Do you love orange juice as much as I do? Orange juice is the most popular fruit juice in America and probably in other countries where oranges grow in abundance. I can’t even imagine myself not ever seeing a brand of orange juice in any supermarket I go to. A breakfast staple, orange juice benefits have been highly documented over the last couple of decades.
During that time, we’ve also become more skeptical about the things we put into our bodies. There’s always more to our grocery bag than the clever advertising campaigns reveal. Most of us want to know exactly what we’re consuming – the benefits and the risks associated with the food we eat.
I was curious to find out more about the health benefits of orange juice. Should we drink it freely or in moderation? I discovered some very interesting facts that I’m happy to share. I even found studies that back the orange juice marketing claims, which was a pleasant surprise. Read on to find out more.
Facts About Orange (Not the color!)
Let’s look at some facts about the humble orange. Most oranges are grown in Brazil or the U.S. states of Florida and Texas. In 2013, 71.4 million metric tons of oranges were grown worldwide – crazy, huh? Orange trees are thought to be the most frequently cultivated variety of tree on the planet.
There are literally hundreds of varieties of orange. Navel oranges, sweet oranges, blood oranges and tangerines are some examples. Blood oranges are a mutation of sweet oranges. They are very popular in Mediterranean countries and are good for juicing.
Making Orange Juice
Many of the most common varieties of orange are used in the production of orange juice. Valencia, Hart’s Tardiff Valencia, and the Hamlin orange are presently the most popular, though as new variations are developed that is sure to change.
The above varieties of orange are good for juicing due to their sweetness and a physical makeup that is ideal for juicing. They have thinner skins and a higher liquid content. The acid content in these varieties has been carefully balanced through cultivation practices to provide a juice that doesn’t spoil as quickly.
Fresh Squeezed is Best
While commercially produced orange juice still retains plenty of health benefits, fresh squeezed orange juice provides the body more with a higher concentration of vitamins and phytonutrients (plant chemicals). Unfortunately these nutrients tend to degrade during processing, as is true for most foods. Frozen and concentrated orange juices sold in the grocery store do their best to replace the vitamins lost in processing. Some even add extra vitamins not normally found in orange juice. However, the loss of phytonutrients during commercial processing means some of the antioxidant power is lost.
Whether you’re into juicing or simply squeezing orange juice, the fewer preparations it takes to fill up your glass the better.
What Can Orange Juice Do for You?
Perhaps you’re not sure if orange juice is a health food or just another sugary beverage hiding under the “natural” label. It’s a fair query. The media often attacks orange juice’s character – mostly in relation to commercial orange juice production practices.
The truth is, fresh squeezed orange juice can help contribute to your good health – when consumed in moderation. It contains plenty of nutrients to promote a healthy body.
10 Health Benefits of Orange Juice
1. Orange Juice Boosts the Immune System
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but what about oranges? Vitamin C has long been touted as a powerhouse when it comes to supporting your immune system. Luckily, orange juice contains this particular nutrient in spades.
Vitamin C nourishes your white blood cells to help them fight infection more effectively. A balanced diet full of fresh fruit and veg in general – not just oranges – will help your immune system function at its peak.
There’s also some evidence that high doses of vitamin C can help kill viruses – I’m talking about the common cold and flu. It’s not a complete cure, but symptoms decreased by 85% in one study.
Orange juice and vitamin C supplements are often recommended at the first sign of sickness. However, the excess sugar in this sweet beverage may not be the best idea when you’re getting sick. Drink orange juice to support your immune system on a regular basis rather than at the onset of illness.
2. Orange Juice For A Younger Version Of Yourself
Once again, vitamin C plays a big role in orange juice’s ability to combat the signs of aging. I must be straight with you – orange juice isn’t the fountain of youth, but in conjunction with a healthy diet, the vitamins and antioxidants in orange juice may slow aging.
The vitamin C in orange juice helps eliminate free radicals in the body, which can cause aging when they build up. Free radicals are potentially responsible for far more sinister conditions than wrinkles, as well.
Vitamin C is also crucial in collagen production. Collagen is what keeps your skin smooth and supple. Depleted collagen leads to skin and joint aging.
Check out this video for more detail:
3. Orange Juice is Anti-Cancer
Those pesky free radicals we talked about earlier are thought to play a role in the production and development of cancer cells. Vitamin C, and many of the other antioxidants present in orange juice, may help to eliminate environmental free radicals from the body.
A reduction in the risk of childhood leukemia, and breast, liver, and colon cancer in adults has been associated with orange juice consumption. The quality of the orange juice was a big factor in a review entitled “Orange Juice and Cancer Chemoprevention”. The composition of the juices used varied a great deal in response to many environmental factors.
4. Orange Juice Boosts Cell and Tissue Repair
Remember the collagen that we touched on earlier while talking about the anti-aging properties of OJ? Not only does healthy collagen production help us age well, it is also responsible for many cellular repairs that take place in our bodies.
Collagen is a crucial part of the healing process, whether we’re talking about an open wound or a pulled ligament. It provides structure and a modicum of flexibility to your skin, bones, teeth, connective tissues, and cartilage. Orange juice phytonutrients can aid in healthy collagen development.
