Oranges and vitamin C are considered to go hand-in-hand, but is it true? Do oranges contain a high level of vitamin C?
The belief goes back a long way. Grandmothers famously advised us to drink plenty of orange juice when we got sick; half-time sports games were topped with the whiff of discarded orange peels, like oranges were some sort of elixir of long life, strength and good health. But to what do oranges owe this notoriety?
Are Oranges High in Vitamin C?
No. Oranges contain low levels of vitamin C, especially when compared to other fruits and vegetables. There is around 52 milligrams of vitamin C in 100 grams of orange pulp, while 100 grams of kakadu plum can contain a massive 5300 mg of vitamin C.
There are many foods that contain more vitamin C than oranges: kiwi fruit, brussels sprout, acerola, papaya, red chilli and kohlrabi. According to scientific studies, you would need to ingest a huge quantity of oranges to reach an effective amount of vitamin C.
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is one of the few vitamins that the human body is not able to produce itself, meaning it must be introduced. It’s important to introduce this through diet or supplements because vitamin C helps towards an effective immune system.
How Much Vitamin C is in an Orange?
100 grams of orange pulp contains 50 milligrams of vitamin C, about 87 grams of water, 12 grams of carbohydrates (including 9 grams of sugar), 0.7 grams of protein, 1.6 grams of fibre, 200 milligrams of potassium and 49 milligrams of phosphorus.
Kiwis are far better than oranges, containing about 85 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. Even the little-known kohlrabi, or turnip cabbage, contains 62 mg, strawberries 54 mg and papaya 60 mg. And, if you like Brussels sprouts, they are excellent for the immune system with 100 grams containing around 81 mg of vitamin C.
Oranges, however delicious, cannot be defined as a food rich in ascorbic acid. Above all, in order to achieve an appreciable amount of vitamin C, we would have to eat too many - roughly 2 kilos of oranges a day to reach a dose of 1000mg. However, in doing so, you would also introduce an extra 180 grams of sugar into your daily intake, which would not be ideal for achieving a balanced diet.