Blood oranges — Not your typical orange

I spied an interesting fruit in the produce section last week that I hadn’t eaten for a while. The name doesn’t sound all that appetizing, but the flavor and nutrient content are both great. That fruit was a variety of orange called blood oranges, which have a distinctive look when you cut them open and see the deep red- or crimson-colored flesh. The blood oranges’ red pigment is an anthocyanin and it is an antioxidant.

Antioxidants are found in many red and purple fruits and vegetables and are known to have heart health protective qualities. Blood oranges have greater amounts of these antioxidants than regular oranges do, and they have a unique flavor as well; a sweet flavor with a hint of raspberry. Blood oranges are cultivated in the United States and are in season from December to March in Texas and from November to May in California. The anthocyanins develop when temperatures are low at night.

Blood oranges, and regular oranges, are fat free, cholesterol free, low in sodium and an excellent source of vitamin C. One medium orange contains about 80 calories. Oranges are good as a snack or mixed into a fruit salad. Following is an interesting salad recipe if you want something a little different:

Spinach/Orange Salad

5 ounces fresh spinach, rinse and pat dry

5 ounces baby spinach, rinse and pat dry

4 Blood Oranges (Moro), peeled and segmented

4 ounces Prosciutto (Italian cured ham), cubed

1 bundle (10-12 spears) asparagus, trimmed and roasted in 1 Tbsp olive oil, then cut into 1 1/2″ pieces

1/2 cup dried, tart cherries

6 pieces Marble Rye Bread, toasted and made into croutons

Toss above listed ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Serve with a vinaigrette dressing of your choice. Enjoy.

Cheryl Rude is a registered dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center.