Oranges 101: A Complete Guide to Health and Nutrition – Everyday Health

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While there are few known health risks associated with eating oranges, it’s important to take precautions so that you don’t get too much of a good thing. “It is safe to eat oranges every day,” says Lorencz, but “you may want to consider how much you’re eating at once because the natural sugars and acid in oranges can lead to stomach upset in some people.”

For instance, people who have gastroesophageal reflux disease, a chronic digestive condition that can cause frequent heartburn (a painful, burning discomfort in the middle of the chest), may find that certain foods, including citrus fruits, may trigger or worsen their symptoms, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

And some people with certain health conditions or those who are taking medications that should not be taken with citrus fruits should speak to their doctor before reaching for oranges.

People who have hemochromatosis (a condition in which iron levels become too high, which could potentially damage your heart, liver, pancreas, and more) or hyperkalemia (abnormally high levels of potassium in the blood, which can lead to dangerous heart rhythms, or arrhythmias) may also be cautioned by their doctor to limit or avoid certain foods, including ones that are high in vitamin C, which may increase levels of potassium and iron.

In addition, if you take certain antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, or beta-blockers, talk with a doctor about whether it’s safe to eat oranges, as research suggests that certain medications may interact with orange juice.

Finally, be aware that some side effects are associated with oranges, as well as the potential for an allergic reaction in some individuals.

Side Effects

According to Lorencz and Rizzo, potential side effects from oranges include:

  • Diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramps from too much vitamin C
  • Itchy mouth or throat, which may be a sign of an allergy
  • Worsened acid reflux, due to the potential of oranges aggravating the stomach lining
  • High blood potassium if you have kidney issues

Is It Possible to Be Allergic to Oranges?

While an allergy to oranges isn’t considered common, any food can cause an adverse reaction, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI). An allergic reaction to food occurs when your immune system overreacts to something you’ve eaten, triggering symptoms such as hives, swelling of the tongue, shortness of breath, and even anaphylaxis (a life-threatening condition that can cause you to go into shock and stop breathing).

One study published in PLoS One found that people who have grass pollen allergies may have an increased risk for citrus allergies. And according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, oral allergy symptoms (OAS) from eating oranges are most common in people who are allergic to Timothy and orchard grasses, which pollinate during the summer months. OAS can include itchiness and swelling of the mouth, face, lip, tongue, and throat.

But testing positive for sensitivity to citrus doesn’t always mean someone will experience an allergic reaction to the food. According to the ACAAI, not everyone with a pollen allergy experiences OAS after eating oranges.

And the researchers of the PLoS One study noted that many people who tested as having a sensitivity to citrus fruits did not experience OAS after eating the fruit.

If you experience possible symptoms of OAS when you eat oranges, talk to your doctor right away or seek emergency help if the symptoms seem serious.

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