I often snacked on oranges as a kid, especially during the winter months, to “build up my immune system” as my parents always encouraged. And as an adult, oranges are still one of my favorite fruits, whether I’m eating them whole or sipping a glass of OJ. But these days I reach for a blood orange, rather than a plain navel one, because scientists say they’re even better at helping to ward off colds and viruses!
If you’re unfamiliar with blood oranges, this ruby-fleshed fruit was first documented as early as the 1600s in Italy. Believed to be a variation of a sweet orange, it contains a natural pigment called anthocyanin that gives the inside of the fruit a reddish hue, and also provides it with amped-up antioxidant properties. While the blood orange is strikingly unique in appearance, it offers amazing health perks for keeping your immune system in tip-top shape!
Are blood oranges better for you than navel oranges?
Similar to naval oranges and other citrus fruits, blood oranges are packed with vitamin C — a key vitamin that promotes the production of immune cells that help your body fight against viruses. Interestingly, though, nutritional expert Kathleen Alleaume notes that blood oranges contain about nine times more antioxidants than navel oranges, due to their high anthocyanin content.
And that’s not all! Blood oranges also have double the vitamin A of navel oranges, according to Alleaume. Getting enough vitamin A is necessary for the creation of white blood cells, which eliminate illness-causing viruses and bacteria in your bloodstream. Alleaume also mentions that blood oranges are packed with nutritional compounds called polyphenols, which have been found to reduce inflammation. This anti-inflammatory perk especially comes in handy for clearing your airways and sinuses to relieve sniffling and a stuffy nose.
It’s clear that blood oranges are a winner when it comes to keeping viruses at bay — but what’s the best way to enjoy them?
Can you eat a blood orange like a regular orange?
Blood oranges are available at grocery stores and farmers markets, where they’re usually in season from December through April. They’re known for having a less tangy and slightly sweeter flavor than other oranges, and you can eat them just as you would any other type of orange.
Blood oranges don’t have as many seeds as other oranges, so they’re perfect to peel and eat on their own. You can also toss them in salads for a fresh and fruity twist. (Psst: Try swapping mandarin oranges for blood oranges in this winter fruit and walnut salad recipe.) Or go the Martha Stewart route and use them to make citrus chips as a guilt-free sweet snack to tame sugar cravings and boost your immunity.
Switching up your citrus this time of year can be an amazing way to feel your healthiest as the winter sets in!
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Woman’s World.