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Apples are the fruit most famous for keeping the doctor away, but new research shows oranges might give apples a run for their money. Rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals, oranges may help prevent many chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and some cancers.
Cancer Fighter: Adding an orange a day to your five fruit and veggie servings may cut the risk of stomach, larynx, and mouth cancers, according to research in Australia. Eating the fruit cut the risk of those cancers up to 50 percent. Researchers say the benefit comes from the fruit's more than 170 phytochemicals and 60 flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and blood clot-inhibiting properties.
Skin Saver: A compound found in oranges and other citrus fruits may prevent sun-related damage when applied directly to the skin before sun exposure, say researchers at the Arizona Cancer Center, in Tucson. The reason? This compound, perillyl alcohol, may stop cancerous lesions from growing by removing cancer-causing chemicals from the skin. Eating oranges, pomegranates, and grapes, or drinking fruit juices may provide some protection, but not nearly as much as applying the fruit directly to the skin. Because wearing fruit juice isn't truly an option, experts hope to develop sunscreen products that include these extracts within five years.
Heart Helper: Drinking two 8-ounce glasses of orange juice a day can reduce systolic blood pressure by an average of 7 percent and diastolic blood pressure by about 4.6 percent, according to a study at the Cleveland Clinic, a nonprofit medical practice in Ohio with an emphasis on education and research. Nutrients such as potassium, found naturally in orange juice, are known to reduce blood pressure.
Diabetics and Dieters Beware: Every glass comes with a hefty dose of sugar.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal magazine, March 2004.