugar and insulin. Oranges should be included as a part of every diet. But, did you know that the orange peel that most of us toss in the trash also contains health benefits.
Orange peel, or more specifically, orange zest (the shavings of the orange portion of the peel), contain a unique flavonoid called hesperidin. Hesperidin helps to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff), lower triglycerides (fats found in the blood) and reduces the risk of heart disease. An added benefit is in normalizing blood pressure. Studies also show that hesperidin is helpful in reducing bone loss, acts as an anti-inflammatory and is good for fighting some types of cancer, especially breast cancer.
Hesperidin is found bountifully in the orange zest. Although small amounts are found in the orange flesh itself, it does not provide the same benefits as orange zest. The zest is so easy to use. Before you peel the orange use a grater or rasp to shave off the orange portion of the peel, leaving behind the pith (white skin between the orange of the skin and the orange flesh). I make a habit of shaving the orange zest into the blender as I make my daily smoothie, saving the balance to use in baked goods, such as muffins and cookies, and in other recipes.
Orange peels also contain natural oil which is utilized by the body to help keep the elasticity of veins and arteries. The oil will help keep your skin strong, elastic and beautiful. Add some orange peel to a bath and let your skin absorb these beneficial oils. The sweet citrus scent will help give you a boost.
Orange zest is a good source of pectin. Pectin is a natural fiber which the body utilizes to control blood sugar, reducing the immediate effect of blood sugar rising rapidly. This makes it ideal for diabetics. Pectin also works to lower bad cholesterol levels, helping to scrub cholesterol plaque from artery walls. Need more benefits? Pectin acts as a natural appetite suppressant, reducing the desire to overeat. Additionally, pectin helps promote the production of healthy bacteria in the intestines.
Want to know how you can easily include this highly beneficial food in your diet? Add orange zest to rice, couscous, grains or oatmeal to give it an added citrus flavor. Use orange zest as part of a salad dressing or marinade. Add it to jams or jellies. Sprinkle it on salads or to add flavor to soups. Use it as a spice to add flavor to fish and meats and vegetables. Orange zest is a well-known addition to baked goods. People love my orange, raisin, cranberry, oatmeal cookies. The orange zest gives them that extra added flavor. The list of foods that are accented by orange zest are nearly endless.
Next time you reach for a piece of fruit consider an orange and grate off the orange peel. You will get the great benefits of the orange flesh and the added benefit found in the orange zest. You will help maintain healthy cholesterol, control blood sugar levels, suppress overactive appetite, keep your skin smooth and provide other benefits to your body.
Jeff Keto, with a degree in Sports Medicine, writes various articles about things he has learned over the years including knowledge gained from personal experiences.