Healthy Living Help: How Many Calories are in an Orange?

Oranges and other citrus fruit are always plentiful right around Christmastime in Canada. Although we do see oranges, lemons, and grapefruit at other times of the year, they tend to be more expensive. The selection is also much smaller. But just when our weather is turning gloomy and grey, something magical happens. The grocery store explodes with several kinds of oranges, big bags of grapefruit, and crates of clementines. Citrus fruits ripen just before the Christmas season, which explains why the supply is so big this time of year.

As an item we’ve had to import, citrus fruits have traditionally been a luxury item. And because many oranges ripen right before Christmas, it seems only natural to think of them as a holiday treat. When you were little, did Santa leave a clementine in the toe of your stocking on Christmas Eve? I know he did that at our house, and he still does it for my kids today!

Oranges of all kinds are an integral part of the Christmas season for us. We bake with them and include them in our Christmas gifts. We also like to eat more citrus this time of year to help maintain a healthy immune system, so we’ll be stronger to fight off colds and flu.

What is One Serving Size for Oranges?

According to Canada’s Food Guide, a serving size for fruits and vegetables is 1/2 cup, or 125 ml. This is the equivalent of 1/2 cup of fresh, frozen or canned fruit, or fruit juice. For whole produce, the serving is generally one medium-sized fruit or vegetable – or whatever would fit in your hand.

Portion sizes in the UK are based on 80g of fresh fruit or a maximum of 150 ml fruit juice or smoothies per day. When eating whole oranges, a single serving is one medium-sized orange (for example, a Navel orange or Valencia orange) or two smaller oranges (clementines, satsumas, or other Mandarins.) Under the American MyPlate system, serving sizes are complicated. But the American Heart Association suggests a serving of one medium fruit, about the size of a baseball, or 1/2 cup fresh, frozen, or canned fruit or fruit juice.

Dietary guidelines for portion sizes may differ where you live. But it seems that a good rule of thumb is that a single portion of oranges is one handful of whole fruit or 1/2 cup of cut fruit.

Did you know the sweet orange is actually a hybrid of two other citrus fruits? #24CarrotDiet
Did you know that sweet oranges are a hybrid fruit? They’re a cross between a pomelo (pictured here) and a mandarin orange.
(Image: Amy Ross/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0) 


Do Some Oranges Have More Calories than Others?

I was really curious about whether some types of oranges have more calories than others, and whether some have differing amounts of carbs, fibre, and other nutrients. So I checked out the USDA’s National Nutrient Database. I looked at Navel, California, and Florida oranges, as well as clementines and tangerines. Here’s what I discovered.

For 100 g of fruit, all the different orange varieties I looked at have roughly the same number of calories: about 86-87 calories. So the total number of calories per 100 g of these oranges is pretty much the same. Looking at the total carbohydrate and fibre values, all the oranges had fairly close values as well. Carbs are all around 12-13 g per 100 g, with roughly 2 g of dietary fibre.

The larger oranges did tend to have slightly higher values around the 2.5 g, whereas the tangerines and clementines have just under 2 g of fibre. For a single portion here and there, that’s probably not a major difference for the average person. But for anyone who eats a lot of oranges, or for elite athletes or individuals whose diet is restricted for health reasons, that tiny difference could be significant enough to affect the choice of what type of oranges you might want to enjoy with a meal.

When it comes to vitamin and mineral content, there did seem to be more variation between different types of oranges. Again, this is probably not something most of us need to be concerned with. But if you are trying to maximize or restrict intake of a specific nutrient, you might be interested in comparing the nutritional profiles for your favourite orange varieties side by side.


Are Oranges a Healthy Snack?

So are oranges a healthy snack? Absolutely! A medium-sized orange supplies only 62 calories. That’s pretty low-cal, next to the 100- or 200-calorie snacks that advertisers are pushing today. That one orange supplies 116% of your daily vitamin C requirement, 12% of fibre, and more modest amounts of vitamins A and B6, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. If you are a smoker, your body has a greater need for anti-oxidants like vitamin C. So oranges are an especially good choice for a snack or a fruit to eat with your lunch.

