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Blood Red Oranges

August 22, 2013 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

Lately, I’ve received a few questions asking about the differences between conventional oranges and blood or red oranges. One of the inquiries came on the heels a recent news items proclaiming that orange juice is even worse than soda, in terms of promoting weight gain, on a calorie for calorie basis. Could it be that red orange juice is a better option? Another reader was curious after noticing a red orange extract in a product intended to protect against sun related skin damage. And, as it turns out, there’s also been an upswing in current scientific research involving this vibrantly colored fruit that’s native to California, Sicily and Spain.

Citrus sinenses (L.) Osbeck or blood oranges contain an array of antioxidant pigments that set them apart from “blond” oranges. Specifically, constituents including anthocyanins, carotenoids and flavonoids are responsible for the fruit’s dramatic, crimson flesh. What’s more, according to a just published review in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Immunity, these very same substances also impart anticancer, anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular protection.

In 2012, findings from a study conducted in mice reported that anthocyanin-rich orange juice prevents fatty liver caused by an unhealthy diet. In July of 2013, a human trial evaluated the relative effects of daily “blond” vs. red orange juice on specific circulatory factors and determined that they were comparable in terms of decreasing procoagulant activity. Other research reveals that 500 ml/day of red orange juice improves endothelial function, another measure of circulatory health, while reducing systemic inflammation in overweight men and women. Evidence of increased antioxidant protection has also been noted in several publications. In addition, a few studies have reported that low-dose, sugar-free extracts of red orange are capable of protecting human subjects from the damage caused by air pollution and type 2 diabetes.

Selecting the best red orange juice or supplement may require more information than is typically available at your local health food store or market. For instance, fresh and/or organic red orange juice is documented as containing significantly higher levels of health promoting phytochemicals and Vitamin C. However, finding fresh, organic red oranges can prove challenging. Similarly, red orange extracts aren’t yet widely available, though they can be found online. Beyond that, the real question is whether or not it’s worth the effort to seek out this still uncommon juice and supplement. From my vantage point, while the growing body of research is promising, so too is the more abundant data on easier to attain sources of similar antioxidants including blueberries, 100% cranberry and grape juice. Another option for those trying to avoid or limit sugar is unsweetened hibiscus tea. Note the deep reddish color in whole hibiscus flowers and the resulting brew. Even better would be to include a broad assortment of anthocyanin-rich fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. A list of such fruits and vegetables can be found here.

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

News – The Telegraph: Is Fruit Juice Bad for Your Health? (link)

Study 1 – Red Orange: Experimental Models and Epidemiological Evidence of its … (link)

Study 2 – Both Red and Blond Orange Juice Intake Decreases the Procoagulant (link)

Study 3 – Effects of Red Orange Juice Intake on Endothelial Function and (link)

Study 4 – Four-Week Ingestion of Blood Orange Juice Results in Measurable (link)

Study 5 – Effects of Blood Orange Juice Intake on Antioxidant Bioavailability … (link)

Study 6 – Evaluation of Oxidative Stress in Diabetic Patients After (link)

Study 7 – Protective Effects of a Standardised Red Orange Extract on Air Pollution (link)

Study 8 – Antioxidant Activity of Pasteurized & Sterilized Commercial Red Orange (link)

Study 9 – Antioxidant Effectiveness of Organically and Non-Organically Grown Red (link)

How Anthocyanins Protect Against Cancer

Source: Cancer Lett. 2008 Oct 8;269(2):281-90. (link)

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Posted in Food and Drink, Heart Health, Nutrition

4 Comments & Updates to “Blood Red Oranges”

  1. JP Says:

    Update: Blood red orange extract may support weight loss …


    Nat Prod Res. 2015 Jan 15:1-5.

    Clinical evaluation of Moro (Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck) orange juice supplementation for the weight management.

    In the last years, several studies have recently evaluated the beneficial effects of red orange juice (Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck) and its active components in weight management and obesity. Moro orange is a cultivar of red orange, particularly rich in active compounds such as anthocyanins, hydroxycinnamic acids, flavone glycosides and ascorbic acid, which displays anti-obesity effects in in vitro and in vivo studies. In this clinical study, the effect of a Moro juice extract (Morosil®, 400 mg/die) supplementation was evaluated in overweight healthy human volunteers for 12 weeks. Results showed that Moro juice extract intake was able to induce a significant reduction in body mass index (BMI) after 4 weeks of treatment (p < 0.05). Moreover, in subjects treated with Moro extract, body weight, BMI, waist and hip circumference were significantly different from the placebo group (p < 0.05). In conclusion, it could be suggested that the active compounds contained in Moro juice have a synergistic effect on fat accumulation in humans and Moro juice extract can be used in weight management and in the prevention of human obesity. Be well! JP

  2. JP Says:

    Updated 10/17/15:


    Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2015 Nov;66(7):830-6.

