Deep red and purple hues fill the flesh of the blood orange, a delicious fruit available through winter and spring. According to the National Gardening Association a cooler climate plays a role in the formation of the deep red color, as does the presence of anthocyanin.
Anthocyanin is an antioxidant found in several fruits but not often seen in citrus. Studies have shown anthocyanin may reduce inflammation, inhibit cancer growth, and reduce free radical damage. Blood oranges contain much higher amounts of anthocyanin than navel oranges, making it a great disease fighting fruit.
Blood oranges are primarily grown in Italy, although their origin is likely from China or southern Mediterranean. The cool temperatures at night during the fall and winter allow the anthocyanin to develop and give the blood orange its distinct color. It tastes less acidic compared to other oranges, and often has a subtle taste of berries.
One blood orange has about 70 calories and is a high source of vitamin C, delivering over 100% of daily recommended allowance. Vitamin C also works as an antioxidant in the body while repairing tissue and building collagen. Blood oranges are rich in folate which is needed for healthy red blood cells. Adequate intake is also associated with lowering cancer and heart disease risk. Vitamin A is also found in high amounts, this fat soluble vitamin is important for vision, the immune system, and healthy skin.
Blood oranges can be enjoyed in many different ways. Try adding segments into a arugula and fennel salad drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil. Or perhaps reduce the juice into a glaze to spread over roasted turkey or scallops.