Happily my kids never asked me to remove the pith when they were younger from their orange, clementines or other citrus fruit. But I know many kids and adults that do. Hopefully after reading this maybe you won’t throw away the pith anymore.
What is the pith?
The pith is the white threads you see on the fruit when you peel off the rind. Some of it will stay on the fruit depending on how you peel the orange.
Benefits of the pith
Packed with Vitamin C - Citrus fruits are known for their high vitamin C content, and the pith packs in the Vitamin C too. By removing the pith you are removing bioavailable vitamin C that your body can use to boost the immune system, use to make collagen, help in iron absorption and aid in wound healing and skin repair.
Fiber Rich - when the pith is removed you are removing the fiber content, in fact if you remove all of the pith you could be removing 30% of the fiber content from the fruit. The pith contains fiber in the form of pectin, which is linked to several emerging health benefits, including lower cholesterol, improved blood sugar control, and improved gut health, because pectin serves as a prebiotic for the probiotics of the gut. A prebiotic is something that feeds the probiotics of the gut (the good bacteria).
Needed antioxidants - Antioxidants are compounds that help combat oxidation (the process that causes iron to rust and cut apples to turn brown), sounds cringe worthy and it is, we don’t want this occurring inside our bodies. The pith contains antioxidants in the form of flavonoids as well as naringenin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and some ability to reduce carbohydrate absorption from the intestinal tract, which has been shown to slow down the insulin response after eating, which can help with things like metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Eating the orange pith - The best way to consume it is along with the fruit. Remove the peel delicately so a large proportion of the pith stays on the fruit. Orange zest is also high in fiber and flavonoids as well as vitamins A, C, B5 and B6, plus calcium, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin and folate. However, the peel of conventionally raised oranges is likely to contain pesticide residues that you can’t wash away, so I would not recommend using the zest often and when you do, check the source.