    Red-fleshed sweet orange juice improves the risk factors for metabolic syndrome.

    Orange juice consumption can promote lower levels of oxidative stress and inflammation due to the antioxidant activity of citrus flavonoids and carotenoids. In addition, red-fleshed sweet orange juice (red orange juice) also contains lycopene. This study investigated the effects of red orange juice consumption on risk factors for metabolic syndrome. Volunteers consumed red orange juice daily for 8 weeks, with clinical and biochemical assessments performed at baseline and on the final day. There was no change in the abdominal obesity, but low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, C-reactive protein decreased, while there was an increase of the antioxidant activity in serum after red orange juice consumption. Insulin resistance and systolic blood pressure were reduced in normal-weight volunteers, while diastolic blood pressure decreased in overweight volunteers after intervention. Red orange juice showed anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and lipid-lowering properties that may prevent the development of metabolic syndrome.

    Be well!


  3. JP Says:

    Updated 05/24/16:


    Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2016 Apr 20.

    Serum β-cryptoxanthin and β-carotene derived from Satsuma mandarin and brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity: The Mikkabi cohort study.

    BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Findings of observational studies suggest cardioprotective effects of antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids. However, recent meta-analyses failed to show the beneficial effects of supplemental intake of antioxidants on cardiovascular disease (CVD). We aimed to assess the association between CVD risk and β-cryptoxanthin in Japan, where Satsuma mandarin, a major source of β-cryptoxanthin, is widely consumed.

    METHODS AND RESULTS: This was part of the Mikkabi cohort study. Surveys were conducted at baseline, in 2003 and 2005, and on follow-up in 2006, 2009, and 2013. We examined brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV) with a high cut-off value set at 18.3 m s-1. Hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals for high baPWV were estimated using a Cox proportional hazards model with adjustment for potential confounders. A total of 635 participants with baPWV of less than 18.3 m s-1 at baseline were included in the analysis. During the follow-up period of 57,921 person-months, 99 subjects developed high baPWV. After multivariate adjustment, the HR for high baPWV in the highest tertile compared with the lowest tertile was significantly low for β-cryptoxanthin, β-carotene, and total carotenoids. Serum concentrations of β-cryptoxanthin and β-carotene were higher in people who ate Satsuma mandarin frequently. Compared with <1/d intake of Satsuma mandarin, 3-4/d was associated with a low risk of high PWV.

    CONCLUSION: This study indicated that β-cryptoxanthin and β-carotene derived from Satsuma mandarin are candidate micronutrients for preventing arteriosclerosis development. Further longitudinal and interventional studies will be required to validate the effect on CVD.

    Be well!


  4. JP Says:

    Updated 02/13/17:


    Nutrients 2017, 9(2), 130

    Orange Pomace Improves Postprandial Glycemic Responses: An Acute, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind, Crossover Trial in Overweight Men

    Abstract: Orange pomace (OP), a fiber-rich byproduct of juice production, has the potential for being formulated into a variety of food products. We hypothesized that OP would diminish postprandial glycemic responses to a high carbohydrate/fat breakfast and lunch. We conducted an acute, randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind, crossover trial with 34 overweight men who consumed either a 255 g placebo (PLA), a low (35% OP (LOP)), or a high (77% (HOP)) dose OP beverage with breakfast. Blood was collected at 0, 10, 20, 30, and 45 min and at 1, 1.5, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5.5, 6, 6.5, 7, and 8 h. Lunch was consumed after the 5.5-h blood draw. OP delayed the time (Tmax1) to the maximum concentration (Cmax1) of serum glucose during the 2-h period post breakfast by ≥36% from 33 (PLA) to 45 (HOP) and 47 (LOP) min (p = 0.055 and 0.013, respectively). OP decreased post-breakfast insulin Cmax1 by ≥10% and LOP delayed the Tmax1 by 14 min, compared to PLA at 46 min (p ≤ 0.05). HOP reduced the first 2-h insulin area under concentration time curve (AUC) by 23% compared to PLA. Thus, OP diminishes postprandial glycemic responses to a high carbohydrate/fat breakfast and the second meal in overweight men.

    Be well!


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