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Is Orange Juice Good for You: Benefits and Downsides You Should Know

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD November 16, 2022

Did you know that orange juice as we know it did not exist until the early 20th century? Simply put, industrialization led to the overproduction of oranges which led to an incredibly successful campaign called “Drink an Orange”.

Ever since then, orange juice has been promoted as a healthy breakfast drink. Is there any truth to that?

Some claim that all fruit juice is too sugary while others believe it offers a myriad of health benefits. Nevertheless, orange juice holds the spot as the most popular fruit juice in the world. So, what’s the fuss all about?

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Nutrition Information

An 8-ounce glass of orange juice averages around 110 calories and contains:

  • Carbohydrates: 27g
  • Sugars: 20g
  • Protein: 1.99g
  • Fiber: 0.96g
  • Fat: 0g

More than 90% of its calories come from carbohydrates which mostly consist of sugar.

Orange juice is praised for its exceedingly high amount of vitamin C also known as ascorbic acid. One glass is more than enough to reach your daily recommended intake of vitamin C. Orange juice is also a great source of potassium, thiamine, and folate types like folic acid and dihydrofolate (DHF).

The nutritional benefits of orange juice don’t stop there. Some brands load their orange juice with added calcium and vitamin D. Such variations can provide essential nutrients for those with deficiencies.

It’s important to remember that store-bought orange juice can be drastically different from freshly squeezed juice. Research suggests that fresh juice contains more nutrients.

When choosing your beverage, make sure to check whether it contains added sugars as its counterintuitive to the several health benefits of orange juice.

6 Benefits of Drinking Orange Juice

If you’re wondering ‘Is orange juice healthy?’, wonder no longer. The list below will explain the main health benefits that this fruit juice brings.

1. Rich in vitamin C and antioxidants

Orange juice is a nutrient dense beverage rich in vitamin C. The latter is responsible for a healthy immune system as well as skin and bone health.

Vitamin C plays a key role in collagen production. Collagen is a major component that makes up skin, bones, muscles, and blood vessels. It also has anti-aging properties.

Orange juice is rich in antioxidants. The most common antioxidants found in orange juice are flavonoids, carotenoids, and, of course, vitamin C.

Flavonoids serve as free radical scavengers. To put it simply, they protect your body from destructive molecules that have been linked to diseases such as cataract, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer. Free radical damage to your cells can also increase the risk of heart disease.

Some studies show that you can increase your flavonoids by drinking orange juice.

Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants generally found in yellow/orange vegetables and fruits. They may promote eye health and maintain proper immune function.

Research suggests that carotenoids may prevent certain types of cancer.

It’s important to remember that vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin meaning it’s not stored in your body. Moreover, humans don’t produce it, making it crucial to consume vitamin C through a healthy diet which could include a daily glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.

2. Helps prevent kidney stones

Orange juice contains potassium citrate which is associated with a reduced risk of kidney stones. Research has shown that the consumption of orange juice increases the levels of citrate in urine.

High levels of potassium citrate may prevent the formation of kidney stones whereas low levels put you at risk.

You can get potassium citrate by consuming citrus fruits (and juice) or taking supplements.

It’s important to keep in mind that drinking orange juice won’t be beneficial for kidney stone prevention if the cause is something other than low citrate levels. Additionally, overconsumption of orange juice, or more specifically, vitamin C, may increase the risk of kidney stones in individuals with a history of kidney disease.

In the past, it was believed that calcium is the cause of kidney stones. Interestingly, research suggests that calcium does the exact opposite. Calcium-fortified orange juice may make the risk of kidney stones even lower.

3. May reduce inflammation

Inflammation is often associated with oxidative stress, an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants which results in damage to cells. Moreover, oxidative stress may contribute to the formation of chronic inflammation and other chronic diseases like different types of arthritis, heart disease, and cancer.

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals helping you prevent oxidative stress. While the human body produces certain antioxidants on its own, some antioxidants must come from healthy eating. This includes vitamin C, flavonoids, and carotenoids.

As discussed previously, orange juice is rich in antioxidants which can help you reduce short-term inflammation. Most importantly, orange juice consumption may help you avoid oxidative stress.

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4. May lower blood pressure

Citrus fruits and its fruit juices are a great source of potassium which has been shown to regulate both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. To put it simply, it can control high blood pressure by relaxing your blood vessel walls.

Blood pressure is the force that pushes blood through your veins. High blood pressure, on the other hand, manifests when the force of the blood flow is too strong, making it push up against your arteries and veins. This puts strain on your heart by making it pump blood at a faster rate. An adequate amount of potassium may relieve this tension.

