Food

Green oranges are still sweet and 6 more surprising facts about the fruit

Americans consume more oranges than any other fruit, mainly because so many are used to make just one glass of orange juice. But how much do you really know about this popular citrus? These surprising facts will give you a whole new appreciation for your sweet fuzzy navels and tangier valencias.

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You've been picking your oranges wrong at the supermarket

Play Video - 0:52

You've been picking your oranges wrong at the supermarket

Play Video - 0:52

A green orange is still great.

Who hasn't shoved a green orange aside while digging in the produce case, looking for a supposedly riper orange fruit? It turns out that you should never judge an orange by its skin color, which doesn't give any indication of flavor or ripeness. "Cool nights can turn the fruit from green to orange, but a heat wave can turn the fruit back to green," explains Nicole Jolly of the web series How Does It Grow? To find the best oranges, just look for firm, fresh-looking fruit.

Forget the fruit bowl — oranges last longest in the fridge.

A refrigerated orange will keep for about 3 to 4 weeks. Those kept at room temperature will only last about one week.

Oranges may keep you sharp.

Consider bringing gifts of oranges when you visit elderly relatives: A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that those who consumed citrus fruits daily were less likely to develop dementia. Another study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (which studied adults averaging 67 years old) linked orange juice consumption to improved blood pressure readings, elevated mood levels, and cognitive function.

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There aren't many orange groves in Orange County, California.

Real estate has edged out agriculture in the OC, so much of the state's crop is actually concentrated in counties like Kern and Tulare, with valencias and navels being some of the most common varieties.

Blood oranges aren't just pretty.

These uniquely colored oranges are often grown in the Mediterranean and get their deep-ruby color from the mix of cold nights and mild days. That hue indicates the presence of anthocyanins, powerful compounds that are thought to slow the growth of some cancer cells.

Side matters.

Yup, side not size. The side of the tree on which the orange grows plays an important role in the fruit's taste. Oranges facing the sunnier, southern half tend to be sweeter, because plants convert energy from sunlight into sugar.

Acidless oranges are a thing.

They're not super-popular (the Oxford Companion to Food calls them "insipid"- ouch!) but this variety is enjoyed by some in Brazil, Italy and North America.

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