Foodstruct Advanced Nutrition Search | Diet Analysis | Glycemic index chart | Insulin index chart | Blog

Apple vs Orange - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

Compare
Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan by Victoria Mazmanyan | Last updated on March 29, 2021
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Apple
vs
Orange

Summary

Apples are higher in calories and sugars, while oranges contain more protein. Oranges are richer in most vitamins and minerals, except for vitamin K and iron.

Apples have a lower glycemic index and can significantly reduce the risk of diabetes. Oranges may be the preferred choice to decrease the risk of cancer. 

Introduction

The well-known idiom, comparing apples and oranges, is used when two items being compared are so different that the comparison is not sensible. In this article, we are going against the English language of idioms and doing precisely that.

Apples and oranges are two of the most widely consumed fruits in the world. Here, we will talk about the apparent and not-so-apparent differences, as well as find some similarities, with our main focus being on nutritional compositions and impacts on health.

Classification

Apples and oranges are both fruits that grow on flowering trees. Apple or Malus domestica belongs to the Malus genus and the Rosaceae family, while orange is a hybrid between pomelo and mandarin, belonging to the Citrus genus and the Rutaceae family.

Appearance

Apples and oranges have their apparent spherical shapes in common.

Most apples are seeded, while oranges tend not to be. Depending on the variety, apples come in various colors, such as red, yellow, green, pink, or multicolored.

Both oranges and apples can greatly vary in size.

Taste and Use

Different varieties of orange can taste not only sweet but also sour or bitter due to various levels of sugars and acids.

While some apples are sour, most tend to be sweet.

Both apples and oranges are used in the production of numerous sweets, beverages, and pastries.

Growing Conditions

Apple and orange trees both prefer to grow in full sun but can tolerate partial shade. Apples prefer a slightly acidic to neutral soil, with the pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.0, while oranges can also grow in more basic soils, with the pH falling in the range of 6.5 to 7.5.

Varieties

Apples and oranges, being two of the most widely cultivated fruits globally and each with a rich history that goes back many centuries, have thousands of varieties. These varieties differ from each other by their color, size, taste, as well certain nutritional properties.

Different varieties of apples can be cultivated for distinct purposes. Based on this, apples can be grouped into three types - dessert apples, cooking apples, and cider apples.

Oranges can be seeded or seedless. Seedless oranges are more popular in modern farming.

Some of the most commonly cultivated varieties of apples are Red Delicious and Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Gala, and Fuji.

Valencia, Navel, acidless, and blood oranges are, in turn, some of the most popular cultivars of oranges.

Nutrition

The nutritional values used in this article are for raw oranges of all commercial varieties and raw apples with skin.

Macronutrients and Calories

Oranges and apples are quite similar in their overall macronutrient compositions; however, apples are a little denser in nutrients. Apples are composed of 85.6% water, while oranges contain 86.8% of it.

The average serving sizes of oranges and apples are nearly the same. The serving size of an orange is one fruit, weighing 131g, while one average serving size of an apple is one cup of chopped fruit that weighs 125g.

Calories

Apples and oranges are both low-calorie foods. Apples are only a little higher in calories containing 52 per 100g serving, while the same serving size of oranges contains 47 calories.

Protein and Fats

Overall, both of these fruits are very low in both proteins and fats.

Oranges are richer in proteins than apples, containing higher levels of all essential amino acids.

Apples are a little higher in fats due to a larger content of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Oranges contain more saturated and monounsaturated fats.

Carbohydrates

A 100g serving size of apples contains 2g more of carbohydrates when compared to the same serving size of oranges. However, apples and oranges contain the same amount of dietary fiber.

Apples are higher in sugars and can also contain a small amount of starch. The main sugars found in apples are fructose, glucose, and sucrose.

Vitamins

Oranges are significantly higher in almost all vitamins, including vitamin C, vitamin A and B complex vitamins.

Nevertheless, apples contain vitamin K, which oranges lack entirely.

Apples and oranges contain the same amount of vitamin E. Both are absent in vitamin D and vitamin B12.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Apple
1
:
8
Orange
Contains more Vitamin K +∞%
Contains more Vitamin A +316.7%
Contains more Vitamin C +1056.5%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +411.8%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +53.8%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +209.9%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +309.8%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +46.3%
Contains more Folate +900%
Equal in Vitamin E - 0.18
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 4% 4% 0% 16% 5% 6% 2% 4% 10% 3% 0% 6%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 14% 4% 0% 178% 22% 10% 6% 15% 14% 23% 0% 0%
Contains more Vitamin K +∞%
Contains more Vitamin A +316.7%
Contains more Vitamin C +1056.5%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +411.8%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +53.8%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +209.9%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +309.8%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +46.3%
Contains more Folate +900%
Equal in Vitamin E - 0.18

Minerals

Oranges also win in this category, being higher in calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, zinc, phosphorus, selenium, and choline.