5. Orange Juice Improves Metabolic Functions
Vitamin C is at it again. Playing an integral role in the metabolism of proteins, increasing your vitamin C intake by drinking orange juice can aid your body in the metabolic processes. Studies show that an increased intake of vitamin C can increase fat burned during exercise by 30%.
6. Orange Juice is Pro-Kidney
The antioxidants in orange juice help to remove harmful substances from the body. The vitamin A and vitamin C found in orange juice aids the kidneys, increasing their detoxifying abilities.
Your kidneys do a lot for your body. They remove harmful substances and drugs from your system, balance fluid levels, regulate the production of red blood cells, help regulate blood pressure, and produce an active form of vitamin D, which is also an important nutrient for healthy living.
7. Orange Juice Boosts Vasodilation
Orange juice contains folate, which helps stimulate the production of red blood cells. It also helps blood circulate through the body, flowing to the extremities.
The improved circulation that comes with the consumption of folate increases the body’s overall function. When your body systems are well-oxygenated, they are able to perform their duties more effectively. Every part of your body depends on oxygenation that comes with good circulation.
8. Orange Juice For Hypertension
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in January of 2011 showed that drinking orange juice had a clinically significant impact on hypertension (high blood pressure). The folate, vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants found in orange juice have all shown to be potentially effective in this.
The risk of heart disease is significantly higher in people with hypertension. High blood pressure can contribute to artery damage, aneurysm, coronary artery disease, heart failure, heart attack, stroke, and kidney damage or failure. Using diet to lower high blood pressure can save you from serious consequences.
9. Orange Juice Treats Inflammation
The antioxidants present in orange juice have been proven to reduce or counteract inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a natural immune system process, but excessive inflammation can cause damage to tissues and organs.
It is thought that chronic inflammation may lead to many other serious health conditions like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. It can also cause pain and swelling that results in decreased joint mobility. Though inflammation can be a healing process, it must be kept in balance to promote overall health.
10. Orange Juice is Heart Healthy
Studies found orange juice with added plant sterols lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. In this case, concentrated orange juice performed better at lowering bad cholesterol levels due to the increased levels of flavonoids.
High levels of cholesterol in the blood can contribute to heart disease. When this substance builds up in the blood, it may begin to accumulate on your artery walls. This causes blood flow to be restricted, which reduces oxygenation. If arteries become completely blocked, a heart attack can occur.
What’s Inside Orange Juice Anyway?
Most all of the phytonutrients present in orange juice are remarkably helpful for keeping your body functioning at peak health. We’ve already discussed some of these plant chemicals above, but let’s look into them in a bit more detail and delve into some others not mentioned.
This is funny but everyone knows orange contains a lot of vitamin C but it’s not exactly an abundant source of it. No, that title belongs to other fruits you might not expect vitamin C to come from.
Regardless of where you get it, vitamin C has always been considered an important vitamin but why? Vitamin C plays a role in most bodily functions. It contributes to our ability to heal from injury and illness, helps our bodies absorb iron, and eliminates free radicals as our primary antioxidant.
Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, which means our body cannot store it away for later use. Our bodies also cannot create their own vitamin C, so we must take it in through food or supplements.
It’s also great how vitamin C is one of the most shelf-stable vitamins on the planet. It’s one of those vitamins that can take a beating and still give you your body’s daily vitamin C requirements.
Hesperidin is a bioflavonoid found mostly in citrus fruits and juices. It is one of the compounds in orange juice that helps improve circulation and lower blood pressure. It is also thought to have a positive effect in treating diabetes.
Vitamin A is an important part of the production and maintenance of many body tissues. It is helpful in maintaining and improving eye function, particularly in low light conditions. Vitamin A also possesses antioxidant properties that help fight free radicals.
Folate, also known as vitamin B9 or folic acid, is a water soluble vitamin like vitamin C. Consuming adequate levels of folate has been found to reduce incidences of cell mutation, which is why it is highly recommended for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive.
Orange juice provides the body with water. In fact, the fruit is made up of 87% water. Consuming an adequate amount of liquids can help fend off dehydration. Dehydration can lead to many health issues, so taking in plenty of liquids and eating foods with high water content is very important.
Can Orange Juice Be Bad For You?
Too much of a good thing can definitely apply when we’re talking about orange juice. Unfortunately it’s high in citric acid, which can be bad for teeth and cause upset stomach. Orange juice also has a high sugar content and a high glycemic load, which can cause diabetes. Juice also lacks the fiber present in the whole fruit, meaning that for digestive purposes, you’re better off eating a whole orange.
Despite the “side effects” of eating oranges, a fruit is a fruit and fruits are naturally healthy for us and these side effects aren’t usually an issue unless your doctor tells you.
In moderation, orange juice can be great for your body. The pros definitely outweigh the cons when you consider the potential health benefits. Orange juice benefits many different parts of the body and contains powerful antioxidants and vitamins that are vital to the proper function of various body systems and your body’s self-maintenance.
So tell me, do you prefer fresh squeezed or commercially available orange juice?
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