Oranges are an excellent source of Vitamin C, fiber and folate, but new studies are finding that this tasty citrus fruit contains many other health-promoting compounds and offers more natural health benefits than we once thought.

Take the flavinoid antioxidant herperidin, for example. Herperidin, which is found in its highest concentrations in the pith and skin of oranges, has been shown to combat diabetes and reduce the blood vessel inflammation which occurs after eating a fatty meal. Another flavinoid antioxidant, hesperidin, has been shown to significantly lower blood pressure in healthy adults after 4 weeks.

What’s particularly interesting about the hesperidin study is that while the use of purified hesperidin significantly lowered blood pressure, French scientists found that drinking orange juice rather than simply taking pure, isolated hesperidin had an even bigger effect. This implies that antioxidants in oranges work synergistically. So in the case of oranges, eat the whole fruit! Or better yet, drink orange juice concentrate. The concentrate contains the whole orange, skin included. Brazilian researchers found that among adults with high cholesterol, those who drank 750 ml of orange juice concentrate daily for 2 months showed a significant decrease in their LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Other health benefits from oranges? Scientists believe that in addition to lowering blood pressure, reducing bad cholesterol and combating diabetes, orange juice may improve your workouts. One study showed that overweight women enrolled in a fitness program who drank 500 ml of orange juice enjoyed a marked increase in performance, indicated by a 27% decrease in blood lactate, best known for causing the muscle aches and pains we get after a strong workout. The orange juice drinkers also showed increased HDL (good) cholesterol as well as a decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol.