With their widespread availability and relatively long shelf life, oranges and lemons make welcome additions to a health- and budget-conscious diet. All fruits contribute to lifelong health, but the Harvard School of Public Health highlights that citrus fruits -- a group that includes lemons and oranges -- may prove especially important for reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease. Lemons and oranges both come loaded with vitamins, as well as phytonutrients that have the potential to fight disease.
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Basic Nutrition Information
Lemons and oranges both provide calories to help get you through the day -- a cup of lemon sections contains 61 calories, while a cup of orange sections provides 85 calories. Both fruits' calories come primarily from carbohydrates, and both oranges and lemons contain natural sugars, which support brain function and nourish your muscles. Lemons and oranges also contain dietary fiber -- 5.9 grams and 4.3 grams per cup, respectively -- which promotes digestive health. A cup of orange or lemon sections each contains approximately 2 grams of protein and less than a gram of fat.
Oranges and lemons both provide ample amounts of vitamin C, and oranges also boost your vitamin A. You need vitamin C for healthy brain function, to maintain strong connective tissues and to help you metabolize cholesterol. A cup of lemon sections contains 112 milligrams of vitamin C, while an equivalent portion of orange sections provides 96 milligrams. A serving of either fruit provides your entire daily vitamin C requirements. Oranges also contain vitamin A, a nutrient that maintains healthy vision and regulates gene activity. A serving of oranges has 405 international units of vitamin A -- 17 percent and 14 percent of the recommended daily intakes for women and men.
Oranges and lemons both contain limonenes, a family of chemicals that benefit your health. One limonene, called d-limonene, acts as an anti-inflammatory, according to an animal study published in "Life Sciences" in 2013, and helps control colitis in rats. An additional test tube study, published in "LIfe Sciences" in 2012, notes that d-limonene fights cancer growth -- it promotes cancer cell death, hinders cancer spread and fights the growth of new blood vessels, a process essential for cancer growth. While the roles of lemon and orange limonenes in disease prevention require more investigation, they might offer health benefits.
Lemons and oranges both make flavorful additions to salads. Add peeled orange slices to a spinach salad, and add more texture with sliced almonds and toasted sesame seeds. To avoid making your salad too sour, combine lemons or lemon juice with ingredients that provide natural sweetness -- such as strawberries or fennel -- to balance the taste profile of your dish. Alternatively, use slices of orange or lemon to naturally flavor water, or steep them in green tea for a refreshing beverage.