Apple vs. Orange — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison
Both apples and oranges are great choices for low-calorie, low-fat, and low-carb diets as they have similar macronutrient composition.
However, oranges have higher levels of most vitamins and minerals compared to apples. They contain 12 times more vitamin C, as well as more copper, calcium, and potassium.
Both apples and oranges have been shown to have a positive impact on reducing the risk of diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular illnesses.
Table of contents
- Weight Loss & Diets
- Health Impact
- Health Benefits
- Downsides and Risks
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.
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.
Apples and oranges have their apparent spherical shapes in common.
Most apples are seeded, while the type of oranges we usually consume are not. Depending on the variety, apples come in various colors, such as red, yellow, green, pink, or multicolored.
The size of oranges and apples can vary considerably.
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.
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 a 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.
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.
The nutritional values used in this article are for raw oranges of all commercial varieties and raw apples with skin.
Macronutrients and Calories
The average serving sizes of oranges and apples are nearly the same.
The serving size of an orange is usually one fruit, weighing 131g, while one average serving size of an apple is a cup of chopped fruit that weighs 125g or a whole fruit weighing 101-223 grams, depending on the size.
Oranges and apples are quite similar in their overall macronutrient compositions. Just like most fruits, both apples and oranges are mostly composed of water. Apples are composed of 85.6% water, while oranges contain 86.8% of it.
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.
Overall, both of these fruits are very low in protein. Per 100-gram serving of apples, there are 0.26 grams of protein, while the same serving of oranges provides 0.94 grams.
Hence, even though the protein levels are generally low, oranges contain slightly more of it than apples; they also contain higher levels of all essential amino acids.
Both apples and oranges are also low in fats; however, apples are a little higher in fats due to a larger content of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Oranges contain more saturated and monounsaturated fats.
Fat Type Comparison
A 100g serving size of apples contains 2g more carbohydrates than 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.
Oranges are significantly higher in almost all vitamins, especially vitamin C. They contain 12 times more vitamin C than apples.
While both apples and oranges offer a variety of vitamins, it is the high concentration of vitamin C in oranges that sets them apart, especially when we consider our daily vitamin requirements.
With a concentration of 69.7mg of vitamin C per orange (131 grams), it provides a significant amount that almost meets the recommended daily intake. The recommended daily intake of vitamin C typically ranges between 75-90mg, which means that consuming just one orange may be sufficient to fulfill this requirement.
Both apples and oranges are absent in vitamin D and vitamin B12.
While a single serving of apples or oranges may not provide enough quantity to meet our daily mineral requirements, they still contribute small amounts of various minerals.
Overall, oranges contain more minerals, especially copper, calcium, and potassium, when compared to apples.
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.
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 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. They are both great choices 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).
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.
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 between 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 to significantly decrease systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure (9, 10).
Unsurprisingly, research has shown that adding one serving of apples to a diet has been associated with a significant reduction in 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).
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 the oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, larynx, lung, colorectal, breast, ovary, and prostate cancers (4).
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).
- pH values of foods and food products
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in price|
|Rich in minerals|
|Rich in vitamins|
|Lower in Glycemic Index|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
|Vitamin A RAE||3µg||11µg|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Glycemic Index diet|
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Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.
- Apple - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171688/nutrients
- 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.