The numerous health benefits navel oranges offer are linked to their high concentration of antioxidants and other health promoting nutrients, including Vitamin C (ascorbic acid),hesperidin, limonene, narirutin and beta-cryptoxanthin. The health benefits of navel oranges range from anti-cancer and anti-asthma effects to the ability to support healthy collagen formation. Collagen is what gives the skin a smooth, wrinkle-free appearance. Almost all citrus fruits contain hesperidin, a health promoting flavonoid, but sweet oranges such as navel oranges are particularly rich in hesperidin. Hesperidin is known to act as a strong antioxidant, protecting the skin from free radical assault. This powerful flavonoid has also been shown to provide protection against, some cancers, including human breast cancer and androgen-dependent prostate cancer, by suppressing cancer cell proliferation. Vitamin C - also abundant in navel oranges - shares many of the health benefits of hesperidin. For starters, Vitamin C appears to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by raising the levels of HDL cholesterol while lowering blood pressure and reducing the conversion of fat into plaque in the arteries. Secondly, a lack of Vitamin C has been shown to help tumors survive and grow more easily. Tumors with low Vitamin C levels have also been found to contain more of HIF-12, a protein that helps cancer thrive and spread. Vitamin C is particularly concentrated in the thick skin of navel oranges. An Italian study published in 2000 followed over 18,000 children aged 6-7 years and found that those eating the most citrus fruit along with kiwifruit had a reduced risk of wheezing. The protective effect of citrus did not appear to be dose related. The authors attributed the lung health benefiting properties of citrus and kiwifruit to their high concentration of Vitamin C.
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