There is no official recommended daily intake of potassium, however, the Adequate Intake (AI) for women is around 2,320mg while for men it’s around 3,016mg of potassium every day.

One cup of orange juice contains around 500mg of potassium which makes up around 20% of AI. Orange juice alone won’t cure you, however, it makes a great addition to a healthy diet.

5. May balance cholesterol levels

Research suggests that orange juice plays a role in keeping your cholesterol levels low. For instance, a study investigating the effects of orange juice consumption found that individuals who consume orange juice daily have lower cholesterol than those who don’t drink orange juice at all.

The abundance of vitamin C in orange juice may be instrumental in regulating cholesterol for those who have already been diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia, a condition defined by high cholesterol levels. One study found that taking 500mgs of vitamin C for at least 4 weeks significantly reduced cholesterol for individuals with hypercholesterolemia.

Flavonoids, antioxidants found in orange juice, may also help in lowering cholesterol. You may opt for the concentrated form of orange juice for greater amounts of flavonoids.

6. May prevent anemia

Iron deficiency anemia is defined by a lack of iron in your body which, in turn, reduces the production of red blood cells. This type of anemia can increase the risk of restless leg syndrome and may even negatively affect your heart health.

It’s generally treated with an iron-rich diet and supplement tablets.

Drinking orange juice with your meals can increase iron absorption. Vitamin C, one of the main nutrients in orange juice, is necessary for your body to be able to absorb iron.

In fact, some doctors recommend taking iron supplements with orange juice or any type of drink dense in this essential nutrient.

Moreover, it’s important to note that vitamin C deficiency, also known as scurvy, may cause anemia. A glass of this juice will provide you with more than a daily dose of vitamin C.

How Much Orange Juice Is Good for You?

It’s clear that orange juice has the potential to improve your overall health, but is there such a thing as too much orange juice? To put it simply, yes. While a healthy amount of orange juice can contribute to a healthy lifestyle, overconsumption can do the opposite.

So, how much orange juice should you drink?

It’s recommended to stay within the range of a glass (8-ounce) of orange juice per day at most.

When it comes to children, pediatricians recommend a maximum orange juice intake of:

  • 4 ounces for toddlers (ages 1 to 3);
  • 6 ounces for preschoolers (ages 4 to 6);
  • 8 ounces for older children and adolescents (ages between 7 to 18).

Potential Downsides of Orange Juice

So, what will happen if you drink too much orange juice? If it’s a one-time thing, then you probably won’t notice any changes. However, drinking too much orange juice on a regular basis may negatively affect:

  • Blood sugar regulation. The majority of carbohydrates in orange juice comes from sugar. It’s one of the main reasons why daily consumption of orange juice can increase blood sugar levels. This is especially true for store-bought orange juice that has added sugars.
  • Weight. As you probably noticed in the orange juice nutrition section, this beverage contains lots of calories and sugar. Both of these factors may contribute to weight gain.
  • Vitamin C levels. An orange juice glass contains more vitamin C than the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA).
  • Oral health. It’s probably not surprising that high amounts of sugar aren’t good for your teeth as sugar increases the risk of dental caries. Additionally, citrus juices tend to be high in acidity which has been shown to lead to tooth erosion.

Regular consumption of orange juice shouldn’t pose any problems as long as you don’t exceed the RDA.

Can You Drink Orange Juice on an Intermittent Fasting Diet?

Orange juice contains high amounts of sugar which will most definitely break your fast. In addition to breaking your fast, excessive consumption of sugar may result in blood sugar spikes.

Although you can’t drink orange juice while fasting, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a glass during your eating window.

You can log your orange juice consumption on the DoFasting app to make sure you don’t go over the recommended calorie count for the day.

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Conclusion

Aside from being absolutely delicious, orange juice is packed with essential nutrients and antioxidants that will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Incorporating it into your diet may provide you with several health benefits like a strong immune system, lower cholesterol levels, and reduced risk of kidney stones.

The best way to reap these health benefits is to stick to a glass of 100% orange juice per day to avoid added sugar.

Author

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD
  • Head of Medical Affairs at Kilo Health
  • Medical Doctor at Vilnius University, Lithuania
  • Partnering with the EU-funded Young50 and EUPAP projects

Kasparas Aleknavicius is a medical doctor that graduated from Vilnius University, working as head of medical affairs at Kilo Health. After nearly 5 years in the industry, Kasparas focuses on digital health and is looking for innovative ways to help people lead healthy lifestyles through digital health and wellness platforms.

You can find Kasparas on LinkedIn and follow his latest research on Medium.

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