Orange juice has less fibre than whole oranges and may contain as much sugar as soft drinks
Nutrition experts recommend we cut out juices and eat whole fruits like oranges instead
(Image: pixel2013/Pixabay/CC0 1.0)

What About Orange Juice?

You probably grew up seeing images of a “complete breakfast” that included cold cereal, toast, milk, and that ubiquitous glass of orange juice. Fruit juice, especially orange juice, was a household staple. We looked on it as a way of getting our daily allowance of vitamin C and relied on orange juice so much for that one nutrient that we could hardly think of any other food that contained it.

We might have named a few other citrus fruits if pressed for an answer. But when you were growing up, did anyone ever teach you that some brassicas like broccoli and Brussels sprouts have more vitamin C by weight than oranges do? If you eat a lot of kale, you might be surprised that by weight, kale contains twice the vitamin C of oranges. And I have to include this last one because in my house, we really love sweet bell peppers: sweet yellow peppers contain more than triple the vitamin C of oranges by weight!

I know all of this isn’t directly related to orange juice. But when you think about how advertisers sold us orange juice as a sure-fire way to get our vitamin C, it makes you wonder what other foods they were intentionally omitting. In light of the current health concerns related to drinking juices instead of eating whole foods, was that morning OJ more about buying into the advertising than about staying healthy?



Cutting Back on Fruit Juice

These days, many doctors and dietitians are recommending that we cut juices out of our diet. Although the formal nutritional guidelines in many cases still include both fruit and vegetable juices, there is often a warning that we should only replace a single serving of whole fruit or vegetables with juice or smoothies each day. Because these drinks remove a lot of the important fibre content, they don’t fill us up as much. And in many commercial fruit juices, there is as much sugar as in the same serving of soft drink.

I don’t know about you, but given that information, I decided to think of juice as a bit of a treat. It’s something that I used to indulge in daily – especially my beloved Ruby red grapefruit juice! But now I only buy it now and again. I try to eat the whole fruit regularly instead, and I find that I really do enjoy a whole clementine or Navel orange much more than a small glass of juice.


Christmas Citrus Fruit Binge?

Do you find that your family eats more oranges and other citrus fruits around the Christmas season? I know we always take advantage of the cases of clementines at this time of year. In our little town, we don’t have a lot of selection when it comes to oranges. So when the clementines come around we usually buy as many as we can. We also stock up on bags of Navel oranges, grapefruit and lemons around the holidays as well.

What’s your favourite way to serve oranges? Drop me a little word about it in the comments below!


Want to pin this post for later? Feel free to use the graphic below:


How many calories are in an orange?
Eating oranges won’t spoil your diet
PLEASE PIN THIS ARTICLE – remember sharing is caring!
Graphic made in Canva using a public domain image by Pixabay user WerbeFabrik


Did you enjoy this article? Check out some related content below!


How many calories are in a carrot? | 24 Carrot Diet | (Graphic made in Canva using a public domain image by Pixabay user jackmac34)



5 Fantastic Ways To Liven Up The Humble Turnip (Graphic made in Canva using a public domain image by Pixabay user Kovbaskina)



It's OK If Your Kids Aren't Eating The Perfect Diet Everyday (Graphic made in Canva using a public domain image by Pixabay user Alexas_Fotos)


Original content © 2017 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter

This article was published on my food blog, 24 Carrot Diet. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!

35 thoughts on “Healthy Living Help: How Many Calories are in an Orange?”

  1. Wow! I didn’t know all that about oranges. My parents used to have a tangelo tree (a hybrid between a tangerine and a grapefruit), and I used to eat two or three a day. Citrus is one of my favorite snacks. 🙂

    1. That’s interesting, Stephanie. Citrus fruit is very refreshing in summer, that’s for sure! I eat oranges year round. They’re just much more plentiful around harvest time, which for many kinds of oranges is mid-fall through winter.

    1. I can understand why! It’s one of my favourite juices too (although grapefruit is my absolute favourite.) Just keep in mind that you should count is as one portion of fruit, and that you should limit the portion to only 1/2 cup. Whole fruit has benefits that fruit juice lacks, and some fruit juice contains as much sugar as a soft drink. The World Health Organization actually counts fruit juice and fruit juice concentrates as “added sugars.”

