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July 26, 2023
April 16, 2024
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Oranges are round citrus fruits that grow on trees and originally came from China. Today, these fruits are grown in warm climates worldwide, including the United States, Mexico, and Spain. Oranges can come in many varieties, including Navel, Mandarin, Cara Cara, Blood, Valencia, Seville, and Jaffa oranges.

Regardless of the type of orange you consume, each variety contains 100% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C. 

This article will explore how oranges may impact blood sugar levels and the health benefits of including this fruit in your diet. 

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Glycemic Index Table

Oranges are considered a low glycemic index fruit, with a score between 43 and 52, depending on the variety of oranges chosen.¹ Low glycemic index fruits are often high in fiber and essential nutrients, which is true for the orange. 

While fresh fruit is always the best option, many people consume oranges by drinking orange juice, which can contain added sugars. These add-ins can dramatically increase the glycemic index of the beverage, and people living with chronic conditions like diabetes should be mindful of consumption. When selecting a juice product, look for freshly squeezed orange juice and review the nutrition label to determine if other ingredients have been added to the mixture.

The below glycemic index and glycemic load data is for 100g of raw navel oranges:¹ ²

Glycemic Index

45

Serving Size

100g

Carbohydrate* per Serving (g)

11.8 g

GL per Serving

7.00

Nutritional Facts

Besides vitamin C, oranges are full of potassium and folate, two essential nutrients. Potassium supports heart, muscle, and bone health, while folate (a B vitamin) helps make red blood cells and DNA. Oranges also supply small amounts of calcium and magnesium.

The below nutritional information is for 100g of raw navel oranges.² 

Calories

52 kcal

Carbs

11.8 g

Protein

0.94 g

Fiber

2 g

Cholesterol

0 mg

Vitamins

C (59.1 mg), A (11 µg), B6 (0.06 mg), Folate (25 µg)

Sodium

0 mg

Total Fat

0.15 g

Are Oranges Good for Weight Loss?

Oranges are an incredible fruit choice for those looking to lose weight. However, while orange juice is one of the most consumed beverages in the United States, it differs from consuming whole oranges.¹⁴ One cup of pure orange juice contains almost double the calories of a whole orange and twice as much sugar.² ¹⁵ Also, orange juice has less fiber, so it’s less filling and could lead to excessive calorie consumption.² ¹⁵

A medium-sized navel orange can contain up to 2 grams of fiber. The fiber content in these oranges can help reduce cholesterol and belly fat (visceral fat). 

A 2022 study tracked the food habits of almost 1,500 people with metabolic syndrome who were classified as overweight or obese. The researchers found that after 12 months, people who increased their fiber intake reduced their body weight and visceral fat.¹⁶

Also, oranges contain flavonoids, a compound with several antioxidant properties. A 2017 study found that high intakes of flavonoids can help reduce fat mass.¹⁷

Some ways to enjoy oranges include:

  • Eating it as a whole fruit
  • Adding them as a topping to overnight oats, salads, stir-fry, or slaw
  • Zesting orange peels to add flavor to dishes
  • Juicing an orange for a marinade or soup

Are Oranges Safe for People Living with Diabetes?

Oranges are a safe choice for people living with diabetes due to their low glycemic index and low glycemic load ratings. 

Oranges are rich in insoluble fiber that adds bulk to stool and improves digestion. Fiber helps slow down the absorption of carbohydrates after eating and can help decrease dramatic increases in blood sugar levels. One review of fifteen studies found that fiber can help reduce fasting blood sugar and HbA1c levels in people living with type 2 diabetes.¹⁰

A medium-sized navel orange also supplies 12% of the daily recommended value of folate. Some studies suggest that folate may lower insulin levels and improve insulin resistance, blood sugar management, and symptoms of diabetes-induced eye diseases.² ¹¹ ¹² Oranges also contain 6% of the daily recommended value of potassium, which can decrease the risk of insulin resistance.² ¹³

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Allergies

Orange allergies are normally classified as a general fruit allergy or an allergy to citrus fruits. Symptoms of an orange allergy include itchiness of the mouth, lips, or throat, swelling, and redness. In severe cases, allergic reactions can cause hives, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis. Please consult a healthcare professional if you suspect an allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance to oranges.

Outside of an allergic reaction, oranges can also pose the following risks:

  • Aggravating symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Increased heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Interactions with certain prescription drugs

If you are concerned about adding oranges to your diet, please consult your healthcare provider.

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FAQs

What is Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels compared to a reference food, usually glucose. It ranks foods on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher values indicating a faster rise in blood sugar. The glycemic index (GI) scale is typically categorized as follows: Low GI [55 or less], Medium GI [56-69], High GI [70 or higher]. Foods with a high glycemic index digest rapidly and can cause dramatic fluctuations in blood glucose or glucose spikes.

What is Glycemic Load?

