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Brain Food: When Life Hands You Lemons, Ask for Oranges Instead

This entry is part of a series, Brain Food»

Sliced Orange

Maybe the first thing you can say about oranges is, they taste good. Most of you will find oranges easier to add to your diet (or use more of) than, say, spinach or kale. We already know that oranges bring a good dose of vitamin C and fiber, as do all the citrus fruits. Their calories come from sugars, by and large; but they have a low glycemic load (which means diabetics can have pretty much all they want) and they are mildly anti-inflammatory. They’re even good on a diet, as they’re both filling (compared to calories consumed) and nutritious.

Is that enough to declare oranges a great brain food? Well, almost…

Orange JuiceThe part that’s great for the brain, and not often found on nutrition charts, is the flavonoid content. You don’t need to know the chemistry (there’s no final exam here), but these materials are antioxidants. They’re different from anthocyanins (oxidants discussed in the previous post in this series), so they protect different portions of the body’s chemistry. According to the Linus Pauling Institute and the U.S. National Library of Medicine, these protective compounds appear to have the ability to improve memory and cognition. This effect is especially pronounced in the elderly population. (This one’s for you, Tom.)

Here’s another beautiful thing about oranges: We’ve got plenty. Compared to other sources of brain nutrients, they’re economical. Even high-quality, not-from-concentrate juice is relatively inexpensive on a unit basis. So there’s no money excuse to avoid the orange.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Yeah, okay, I hear you. But I don’t know how to cook with oranges, and I get bored after the eleventy-thousandth glass of juice.” Have you tried making marmalade from them? It’s easier than you think, and the spread retains most of the nutrition value of the oranges. Put some orange sections on a salad. (Pair with goat cheese; they go great with that one!) Glaze some swordfish using an orange sauce. You want spicy? Try this shrimp recipe. Even beef goes nicely with oranges. And of course, there are a myriad of desserts you can build containing oranges.

Those should tide you over, I’d think. And give you lots more ideas for how to use these sweet orbs of goodness. Indeed, about the only drawback to an orange, as far as this writer is concerned, is that there are no words that rhyme with it. Other than that…

Enjoy the (Seriously Sweet Citrusy) Heat!

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