Citrus fruits are among the world’s most popular fruits. Oranges are the king of the juicy orbs. They have grown on orange trees for thousands of years. Their true origin is a mystery which originates in eastern Asia.
Today, they are grown in most warm regions and are enjoyed either as fruit or juice. A 4-ounce orange contains mainly carbohydrates and water, with very little protein, fat, and few calories.
Oranges are a healthy source of fiber, vitamin C, thiamine, folate, potassium and antioxidants. They have multiple health benefits.
But let’s face it, before devouring any citrus fruit most people meticulously pick off the stringy, spongy white stuff or so-called, pith, which lies beneath the peel and the fruit itself. Urban legend has it as bitter and thus, not good. That white stuff has a name: albedo, and believe it or not, it is an extremely healthy thing to eat.
Albedo is a very rich source of pectin. Pectin is primarily a helpful aid for GI function and blood sugar control. It also fights against the bad LDL cholesterol in the blood. Pectin is a soluble fiber.
The whiteness of the citrus fruit helps the body absorb vitamin C easily. Thus, vitamin C from an actual orange is more efficiently absorbed from the fruit than juice.
The pithy albedo also counteracts the aging process of many cells. It is like a facelift from the underside of the skin. Albedo freshness and radiance makes the skin glow.
The high fiber of the white stuff aids in the feeling of fullness after eating citrus. Albedo is also rich in antioxidant power, useful for blood circulation. Research connects it with antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects to fight respiratory infections.
An easy way to peel an orange is to rinse it off first then start with a sharp knife to cut the top and bottom of the peeling off. Score the rind being careful to not cut into the actual fruit. Using your fingers or a spoon tear the scored rind away from the juicy fruit. Separate or cut with a knife.
Save time and gain the true benefits of the orange by leaving the pith on the orange. When cracking open a peeled orange, snatch the fuzzy albedo post from the center and pop it into your mouth. If chewing on orange slices, include the albedo into each bite.
Purchasing citrus sections in a jar from the grocery store may seem like a luxury but you are paying a lot of money for fewer health benefits. Studies reveal that orange albedo is almost tasteless. Lemon white stuff is nearly sweet, but grapefruit pith is the most bitter.
Citrus fruits are harvested in warm locations during the coldest months of other locales. Mother Nature is offering a prevention and remedy for respiratory and cold symptoms. Take advantage of the overwhelmingly positive benefits of citrus fruits.
Citrus fruits not only good; they support good health. You can have your orange and your albedo, too.
Bobbie Randall is a registered, licensed dietitian, certified diabetes educator in Wooster, Ohio. Contact her at [email protected]