    1. I love them too, Salwa. There’s something about the juice and the tang of the acid that makes citrus fruits very appealing to me. I especially love Navel oranges, clementines, red grapefruit, and lemons. My youngest daughter actually eats lemons as if they were oranges!

    1. You’re a lucky one! I don’t tolerate the Florida weather well at all. But I’d love to be able to grow oranges and other citrus fruit, olives, and kiwi in my backyard. The weather is just not right for it here.

    1. Luckily for you, they’re very healthy and most of us can consume them in quantity without suffering any ill effects.

    1. Do you find those oranges stuffed into the toe of the stocking? I can remember finding my orange sometimes in the toe and sometimes up near the top. I’m not sure if there was a particular reason for it, though…

  2. All these info are absolutely spot on! I love reading article about food so informative! You are right, I am finding myself following a very strict diet due to some healthy issues and my doctor was very cleat: eat as much greens as you can and leave the fruit alone. I miss fruit but my body is rebalancing very quickly with veggies.

    1. I know some doctors are giving very restrictive advice about fruit, which I think may do more harm than good unless it’s absolutely necessary for a serious health condition. The rule of thumb that I can remember being told sometime in the foggy, distant past was one serving of fruit per day and at least 4 servings of vegetables (the more, the better.) I think as long as we remember that juice counts against those portions and we try to eat whole, fresh fruits and vegetables, most of us ought to be able to maintain a healthy diet that continues to include fruit.

      But fruit juice can be an issue, especially if consumed in large quantities. And most of us really don’t get enough greens. So I can understand why some doctors are giving what seems to be rather extreme dietary advice.

    1. These days, there is so much advice about different foods we should eat or avoid. It’s nice to know oranges are still a “safe” food 🙂

    1. We have few options for oranges except around the holidays. Usually, there are Navel oranges available and some sort of tangerine or mandarin. I really am not a huge tangerine fan, but I do love clementines. So when they are in season, I tend to indulge as often as I’d like 🙂

    1. I eat my clementines like candy too sometimes! They are so sweet – and much more satisfying than most of the sugary treats I can think of 🙂

    1. In days gone by, many fruits were considered a luxury item. Fruit was reserved for special occasions, especially those fruits that had to be imported. This is why so many of our Christmas foods incorporate fruit. Think fruitcake and plum pudding, sugarplums, and even recipes like sugar cookies made with a bit of orange or lemon zest.

    1. I love them too, Martha. Especially clementines. We just got our first box of clementines for the holiday season. Looking forward to having some after supper tonight 🙂

  3. Love oranges and orange juice, so happy to hear the benefits are still good for you even if other things have more Vitamin C. 🙂

    1. Absolutely! Although moderating our juice intake is a good idea, whole oranges are still a healthy option 🙂

  4. I love oranges, and much prefer them to the juice. When I was a little girl, our stockings we hung for Santa were always filled with fruit and nuts. We grew up poor, in a coal mining town, and that fruit was really a great treat for us…not something we had every day. These days when I eat an orange (I like navels) it always takes me back to those memories. I could see how it could impact someone’s diet, if they needed to watch their intake for any reason. This is surely the season, during the holidays, for these luscious juicy citrus fruits, they’re all over the supermarket now. Too bad we can’t have that abundance in the summer, but of course their growth cycle is such that they come to market in the winter. I love grapefruit too, but can no longer eat it because I’m on blood pressure medications, and something contained in grapefruit affects the strength of those medications, causing them to lower your BP more than they should. So I’ll stick with the navels and I enjoy them peeled, sectioned and savored one by one! I really like your page….but I think I said that already! hahahaha!

    1. I know what it’s like not to be allowed grapefruit, Nancy. I took anti-convulsant meds for over 20 years. With many of those, grapefruit reduces their effectiveness. So no grapefruit halves at breakfast and no Ruby Red juice, either. That was really tough for me! I ate and drank so much grapefruit when I changed meds and didn’t have to worry about drug interactions anymore!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.