Is Orange Juice Actually Good For You?

Does this magical fruit juice hold the immunity powers to keep you healthy this winter?

I get asked about orange juice a lot. Is it good for you? Should you include it in a healthful diet routine? What about all the sugar content? Is OJ a tool to boost immunity and keep you healthy?

All great questions. Honestly, my gut says skip it, but the science actually gave me a mixed bag. So I dug in and here’s what I found.

A Little Ditty About Vitamin C
The Daily Value for Vitamin C is 75mg for women and 90mg for men. Vitamin C is important for collagen synthesis and helps keep our immune systems healthy, fights free radicals in the body and boosts iron absorption for vegetarians and vegans.

The Good
Orange juice contains a bunch of good-for-you nutrients: Vitamin C, folate, potassium and more. It’s a good source of antioxidants—flavonoids, carotenoids and asorbic acid (yay for color).

Research shows that orange juice may help increase levels of “good” HDL cholesterol and decrease total and “bad” LDL cholesterol, as well as diastolic blood pressure.

Research says that at moderate intakes (75-224 mL daily), does not increase the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease or poor glycemic control. In contrast, regular consumption of appears to confer a health benefit in terms of vascular function and reduced blood pressure.

Twenty-two studies on weight status provided evidence that did not support an association between 100% fruit juice consumption and weight/adiposity-obesity in children after controlling for energy intake.

Limited evidence from eight studies suggests that children consuming 100% fruit juice have higher intake and adequacy of dietary fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium, evidence suggests that consumption of 100% fruit juice may provide beneficial nutrients without contributing to childhood obesity.

The Bad
OJ contains a lot of sugar. A single 12-ounce glass contains an incredible 9 teaspoons of sugar, which is a ton.

Juiced oranges have lost beneficial fiber and is consequently less filling.

Sugars (including sugars in OJ) hit your cells FIRST, fill the same cell receptors that take up vitamin C. Let me say that again….Sugar blocks uptake of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)—so the sugar blocks your body getting the big antioxidant from the orange juice. This happens more readily from the juice than eating the orange, because the fiber from the actual orange slows down the release of sugar and doesn’t flood the receptors as quickly as they do with fiberless orange juice.

Studies have proven that excessive amounts of sugar, or glucose, in the body can inhibit the absorption of Vitamin C. In the 1970s, researchers established that sugar and Vitamin C have a similar structure and enter cells using the same pathway, the GLUT receptors.

The Verdict
Eating an orange is always going to win over drinking orange juice (cuties count)!

Fresh-squeezed orange juice is better than any store-bought orange juice with added sugar and other ingredients.

Orange juice has powerful vitamins and antioxidants. If you are drinking it daily, quantity matters. I would suggest less is more. A juice glass is about 4 ounces of liquid. That’s about what I would recommend for freshly squeezed orange juice or OJ that doesn’t have any added ingredients or sugar.

Include oranges WITH other vitamin C-rich foods into your daily routine to make you healthy and immune strong.

Foods Rich in Vitamin C
The orange vs. other whole foods: One medium-sized orange provides 70mg of Vitamin C.

  • Bell peppers: A medium-sized red bell pepper has 152mg, a medium-sized green bell pepper has 96mg and a medium-sized yellow bell pepper has 218mg.
  • Kiwi: Two kiwis provides 137mg of Vitamin C.
  • Kale: One cup of chopped raw kale provides 80mg of Vitamin C. One cup of cooked kale provides 53mg Vitamin C.
  • Broccoli: One cup of chopped broccoli has 81mg of Vitamin C.
  • Brussels: One-half cup of cooked Brussels sprouts provides 49mg Vitamin C
  • Lemon: One raw lemon, including its peel, provides 83mg of Vitamin C.
  • Strawberries: One cup of strawberry halves (152 grams) provides 89mg of Vitamin C.

For more info on making smarter family food choices, contact our holistic nutritionists and learn more about our Family Nutrition Makeover Program. It’s a personal puzzle, but we can assist in figuring out what’s best for you and your favorite people.

Book a free 20-minute consultation with Healthy Nest Nutrition owner Robin Hutchinson to see if our programs are right for you.

Sources: Am J Nephrol. Sep-Oct 2005;25(5):459-65. doi: 10.1159/000087853. Epub 2005 Aug 24. Hyperglycemia inhibits the uptake of dehydroascorbate in tubular epithelial cell

Ling Chen 1, Ru-han Jia, Chang-jian Qiu, Guohua Ding.

Nutr Diabetes. 2018; 8: 19.Published online 2018 Apr 25. doi: 10.1038/s41387-018-0031-3PMCID: PMC5916905 PMID: 29695707 High orange juice consumption with or in-between three meals a day differently affects energy balance in healthy subjects. Franziska A Hägele,1,2 Franziska Büsing,1,2 Alessa Nas,1 Julian Aschoff,3 Lena Gnädinger,1 Ralf Schweiggert,3 Reinhold Carle,3,4 and Anja Bosy-Westphal corresponding author1,2.

Orange juice consumption and its effect on blood lipid profile and indices of the metabolic syndrome; a randomised, controlled trial in an at-risk population

E J Simpson 1, B Mendis 2, I A Macdonald 1Affiliations expand PMID: 26965492 DOI: 10.1039/c6fo00039h.

Nutrients. 2021 May 27;13(6):1815. doi: 10.3390/nu13061815. Fruit Juices: Are They Helpful or Harmful? An Evidence Review. Carrie H S Ruxton 1, Madeleine Myers 2.

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr.. 2016;56(5):871-84. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2015.1061475.

Impact of 100% Fruit Juice Consumption on Diet and Weight Status of Children: An Evidence-based Review. Kristi Crowe-White 1, Carol E O’Neil 2, J Scott Parrott 3, Sue Benson-Davies 4, Elizabeth Droke 4, Melissa Gutschall 5, Kim S Stote 6, Taylor Wolfram 7, Paula Ziegler 7. 

Pediatrics. 2017 Apr;139(4):e20162454. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-2454. Epub 2017 Mar 23.

Fruit Juice and Change in BMI: A Meta-analysis. Brandon J Auerbach 1 2, Fred M Wolf 2 3 4, Abigail Hikida 4 5 6, Petra Vallila-Buchman 7, Alyson Littman 2 5 6, Douglas Thompson 8, Diana Louden 9, Daniel R Taber 7, James Krieger 10 4 7.

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