Phytonutrients, also called bioactives or phytochemicals, are plant compounds which are thought to have health-promoting qualities but are not technically considered “nutrients” (for instance, like Vitamin C or potassium), which are essential to prevent classic nutrient deficiencies. The number of carotenoids in citrus can vary widely depending on citrus variety, growing conditions, fruit maturity, processing, storage, and multiple other factors.
Oranges naturally include many flavonoids, a class of plant compounds similar to those found in red wine (resveratrol), green tea (catechins) and chocolate (cocoa flavanols). Hesperidin is the most common flavonoid found in oranges, followed by naringenin.1
Several flavonoids have been reported to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cardioprotective properties which may help protect against various diseases and conditions.2-7
Citrus variety, fruit maturity, post-harvest processing techniques, storage conditions, and the location within the fruit (e.g. peels are richer than pulp) can affect the levels of flavonoids in orange juice. Thus, the amount of flavonoids in a food can vary widely. Citrus flavonoids are primarily concentrated in the peel of the fruit. Commercial processing of fresh oranges into orange juice extracts flavonoids from the peel into the juice. For this reason, the juice tends to have a higher flavonoid content than the whole fruit.
Carotenoids are yellow, orange and red pigments found in abundance in citrus. Oranges have many carotenoids, but the most concentrated are beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.8
Carotenoids behave as antioxidants, help our cells communicate with each other, support our immune system, and some studies show they contain properties that protect against certain types of cancer.9
Thousands of studies provide evidence of health benefits attributed to carotenoids including:
- reducing risk of illness9,10
- supporting eye health9,10
- protecting skin from sunburn11,12
- lessening premature aging of the skin13
- reducing risk of many cancers including breast and prostate cancer 9,10
- supporting bone health14,15
- increasing breastmilk concentrations of carotenoids and vitamin A16,17
Within citrus are many carotenoids including beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin which can form vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is necessary for normal eyesight, reproduction, growth and development, cell health, gene expression, and immune function.18
The number of carotenoids in citrus can vary widely depending on citrus variety, growing conditions, fruit maturity, processing, storage, and multiple other factors.