Value Of Oranges In The Diet
( Originally Published 1936 )
We are going to inquire into the virtues of the natural foods an ordinary person would naturally eat in the course of the day. We want to know what place they have in contributing to our health and bodily economy. We want to know how they act, how they are digested. To investigate what harm they do, if any, and if they do no harm, to understand why, so that we can cast off any fear of them and be emancipated.
The natural place to start is breakfast, and the natural beginning is fruit, It does not make much difference what fruit. A half an orange is about the same from the nutritional standpoint as half a grapefruit. Indeed, as half a cantaloupe. Grapes, an apple, sliced peaches, melon, even prunes, are not so very different. How different we will also try to find out. But fruit is an essential part of a natural diet on account of its vitamin—especially Vitamin C—content, and for its roughage—and "buffer" value—and its role in stimulating the appetite.
To begin with, let us put up a scoreboard for all our natural foods. The scoreboard has a place for all the necessary parts of a diet. The three basic food elements first. The energizers, starch and fat, the tissue builder protein. Second, the minerals—sodium, iron, phosphorus and calcium; and the vitamins. Water, of course. And then some requirements for digestion—roughage and general digestibility.
How do we score the orange? The whole fruit is a little better than orange juice because the pulp is good roughage and promotes evacuation. If you are one of those individuals with an irritable digestive tube stick to the juice. The main contribution of the orange to nutrition is in the form of carbohydrate—its fruit sugar. In an average orange there are about 15 grams of carbohydrate; so in one-half orange 7 1/2 grams, making about 30 calories of the 2,000 we need for the day. But it is economical energy, quickly absorbed, quickly used. All the breakfast fruits do this, grapes and apples having somewhat more carbohydrate than the others.
Of protein or fat the orange has almost none.
Its second great contribution to nutrition is its Vitamin C content —good for the teeth, the skin, the blood, prevents scurvy. All of the fruits mentioned above have some of this, except the prunes.
The orange, like most fruits, has a good supply of minerals—mostly in the form of vegetable acids. But as these are broken down by digestion and reduced to alkaline ions, the general effect of the orange is to prevent an acid reaction in the blood--combat acid, as the saying is.
So our score on the orange is:
Protein, 0; carbohydrate, plus; fat, 0; energy, 30; salts, plus; vitamin, plus C; H20, plus; roughage, plus; digestibility, plus. Basic, not acid in reaction.