Apples, on the other hand, contain larger amounts of iron and manganese. Apples are also higher in sodium.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Apple
1
:
7
Orange
Contains more Iron +20%
Contains more Calcium +566.7%
Contains more Magnesium +100%
Contains more Phosphorus +27.3%
Contains more Potassium +69.2%
Contains less Sodium -100%
Contains more Zinc +75%
Contains more Copper +66.7%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 2% 5% 4% 5% 10% 1% 2% 9%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 12% 4% 8% 6% 16% 0% 2% 15%
Contains more Iron +20%
Contains more Calcium +566.7%
Contains more Magnesium +100%
Contains more Phosphorus +27.3%
Contains more Potassium +69.2%
Contains less Sodium -100%
Contains more Zinc +75%
Contains more Copper +66.7%

Glycemic Index

According to The International Tables of Glycemic Index Values, the glycemic index of apples, based on the mean of five studies, falls in the range of 36±3 (1).

Naturally, depending on the variety and growing conditions of the fruit, its glycemic index can significantly vary. You can read our in-depth article on Apple glycemic index to get more information about the glycemic values of different varieties of apples.

The glycemic index of oranges, based on the mean of five studies, is equal to 45±5 (1).

As we can see, oranges tend to have a higher glycemic index than apples. However, the glycemic indices of both oranges and apples fall in the low category.

If you would like to compare the glycemic indices of apples and oranges with other foods, you can have a look at our Complete glycemic index chart with over 300 foods.

Acidity

Depending on the variety, the pH value of apples can range from 3.2 to 4 (2). This acidic nature is caused by a compound found in apples called malic acid. The acidity of apples decreases as they mature.

Oranges have a similar acidity, with the pH value falling in the range of 3.0 to 4.2 (2). While oranges also contain malic acid, the changes in the acidity levels in different varieties of the fruit are primarily due to the citric acid content (3).

The potential renal acid load or PRAL is another tool for measuring acidity. The PRAL value demonstrates how much acid or base the breakdown of the food produces.

The PRAL values for apples and oranges are -1.9 and -3.6, respectively. This demonstrates that oranges produce more acids in the organism compared to apples.

Weight Loss & Diets

Apples and oranges, like most fruits, are low in calories and fit well in most weight loss diets. Between the two, oranges are the preferred choice for low-calorie, low-fat, and low-carb diets.

Various studies have demonstrated the weight management benefits of including more fruits in healthy diets. Apples and oranges are no exceptions.

The low energy density and the high fiber of apple content have been studied to make them effective in weight reduction diets (4). Consumption of apples has been proven to be associated with better diet quality and a reduced risk of obesity in children (5).

As for oranges, a flavonoid compound found in these fruits, called nobiletin, has been researched to reduce obesity and prevent metabolic syndrome complications in experimental animals (6).

Together with a reduced-calorie diet, orange juice has also been shown to lead to weight loss and improved obesity-related biomarkers (7).

Health Impact

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, what does an orange a day do? In this section, we will compare how the two fruits affect different aspects of health.

Health Benefits

Cardiovascular Health

Apple and apple product consumption has been demonstrated to have an inverse association with cardiovascular disease and coronary mortality. These cardioprotective effects are said to be mostly due to the dietary antioxidants found in apples (4).

While there are few studies about the association of orange fruits and cardiovascular health, there is enough research about orange juice to conclude what effects the fruit might have.

Orange juice consumption has been researched to improve cardiovascular risk factors by lowering glucose levels, insulin resistance, levels of total cholesterol, and low-density cholesterol (8).

Studies have also found orange juice to have the potential of significantly decreasing systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure (9, 10).

Diabetes

Unsurprisingly, research has shown that adding one serving of apples to a diet has been associated with a significant reduction of the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (11).

While orange consumption can also play a role in the prevention of diabetes, it has not been found to be as significant as apple consumption (12, 13).

Cancer

High fruit consumption has been researched to lead to a decreased risk of several cancers, such as mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, and lung, as well as colon, pancreas, and prostate (14).

