If You See White Stuff on Your Oranges, This Is What It Is

Updated: Dec. 07, 2023

Keep this information in mind next time you see (and try to peel off) that white spongey stuff on your oranges.

If you eat oranges, you know exactly what we’re talking about. When you peel an orange, there’s this white spongey substance all over it. You may try to peel it off before you eat the orange, but let’s be real, you can’t get it all off. Turns out, this stuff has a name: orange pith.

Like the white stuff on baby carrotswhite stuff on salmon, and stringy stuff in eggs, this substance is on oranges for a reason. Read on to learn what exactly it is and if you should be eating it.

What is Orange Pith?

Orange pith is that white spongey substance you see when peeling an orange. “Think of orange pith as the connective tissue of an orange,” says Taylor Fazio, Wellness Advisor at The Lanby. “It is a little more bitter and has a denser texture.”

Can I Eat Orange Pith?

While you may not be eager to eat the stringy and spongey part of an orange, it is totally safe to eat. Livvy Ashton, an RN and senior editor at CFAH.org, says any suggestion that it’s bad for you is just an old wives’ tale. “Oranges are rich in vitamin C (including the pith), which contains around the same amount of this vital immune-boosting vitamin as the fruit itself,” Ashton explains. “So by eating both, you’re actually upping your intake.” Something else that’s safe to eat: the red stuff on lettuce.

Fazio also says orange pith is rich in fiber, something many people need more of in their diet. “The guidelines recommend at least 25 grams of fiber daily, an amount most Americans are not consuming. Any additional fiber intake from natural, whole food sources is a great way to increase daily fiber intake.”

Next time you snack on an orange and eat a bit of the pith, don’t worry; this natural part of the fruit is edible and good for you. Next, read about these unique orange peel uses that are way more useful than you think.


  • Taylor Fazio, MS, RD, CDN, Wellness Advisor at The Lanby
  • Livvy Ashton, an RN and senior editor at CFAH.org

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest