Oranges normally have a highly respectable reputation. They're full of immune-boosting vitamin C, offer numerous bone-building minerals and deliver a large dose of fiber. If you're eating several throughout the day, though, these normally healthful fruits quickly go from good to bad. Weight gain, heartburn and irregularity are some of the negative effects of overindulging in oranges.
Increase in Weight
Oranges are low in calories in comparison to candy bars, chips, baked goodies and other snacks found in the vending machine. That doesn't make them guilt-free, however. Eating too many oranges means that you'll be consuming more calories than you may think. For example, a large 3-inch, 6 1/2-ounce orange contains about 85 calories. Snacking on one after each meal creates a 255-calorie surplus in your diet. Because you need to consume 3,500 calories more than you burn each day to gain a pound, you could be a pound heavier after two weeks.
Pain from Acid Reflux
Frequent bouts of heartburn, medically known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, can be incredibly painful. If the sphincter that is supposed to stay shut at the base of your esophagus remains open, that stomach acid is free to travel upward. High-acid fruits, including oranges, are known to worsen this condition. Citrus fruits won't increase the acid in your stomach, but their naturally high acid content could intensify pain you experience when you have heartburn.
Difficulty Relieving Yourself
You already know that fiber is essential for regularity. But you can go overboard. If you don't normally have much fiber in your diet, quickly increasing your intake could slow down your bowels. You might go for a longer-than-normal period of time without relieving yourself. Or when you do try to go to the bathroom, stools could be hard, dry and challenging for you to pass. That same large 3-inch orange has about 4.4 grams of fiber. Have three of them in one day and you'll get nearly 13 grams of fiber. That's almost half of the 28 grams you're supposed to have for a 2,000-calorie diet, since, according to "Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010," you need 14 grams for every 1,000 calories. Depending on what else you eat during the day, that could be too much for your system to handle.
Diarrhea and Abdominal Cramps
Constipation isn't the only digestive complication you could experience if you regularly eat lots of oranges. All that extra fiber may lead to diarrhea instead of, or in addition to, occasional back-up. If you're having abdominal cramps, or if your gut is making a lot of gurgling sounds, you might be gearing up to pass a very loose stool. Cut back on your orange servings if this occurs. You still want to shoot for your recommended fiber intake -- just go slow and increase it over a long period. Have just one or two oranges daily, in addition to small servings of veggies and other high-fiber foods, as tolerated.
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Oranges, Raw, All Commercial Varieties
- Colorado State University Extension: Dietary Fiber
- MedlinePlus: Gastroesophageal Reflux -- Discharge
- Providence Health Services: Ask an Expert: Can a Person Eat Too Much Fruit?
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- Columbia University: Which Foods are Acidic?