The National Cancer Institute advises putting a special emphasis on oranges and dark greens to help prevent cancer (14).

Various studies have also found that daily apple consumption can significantly decrease the risk of oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, larynx, lung, colorectal, breast, ovary, and prostate cancers (4).

Other Benefits

A diet high in fruits, especially apples, can help against diseases such as cataracts, Alzheimer's, and bronchial asthma (12).

Downsides and Risks

Oranges and Medication

Some citrus fruits contain a compound called furanocoumarins that can negatively interact with medications used for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and depression by inhibiting the enzyme that metabolizes those drugs.

Sweet oranges are free of this risk as they do not contain this compound; however, Seville oranges or bitter oranges can produce this unfavorable interaction (15).

Apple Seed Toxicity

Apple seeds are rich in nutrients, such as protein, fiber, and oils. However, they also contain some levels of toxigenic amygdalin. 

Studies have shown that such a low level of amygdalin not only doesn't negatively impact health but also does not inhibit the beneficial effects that apple seeds may possess (16).

References

  1. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/114/5/1625/6320814
  2. pH values of foods and food products
  3. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2472104?seq=1
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22332082/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25971247/
  6. https://www.jlr.org/article/S0022-2275(20)43522-9/fulltext
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28526377/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33350317/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3653258/
  10. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-020-02279-0
  11. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/312644914
  12. https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-3-5
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3978819/
  14. https://progressreport.cancer.gov/prevention/fruit_vegetable
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3589309/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5691708/
Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: March 29, 2021

Infographic

Apple vs Orange infographic
Infographic link

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Apple Orange
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in minerals ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in glycemic index ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Apple Orange Opinion
Net carbs 11.41g 9.35g Apple
Protein 0.26g 0.94g Orange
Fats 0.17g 0.12g Apple
Carbs 13.81g 11.75g Apple
Calories 52kcal 47kcal Apple
Starch 0.05g g Apple
Fructose 5.9g g Apple
Sugar 10.39g 9.35g Orange
Fiber 2.4g 2.4g
Calcium 6mg 40mg Orange
Iron 0.12mg 0.1mg Apple
Magnesium 5mg 10mg Orange
Phosphorus 11mg 14mg Orange
Potassium 107mg 181mg Orange
Sodium 1mg 0mg Orange
Zinc 0.04mg 0.07mg Orange
Copper 0.027mg 0.045mg Orange
Vitamin A 54IU 225IU Orange
Vitamin E 0.18mg 0.18mg
Vitamin D 0IU 0IU
Vitamin D 0µg 0µg
Vitamin C 4.6mg 53.2mg Orange
Vitamin B1 0.017mg 0.087mg Orange
Vitamin B2 0.026mg 0.04mg Orange
Vitamin B3 0.091mg 0.282mg Orange
Vitamin B5 0.061mg 0.25mg Orange
Vitamin B6 0.041mg 0.06mg Orange
Folate 3µg 30µg Orange
Vitamin B12 0µg 0µg
Vitamin K 2.2µg 0µg Apple
Tryptophan 0.001mg 0.009mg Orange
Threonine 0.006mg 0.015mg Orange
Isoleucine 0.006mg 0.025mg Orange
Leucine 0.013mg 0.023mg Orange
Lysine 0.012mg 0.047mg Orange
Methionine 0.001mg 0.02mg Orange
Phenylalanine 0.006mg 0.031mg Orange
Valine 0.012mg 0.04mg Orange
Histidine 0.005mg 0.018mg Orange
Cholesterol 0mg 0mg
Trans Fat 0g 0g
Saturated Fat 0.028g 0.015g Orange
Monounsaturated Fat 0.007g 0.023g Orange
Polyunsaturated fat 0.051g 0.025g Apple

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Apple Orange
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low glycemic index diet ok

People also compare

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
5
Apple
24
Orange
Mineral Summary Score
4
Apple
8
Orange

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
2%
Apple
6%
Orange
Carbohydrates
14%
Apple
12%
Orange
Fats
1%
Apple
1%
Orange

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Orange
Orange is lower in Sugar (difference - 1.04g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Orange
Orange contains less Sodium (difference - 1mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Orange
Orange is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.013g)
Which food is cheaper?
Orange
Orange is cheaper (difference - $0.1)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Orange
Orange is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Orange
Orange is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Apple
Apple is lower in glycemic index (difference - 9)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Apple - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171688/nutrients
  2. Orange - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169097/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.