Navel Oranges: One of Nature’s Most Important Foods

Red Navels
Red Navel Oranges, often called “Ravels”

The Navel Orange is one of the most popular, unique and versatile of the oranges.  The navel orange can be cut open and eaten right off the peel, squeezed and drunk as a juice, a favorite addition to fruit salads, or even turned into preserves or jams, such as the ever popular orange marmalade.  Orange oil from navel oranges is a byproduct of the orange peel which is used to flavor food and drink as well as for fragrance in perfumes and aromatherapy.  Gardeners often use orange peels as a slug repellent.  Orange blossoms can be dried and then used to make a delicious, aromatic tea.

Fresh navel oranges are available from winter through late spring, depending on your region of the country.  When you go to the market, the kind of navel orange you should look for is one that feels heavy for its size and has no soft spots, outward pitting or mold.

Navel oranges are seedless, and the flesh inside is naturally very sweet and juicy.  From the outside, the blossom end looks like a human navel.  When a naval orange is peeled, there is a partially formed, undeveloped conjoined “twin” fruit on the blossom end on the inside.

Although navel oranges originally came from Brazil, today they are grown primarily in Florida, Arizona and California, and the navel orange cultivation industry is very important in the United States.

In addition to their sweet, refreshing taste, navel oranges are also well known and considered very important for their health benefits, especially the antioxidant vitamin C, their main nutritional ingredient.  Every morning millions of people drink orange juice from navel oranges as a source of vitamin C.

The human body does not naturally produce vitamin C on its own.  Vitamin C not only helps boost the human immune system, but it also prevents heart disease, aids in healing wounds, and helps the body absorb iron.  One of the best ways to get the right amount of vitamin C is to drink a fresh squeezed juice from a navel orange or to eat it right off the peel.

There are other health advantages to consuming navel oranges as well.  The fiber content in navel oranges can help improve cholesterol ratios in the body.  Beta-carotene is an antioxidant found in navel oranges which helps prevent cell damage.  Other nutrients in navel oranges are also known to help to prevent other types of cancer as well, including stomach and esophagus cancer.