In Defense of Orange Juice: A Classic Beverage getting a Bad Rap
by Ben McLean III
Why should we consume 100% orange juice? The answer is simple: It contains many health benefits! 100% orange juice which contains no added sugar, has been thoroughly researched and proven over several decades to be an important, healthy dietary choice. And, when consumed in moderation, there are simply no negative side effects.
Orange juice is a nutrient dense, vitamin-laden drink you can feel good about serving to your entire family. Regular consumption of 100% orange juice is an important choice for overall health. Numerous research studies have demonstrated OJ’s benefits to heart, brain and bone health, while also proving that no problems of weight gain, diabetes, high blood sugar or high blood pressure occur with normal consumption.
Numerous scientific studies have shown strong evidence of OJ’s overall health benefits:
- 100% orange juice is a source of important vitamins essential for optimal health, including Vitamin C, essential for immunity, and B Vitamins essential for healthy metabolism and Energy; an 8 oz glass of orange juice provides 120% of the recommended Daily Value of vitamin C.
- 100% orange juice is a source of important mineral nutrients such as Potassium, important for blood pressure and circulation; 100% orange juice provides 10% of the Daily Value of potassium in one 8-ounce serving.
- 100% orange juice is a source of secondary “bioactive” phytonutrients, that provide important antioxidant benefits to assist metabolism and immunity; these phytonutrients include carotenoids, flavanones and hespiridin.
- 100% orange juice assists in the uptake of other key nutrients in the diet, as the natural ratio of sugars in orange juice enhances the body’s absorption of Iron, Calcium and other important minerals when these nutrients are consumed with orange juice.
- 100% orange juice is protective against coronary heart disease and stroke.
- 100% orange juice consumption reduces high blood pressure.
- 100% orange juice consumption improves overall blood cholesterol levels, by increasing HDL cholesterol and lowering LDL cholesterol.
- 100% orange juice has been shown to reduce many key markers of inflammation in the body.
- Orange juice provides these important health benefits yet has no harmful effect on obesity, body mass index, diabetes incidence, or insulin resistance.
Delving deeper, Vitamin C is necessary to maintain a strong immune system, and orange juice is plentiful in Vitamin C. Vitamin C protects cells from damage via its antioxidant properties and further promotes the production and function of our immune cells. Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the harmful adhesion ––or stickiness––of white blood cells to our vascular tissue, and to improve beneficial vasodilation, nitric oxide production, and improve vascular muscle cell health- all factors which support cardiovascular health.
Vitamin C performs its antioxidant function by scavenging Reactive Oxidative Species (ROS), free radicals that form during metabolism, and works with other powerful vitamins and antioxidant enzymes that stimulate the production and function of white blood cells which protects cells against free radicals, and, ROS that are generated as a result of infection, inflammation, and stress. Histamine is released by our cells in response to allergic and inflammatory reactions, and is involved in the common symptoms of coughing, stuffy and runny nose, and teary eyes. Vitamin C is known to have an anti-histamine effect that lessens the severity of cold symptoms.
Folate and Vitamin B6 regulate homocysteine, an amino acid believed to cause damage to arteries when elevated, and some studies show folate and vitamin B6 may boost heart health by lowering homocysteine levels in the blood. A single 8-ounce glass of 100% orange juice contains 15% of the daily value of Folate and 8% of the Daily Value of Vitamin B6.
Potassium, essential for regulating blood pressure and circulation, is the major electrolyte within our cells which helps to balance fluid in the body. This balance is achieved in relationship with sodium, which is the major electrolyte outside of the cells, and in the blood. Diets containing foods that are a good source of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke, and health experts agree that most people consume too much sodium and do not consume enough potassium. Orange juice is a source of potassium, as one 8-ounce glass provides 10% of the recommended daily value–– approximately the same amount in a banana!
Iron is necessary for proper blood health and function, and a deficiency of iron causes anemia. Orange Juice consumption enhances the absorption of iron found in spinach and red meat when these are consumed together. Calcium and Vitamin D uptake are also enhanced with fortified orange juice consumption. Calcium is critical for bone, joint and neural health, and Vitamin D plays an important role in immune system function, calcium uptake and metabolism, and and nerve health and function.
What’s more, 100% orange juice is rich in other antioxidants that are important for health and immunity such as carotenoids and flavanones. Similar to green tea and red wine and dark chocolate, citrus contains healthy flavonoids, the most prominent of which is hesperidin–– a flavonoid unique to citrus juices. Hesperidin is actually found in citrus peel, and when an orange is commercially pressed and processed into orange juice, the hesperidin is released. That process makes 100% orange juice a source of hesperidin. Hesperidin is proven to have antioxidant properties that protect cells in our body, leading to increases in bone, brain, heart and immune health.
Some carotenoids found in 100% orange juice, including beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthins, have been shown to form Vitamin A in the body, and Vitamin A is very important for immune function. Orange juice has been shown to be one of the main contributors of consumption of beta-cryptoxanthin in the U.S. diet. And, beta-cryptoxanthin, like hespiridin, has been shown to be almost two times more available in orange juice than in whole oranges due to the extraction process used to make orange juice.
In conclusion, 100% orange juice is truly one of the most nutritious juices that can be consumed. It is scientifically proven to have a variety of health benefits, ranging from reduced inflammation, improved immunity and improved cardiovascular health. 100% orange juice contains a beneficial array of vitamins, minerals, and bioactive plant compounds. It is clear that 100% orange juice can be included in healthy, balanced diets. Uncle Matt’s Organic juice is farmed without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, giving confidence that no harmful residues remain in the juice. And, research has shown that farming in this manner enhances the nutrient density of the final product.