The cara cara orange is believed to be a cross between two navel oranges, the Washington or California navel orange, and the Brazilian Bahia. It resembles an orange but is larger with a pink to red flesh that tastes sweeter than an orange.
Named for the Cara Cara Hacienda in Valencia, Venezuela in 1976 where it was first discovered, the cara cara may be the result of an accident of nature or deliberate cross breeding. But in either case, the Washington navel orange appears to be its original progenitor. The cara cara orange is believed to have been introduced to the US market in the 80s and is readily available in supermarkets throughout the US as well as around the world.
Cara caras are available during the winter season, particularly December to February in the US, and they are grown wherever oranges grow naturally. They’re considered the tastiest orange for fresh juice or smoothies.
- Cara Cara Pineapple Green Delight:
- 2 cara caras (without the peel - it's very nutritious but bitter!)
- 1 cup pineapple
- 2 leaves of your favorite leafy green or a thumb of wheatgrass
- Pinch of turmeric
- "Orange Julius" Replica:
- For the famous and delicious "Orange Julius" smoothie add almond milk, vanilla extract, and honey to 3 peeled Cara Caras!
Steps to Make It
Gather the ingredients.
Mix all ingredients together in a mixer. You don't need to add the greens or spice but we do for an extra nutritional and disease-fighting punch!
Laboratory studies published in 2013 show that the anthocyanins in cara cara oranges provide a particularly high antioxidant benefit. Another study published in 2016 showed that anthocyanins greatly reduced the development of esophageal cancer. Lycopene is particularly abundant in cara caras and has been shown in a 2016 study to reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Amazing Nutritional Benefits
The seedless cara cara is an especially nutritional orange, containing a wide range of healthful benefits from vitamins and minerals to bioflavonoids, antioxidants, and the carotenoids.
This unusually sweet orange is exceptionally high in vitamins C and A, and exceedingly low in calories - one fruit contains as little as 70 calories. The cara cara is also high in fiber and energy-producing carbohydrates, as well as protein and calcium. They are free of sodium, fats, and cholesterol, and they're a good resource for folate.
Also referred to as the ‘blood orange’ due to the unusual pink to red color of their meat, the cara cara is an especially rich source of anthocyanins which reduce the risk of cancer and may even slow the aging process.
Cara caras are also low in acid, which lends their taste to being particularly sweet and especially tasty in juices and cocktails.
Racchi ML. Antioxidant Defenses in Plants with Attention to Prunus and Citrus spp. Antioxidants (Basel). 2013;2(4):340-69. doi:10.3390/antiox2040340
Cui L, Liu X, Tian Y, et al. Flavonoids, Flavonoid Subclasses, and Esophageal Cancer Risk: A Meta-Analysis of Epidemiologic Studies. Nutrients. 2016;8(6). doi:10.3390/nu8060350
Shanbhag VK. Lycopene in cancer therapy. J Pharm Bioallied Sci. 2016;8(2):170-1. doi:10.4103/0975-7406.171740
Pérez-Sánchez A, Barrajón-Catalán E, Herranz-López M, Micol V. Nutraceuticals for Skin Care: A Comprehensive Review of Human Clinical Studies. Nutrients. 2018;10(4). doi:10.3390/nu10040403