Do Oranges Help Your Immune System?

An orange a day may keep the doctor away.

An orange a day may keep the doctor away.

According to the American Lung Association, the average adult suffers through two to four colds per year, resulting in more doctor visits than any other illness. No one has time to be brought down by a cold, or any sickness for that matter. It is important to eat right to prevent infection, and oranges are one food that will boost your immunity.

Vitamin C

One medium orange contains 120 percent the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for a healthy immune system. It stimulates the production and function of your white blood cells, which attack foreign bacteria and viruses, reducing your chances of getting sick. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant. Your cells suffer damage by free radicals produced through everyday metabolism and external factors like pollution. Free radicals increase your risk for premature aging and chronic disease, such as heart disease and stroke. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals protecting your cells and preventing disease. According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, vitamin C is especially adept at guarding your immune cells.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is also known as the anti-infective vitamin because your body needs it for a healthy immune system. The cells lining your airways and digestive and urinary tracts serve as your body’s first defense against infection. Vitamin A keeps these cells healthy so you’re better able to attack foreign invaders. Vitamin A is also required for the development of white blood cells, which are an essential component of your immune system. One medium orange contains 6 percent the RDA of vitamin A.

Fiber

A 2010 study published in “Brain, Behavior, and Immunity,” suggests soluble fiber found in foods such as oranges may strengthen your immune system and reduce inflammation, which is often associated with chronic diseases. Soluble fiber stimulates production of the anti-inflammatory protein interleukin-4, which helps your immune cells switch from being pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory. The end result is that you recover faster from infection. One medium orange contains 12 percent the RDA for fiber.

Recommendations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends eating 2 cups of fruit per day. One medium orange is equivalent to one serving of fruit. It contains about 60 calories and no fat, cholesterol or sodium. Fresh oranges are an excellent snack, especially if you’re on the run. Top a salad with orange segments, or add them to rice dishes or stuffing. The natural sweetness of oranges provides you with a healthy dessert option while also boosting your immunity.

 

About the Author

Michelle Fisk began writing professionally in 2011. She has been published in the "Physician and Sports Medicine Journal." Her expertise lies in the fields of exercise physiology and nutrition. Fisk holds a Master of Science in kinesiology from Marywood University.

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