Glycemic load (GL) takes into account both the quality (glycemic index) and quantity (carbohydrate content) of carbohydrates in a specific serving of food. It is a measure of how much a particular food will raise blood sugar levels. GL is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index of a food by its carbohydrate content and dividing it by 100. It provides a more accurate representation of the overall impact of a food on blood sugar compared to the glycemic index alone.

Does Orange Spike Insulin?

No, oranges do not typically cause a significant spike in insulin levels. They have a low to moderate glycemic index and contain dietary fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar levels. However, individual responses may vary, and it's important to consider portion control and overall dietary context when managing blood sugar levels.

Are Oranges Low Glycemic?

Yes, oranges are considered low glycemic due to their low glycemic index (GI) score of around 40-50. This means they have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels and can be a good choice for people with diabetes or those looking to manage their blood sugar levels.

Can People Living with Diabetes Eat Orange?

Yes, people living with diabetes can eat oranges in moderation as they are a good source of fiber and vitamin C. However, they should be mindful of their overall carbohydrate intake and monitor their blood sugar levels.

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References

  1. University of Sydney. (2023, May 1). Glycemic Index – Glycemic Index Research and GI Newshttps://glycemicindex.com/
  2. USDA FoodData Central. (2019, Dec 16). Food Details - Oranges, raw, navels. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/746771/nutrients 
  3. Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for water, potassium, sodium, chloride, and sulfate (2005). National Academies Press. www.nap.edu/read/10925/chapter/1. 
  4. US Food and Drug Administration. (2021 October). Interactive Nutrition Facts Label- Dietary Fiber. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/interactivenutritionfactslabel/assets/InteractiveNFLDietaryFiberOctober2021.pdf 
  5. Miles EA, Calder PC. Effects of citrus fruit juices and their bioactive components on inflammation and immunity: A narrative review. Front Immunol. 2021;12:712608. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2021.712608
  6. Kocaoz, S., Cirpan, R., & Degirmencioglu, A. Z. (2019). The prevalence and impacts heavy menstrual bleeding on anemia, fatigue and quality of life in women of reproductive age. Pakistan journal of medical sciences, 35(2), 365–370. https://doi.org/10.12669/pjms.35.2.644
  7. Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin C - health professional fact sheet.
  8. Barreca D, Gattuso G, Bellocco E, et al. Flavanones: Citrus phytochemical with health-promoting properties: Citrus phytochemical with health-promoting properties. Biofactors. 2017;43(4):495-506. doi:10.1002/biof.1363
  9. Chang SC, Cassidy A, Willett WC, et al. Dietary flavonoid intake and risk of incident depression in midlife and older women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016;104(3):704-714. doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.124545
  10. Post, R. E., Mainous, A. G., 3rd, King, D. E., & Simpson, K. N. (2012). Dietary fiber for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine : JABFM, 25(1), 16–23. https://doi.org/10.3122/jabfm.2012.01.110148
  11. Akbari, M., Tabrizi, R., Lankarani, K. B., Heydari, S. T., Karamali, M., Keneshlou, F., Niknam, K., Kolahdooz, F., & Asemi, Z. (2018). The Effects of Folate Supplementation on Diabetes Biomarkers Among Patients with Metabolic Diseases: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Hormone and metabolic research = Hormon- und Stoffwechselforschung = Hormones et metabolisme, 50(2), 93–105. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0043-125148
  12. Gargari, B. P., Aghamohammadi, V., & Aliasgharzadeh, A. (2011). Effect of folic acid supplementation on biochemical indices in overweight and obese men with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes research and clinical practice, 94(1), 33–38. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.diabres.2011.07.003
  13. Ekmekcioglu, C., Elmadfa, I., Meyer, A. L., & Moeslinger, T. (2016). The role of dietary potassium in hypertension and diabetes. Journal of physiology and biochemistry, 72(1), 93–106. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13105-015-0449-1
  14. Maillot, M., Vieux, F., Rehm, C., & Drewnowski, A. (2020). Consumption of 100% Orange Juice in Relation to Flavonoid Intakes and Diet Quality Among US Children and Adults: Analyses of NHANES 2013-16 Data. Frontiers in nutrition, 7, 63. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2020.00063
  15. USDA FoodData Central. (2019, Dec 16). Food Details - Orange juice, raw. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169098/nutrients
  16. Zamanillo-Campos R, Chaplin A, Romaguera D, et al. Longitudinal association of dietary carbohydrate quality with visceral fat deposition and other adiposity indicators. Clin Nutr. 2022;41(10):2264-2274. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2022.08.008
  17. Jennings A, MacGregor A, Spector T, et al. Higher dietary flavonoid intakes are associated with lower objectively measured body composition in women: Evidence from discordant monozygotic twins. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017;105(3):626-634. doi:10.3945/ajcn.116.144394

About the author

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About the author

Brittany Barry is a national board-certified health coach and NASM-certified personal trainer based in South Carolina.

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Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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