The Florida Navel Orange is one of the most popular of the orange tree varietals and also one of the most unique and versatile. Most people know that oranges have many important health benefits to humans. Millions of people drink orange juice from navel oranges daily as a source of vitamin C, a main nutritional ingredient of navel oranges. Vitamin C helps keep the human immune system strong, works to absorb iron in the body, helps heal wounds, and can even aid in preventing heart disease.
Other important nutrients in navel oranges are beta-carotene, which prevents cell damage, calcium for strong, healthy bones, magnesium to maintain healthy blood pressure and potassium for cell electrolytes in balance. The high fiber content in navel oranges can help improve cholesterol ratios in the body, which is important in controlling diabetes. Other nutrients in navel oranges are also known to help to prevent other types of cancer as well, including stomach and esophagus cancer. One of the best ways to get the right amount of these essential nutrients and others is to drink a cup of fresh squeezed juice from a navel orange or to eat it right off the peel!
The navel orange is also a favorite addition to fruit salads or is used to make preserves or jams, such as the ever popular orange marmalade. Orange oil from navel oranges is a byproduct of the orange peel which is used to flavor food and drink as well as an important ingredient for fragrance in perfumes and aromatherapy. Orange blossoms can be dried and then used to make a delicious, aromatic tea. Gardeners often use orange peels to repel slugs and other garden pests.
Navel oranges are seedless, and the flesh inside is naturally very sweet and juicy, and its taste is very refreshing. The blossom end of a navel orange looks like a human navel from the outside, which is how the fruit acquired its name. When a navel orange is peeled, on the inside of the blossom end there is a partially formed, undeveloped conjoined “twin” fruit. Although navel oranges are clones of a tree originally from Brazil, today they are a very important industry in the United States and grown primarily in Florida, Arizona and California. Depending on your region of the country, fresh navel oranges are available from winter through late spring. The kind of navel orange you should buy at the market is one that feels heavy for its size and has no soft spots or mold.