What Is Orange Pith And Is It Healthy To Eat?

Some parts of fruits are readily discarded — the green tops of strawberries, the strings between bananas and the peel, and the pith that separates the sweet and juicy flesh of an orange from the outer rind. While these parts of the fruits are perfectly safe to eat, you might not be in the habit of doing so or even know why you should. But it's all about rethinking: not only the pith, but committing to doing less work before indulging in an orange.

While you might have a mental image of trying to peel every last bit of pith off your orange from your childhood on, that slightly denser, white fleshy barrier between the orange slices and the peel does serve a purpose. Taylor Fazio, a wellness adviser, told Reader's Digest that the orange pith is similar to "the connective tissue of an orange," which means it essentially holds the fruit and its protective peel together.

Orange pith is nutrient-rich

Despite its bad reputation for being bitter, the orange pith doesn't have a strong flavor and can actually provide those who eat it with great nutrients. Per WebMD, orange pith packs tons of fiber, flavonoids, vitamin C, and calcium. Though you likely already know that vitamin C is great for your immune system and calcium is good for your bones, you might wonder just what fiber and flavonoids can do for your health. Fiber is, of course, known for keeping your digestive system in check, but it is also great for lowering cholesterol, too. 

As for flavonoids, orange pith includes hesperidin, according to Andrew Weil, MD. This flavonoid in particular helps the function of blood vessels and can even work to calm inflammation. Dr. Weil also names naringenin as another flavonoid common to orange pith. It, too, has anti-inflammatory properties, includes antioxidants, and can also help keep your blood sugar at steady levels. Of course all these things make for a happier, healthier body both in the short- and long-term.

While you can incorporate more orange pith into your citrus snack by simply leaving more of it on the fruit after peeling it, WebMD also suggests tossing it into a smoothie so you don't even have to know you're eating it. You might even consider adding it to your juicer if you love making homemade orange juice. It could also be easily disguised in a salad. So, don't waste the pith; put it to good use.