Why Cara Cara oranges might be the perfect winter fruit

When it comes to nutrient-packed fruits, oranges are near the top (along with guavas, watermelons, kiwis, papayas, mangos, and berries).

And around this time of year, oranges are among the few fruits that promise a little in-season sunshine.

Now there’s a new kid on the citrus block. When you’re out hunting for clementines, oranges, and grapefruits, don’t ignore the Cara Cara navel orange bin.

Why we can’t get enough of Cara Caras

Cara Caras may be the perfect oranges: intensely sweet, lower in acid, juicy, no seeds. And that drop-dead gorgeous pink-grapefruit color.

Then there’s the 1½ days’ worth of vitamin C, 30 percent of a day’s vitamin A (regular navels have just 2 percent), and 15 percent of a day’s folate, for just 80 calories.

As for taste, think of a cross between a navel orange and a tangerine, with a hint of berry. Makes us go all weak in the knees.

Cara Caras—they were discovered in 1976 on the Hacienda Cara Cara plantation in Venezuela—are available from December through May.

Peel-and-eat isn’t the only way to enjoy Cara Caras. This salad—from The Healthy Cook, Kate Sherwood—gets its sizzle from seasonal fruit.

Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe.

Quinoa & Winter Fruit Salad

Tri-color quinoa is a combination of white, red, and black quinoa. Use regular (white) quinoa if you can’t find it.

Time: 15 minutes

Serves 6

1 cup tri-color quinoa
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
¼ tsp. kosher salt
¼ cup loosely packed mint leaves
¼ cup loosely packed parsley leaves
2 navel or Cara Cara oranges, peeled and chopped
1 cup pomegranate seeds

1. Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in a fine mesh strainer with cold water.

2. In a medium pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil.

3. Stir in the quinoa and reduce to a low simmer. Cover and cook until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, 15-20 minutes.

4. Rinse under cold water to cool, then drain well.

5. In a large bowl, make the dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, oil, and salt.

6. Chop the herbs and immediately stir them into the dressing.

7. Toss the quinoa with the dressing.

8. Add the oranges and pomegranate seeds and stir gently to combine.

Per serving (1 cup):

  • Calories: 190
  • Total fat: 7 g
  • Saturated fat: 1 g
  • Sodium: 90 mg
  • Carbs: 30 g
  • Total sugar: 9 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Fiber: 5 g
  • Protein: 5 g
Photos: © nattstudio/fotolia.com (orange), © Kate Sherwood/CSPI (salad).

Nutrition Action doesn’t accept any paid advertising or corporate or government donations. Any products recommended by Nutrition Action have been vetted by our staff of nutritionists and are not advertisements by the manufacturers. The information in this post first appeared in the January/February 2017 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.


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13 Replies to “Why Cara Cara oranges might be the perfect winter fruit”

  1. I love Cara Cara oranges and eat one as a lunch dessert every day. Nice to now know the nutritional benefits. It also doesn’t hurt that our local grocery has had them on special for a couple of weeks.

  2. As a type II diabetic, I’d like to know a little about their sugar content. I realize it’s “natural”, but it’s effect is much the same as added sugar when it comes to the effect on me.

      1. Last I checked, the sugar contained in fresh fruits are 100% “naturally occurring”, i.e. they don’t contain any added/processed sugars.

  3. I peeled one for breakfast, then opened my email to read this! They are delicious! I’m delighted to know about the vitamin C content. rogerm22, if you slice just through the skin with a knife, all around the orange, it’s easy to peel.

  4. They are yummy, but I believe their calcium levels are not as high as the navel oranges.
    Can you confirm for me how many mgs of calcium they have per whole orange?

  5. Is it true that you should not eat Cara Cara oranges if you are taking a cholesterol lowering drug? Are Cara Cara oranges part grapefruit?

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