Orange juice nutrition: Why you should rather eat real oranges

Orange juice nutrition
“We are living in a world where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons.” – Alfred E. Newman

Orange juice nutrition: Why you should rather eat real oranges

We are in Yorkshire, England in the early 1920’s. Lady Grantham of Downton Abbey enjoys a glass of orange juice with breakfast for the first time in her life. Like always brand new ideas are first discovered by the American’s and then exported to Europe. Lady Grantham finds the idea of drinking an orange comforting and sends a warm smile to her lady’s maid. What an invention!

So that’s how it all started decades ago. It is still believed that a healthy breakfast includes a fresh squeezed glass of orange juice. And when that is not available, the juice out of a box will do just fine. Think before you drink!

Let’s investigate the health benefits of orange juice, the most popular breakfast beverage in more detail.

  • 100% orange juice healthy. The vitamin C in orange juice prevents us from getting colds

BUT… is this really true?

I took this for granted. Before I started nutrition school it was one of the few things that were written in stone. But the claim that vitamin C has the potential to prevent and treat common colds, is a controversial topic. There are studies that disprove that claim and studies that suggest that it is valid. Who said orange juice nutrition is going to be easy?

  • One cup of orange juice has 125% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin C

BUT… can your body store it?

Oranges are a great source of vitamin C. In the 1700s, sailors with the British navy died from scurvy because of vitamin C deficiency. Most animals produce ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in the liver. However, we humans have lost this ability along our evolution journey.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that the body doesn’t store it. It can perform its magic in your body for about 2 hours. Within 3 to 4 hours it’s out of the blood and eliminated from your body. Even when your body was able to absorb all the 125% of vitamin C, it’s gone within 2 hours. What about the rest of the 22 hours of the day? That is like being on a 24-hour cruise and the cold beverage supply lasts only for the first 2 hours. Not so funny, right? Also vitamin C is used up even more rapidly when you’re stressed, when you drink alcohol or smoke.

So it is clever to have smaller amounts of vitamin C more often during the day. The vitamin C of one orange is all you need for a great start into the day.

  • Fortified orange juice contains extra calcium, which is important for healthy bones

BUT… does our body absorb it?

Let’s talk about fortification or enrichment, which may sound good on first impression.

Fortified means that product is processed and thus likely to be of lower quality than the original food. Most orange juice is pasteurized (heated to an elevated temperature for a short period of time to kill bacteria). Unfortunately vitamin C is easily lost during heating.

It is not necessary better when you add an isolated nutrient back into processed food. What is the quality of the added nutrient? Is the calcium extracted from rock or real foods? Some nutrients can me made synthetically. Is it bioavailable, meaning can your body absorb it? Is vitamin D around, which is needed to absorb calcium?

Furthermore calcium’s best friend is magnesium and the calcium-magnesium balance is important. When you supplement with calcium, it is suggested that you increase your magnesium intake as well. To make things even more complicated supplements of calcium are not well absorbed in the present of food. So what are the chances that you really benefit from the added calcium in your OJ?

Whole foods are balanced starter kits. Everything you need to absorb the nutrients is available in the whole food. If Mother Nature wanted you to have calcium with your orange then she would have put calcium into the orange.

  • Fortified orange juice contains extra vitamin D, which is a key player for overall health

BUT … is it the good vitamin D3 form?

Most beverages are fortified with a synthetic form of vitamin D2. Supplemental vitamin D comes in two forms. Vitamin D2 and D3. Studies suggest that vitamin D2 increases mortality risk, while vitamin D3 decreases it. So the vitamin D2 in orange juice might be more harmful than doing any good.

  • 100% orange juice is free of fat, cholesterol and sodium

BUT… isn’t that the case for most fruits and vegetables?

Yes, that is true and probably a good thing for a processed food. Yet it is also true for most fruits and vegetables. The natural occurring nutrients in whole foods are good and beneficial. Nature engineers whole foods with all its ingredients to make the best possible use out of it.

  • Orange juice is free of ADDED sugars

BUT… what about the natural occurring sugars?

Fruit juice should always be free of added sugars. But one glass (8 oz./250 ml) of orange juice comes with an amazing 25 grams of fruit sugar, the sugar that naturally occurs in fruit. That equals 6 sugar cubes! Imagine putting 6 sugar cubes into your coffee. Yikes! Trust me, you don’t want 6 sugar cubes for breakfast. Along with the other sugars that might linger in your breakfast they all affect your blood sugar level. Other sugars hide e.g. in cereals, bagels, donuts, toast, jam, or pancakes with syrup. It’s not a good thing! Any excess sugar is converted to body fat. Which none of us wants!

My 8 favourite sugar substitutes

Is sugar more addictive than cocaine?

  • One glass of orange juice is equal to 4 to 5 oranges

BUT… concentrated forms are not always better.

More is not always better. When was the last time you ate 4 or 5 oranges at once? Nature packages everything so perfectly, one orange = one serving. With one orange you still get lots of vitamin C but eat less calories and spare extra sugar. Not only are you taking a step towards better health but also sparing the environment some added garbage.

Orange juice nutrition, orange juice calories & benefits of orange juice

Orange juice nutrition: Why you should rather eat real oranges by
Tanja Knapp
About the Author
Tanja Knapp

Tanja Knapp is an Explorer, Adventurer and Happiness Hunter currently camping in beautiful Vancouver, Canada. Her roots are in Germany where she grew up on a remote farm. A colony of abnormal cells in her cervix taught her the lesson that would change her life forever. Life doesn't get better by chance, it get better by change. She truly believes in creating happiness & health through constant adapting, growing and evolving. Her super power is curiosity. With her blog she likes to inspire others to explore uncharted territory.

If she is not busy writing, running, swimming or cycling, she is expanding her knowledge, exploring the World, and taking on new challenges.

She is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and graduated with an Honors diploma in Holistic Nutrition from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in 2013. She obtained a Hospitality certification in 1998 and a Marketing Communications diploma in 2004. She has worked both in Europe and North America.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.