The pink flesh of the cara cara orange offers a treat to citrus lovers. Discovered in Venezuela in 1976, this sweet navel orange has a flavor reminiscent of grapefruit and cherries. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that women eat 1 1/2 cups of fruit each day. Packed with fiber, vitamin C and folate, these rosy fruits are a delicious way to get in one of your fruit servings.
Sometimes called red navels, the naturally seedless cara cara oranges are a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth. One medium orange contains 70 calories, no fat and 3 grams of fiber. Fiber is an indigestible material that helps food pass through your digestive tract, prevents constipation and protects against colon cancer. For good health, aim for at least 25 grams of fiber each day.
One cara cara orange provides 140 percent of your daily vitamin C and 6 percent of your vitamin A. Vitamin C is a crucial antioxidant that protects cells from damage, heals wounds and repairs body tissue. Vitamin A protects your vision, boosts your immune system and promotes the growth of your bones. Cara caras are a source of folate, a B-vitamin required for cell development. Folate is especially important during pregnancy, as it promotes healthy growth for the baby.
Carotenoids are pigments that give orange fruits and vegetables their color. Cara cara oranges contain beta-carotene, a carotenoid that converts into vitamin A in the body. The pink flesh of these oranges is caused by a mutation of lycopene, a red pigment found in tomatoes and watermelon. Preliminary research suggests that lycopene may protect against heart disease, macular degeneration and certain cancers.
The skin on the cara cara orange should be shiny, firm and free of soft spots. Make a salad with chopped oranges, baby spinach, pecans and goat cheese. Puree orange slices and cranberries in a food processor to make a tasty relish to top your dinner entree. Use the juice from these oranges to flavor your rice, couscous or quinoa dishes, or simply enjoy a glass of freshly squeezed pink orange juice in the morning. Grate the peel and use it as a flavoring in your soups, quick breads and salsas.
- Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry: Characterization of Carotenoids in Juice of Red Navel Orange (Cara Cara)
- Fruits and Veggies More Matters: Cara Cara Oranges, Nutrition, Selection and Storage
- University of California: Tried and True or Something New?
- Fruit and Veggies More Matters: Top Ten Ways to Enjoy Cara Cara Oranges
Jennifer Dlugos is a Boston-based writer with more than 10 years of experience in the health-care and wellness industries. She is also an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter who teaches screenwriting and film production classes throughout New England. Dlugos holds a master's degree in dietetics.