Is Orange Juice Healthy For You?

orangejuice

I have never really been a big fan of orange juice or juice in general. I suppose for me, the term “never drink your calories” has stuck and so I made a conscious choice to eat chocolate instead (guilty pleasure:).  Because of this, I typically don’t buy juice much in our house. But every once in a while I crave a glass of orange juice and I find myself thinking, is orange juice healthy? When I scan the labels at the grocery store I expect to see obvious ‘bad’ ingredients but instead I often only see one ingredient, 100% pure oranges and not from concentrate.

I knew there had to be a catch.

After all, how come ever glass of 100% pure not from concentrate orange juice always tastes the same? That seems odd to me so I decided to do a little more research. Here is what I found:

Its all in the processing.. “Aha!…Of course.”

How orange juice is processed makes all the difference. Think about it: If you were to freshly squeeze an orange yourself and drink it, it would taste freshly squeezed AND each time you made it, it would taste different depending on the season, the type of oranges and many other factors, such as where the oranges are from. But pre-made 100% juice all tastes the same. Every time.

The truth about the processing of orange juice

In a nutshell, the chemistry of how orange juice is made has more to do with the final product than the nature of the orange.

For mass quantities of orange juice to be made, the industrial companies must store the orange juice in large holding tanks after the oranges have been squeezed. In order for the oranges to stay fresh and keep from being spoiled, all of the oxygen is removed from the holding tanks. This will allow the orange juice to stay fresh for one year.

Removing oxygen also removes the flavor

The problem with this is that the flavor is also destroyed from the juice once the oxygen is removed. So “flavor packs” are added to the juice to make the final product, which is why it tastes the same with every glass.

Why are flavor packs not listed on the label?

Here is what Food Renegade has to say about flavor packs and why they are not listed on the ingredients label:

When the juice is stripped of oxygen it is also stripped of flavor providing chemicals. Juice companies therefore hire flavor and fragrance companies, the same ones that formulate perfumes for Dior and Calvin Klein, to engineer flavor packs to add back to the juice to make it taste fresh. Flavor packs aren’t listed as an ingredient on the label because technically they are derived from orange essence and oil. Yet those in the industry will tell you that the flavor packs, whether made for reconstituted or pasteurized orange juice, resemble nothing found in nature. “

But that isn’t the only reason to think about cutting back or stopping juice in your diet.

Juice is just concentrated fructose

Did you know it could take up to 8 fresh squeezed oranges to make 1 8oz glass of orange juice? That is equal to a whopping 8 teaspoons of sugar in one glass. Compare this to a can of soda pop which is equal to 10 teaspoons of sugar. This is clearly more than the recommended daily amount by a long shot.

I don’t want to give the impression that fresh squeezed orange juice is not healthy, it certainly has a lot of added benefit including vitamins that help maintain the daily recommended amounts. But it is dangerous to get into the habit of drinking the juice instead of eating the fruit, for a number of reasons;

Whole fruit contains necessary nutrients, healthy bacteria, and fiberpureoranges

With the whole fruit you get all the added benefit of the fiber, the pectin, and all the nutrients from the skin, including healthy gut bacteria. Fiber is necessary as it slows down the absorption process which helps to prevent over indulgence of unnecessary calories. Additionally, fresh fruit leaves behind fiber in the digestive track which helps to moisten and cleanse which softens mucus that builds up over time.

The soluble fiber found in oranges is fermented by our gut bacteria but you must eat the whole fruit to retain this benefit since the soluble fiber is found mostly in the skin or the membranes that divide the segments of the orange.

Also, during the processing of orange juice, a lot of the antioxidants are lost, especially in a pasteurized product. Antioxidants are important for our overall health and to keep our systems clear of free radicals that cause damage to cells. What we ultimately want is to consume products that are generally higher in antioxidants rather than diminishing their potency.

Too much fructose = risk for obesity & diabetesobesity

Most importantly, pay attention to your fructose levels. The recommended daily amount by Dr. Joseph Mercola is 25 grams of fructose per day for a person of a healthy weight. For an obese person it is recommended to lower that level to 15 grams per day. At least half of your daily fructose should come from whole fruits. There are plenty of charts available on the internet that will give you a list of fruits and the fructose levels they contain. They are quite shocking actually, so you may want to pay attention to how much you fructose you are taking in with just fruit alone.  A high intake of fructose has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and even cancer.

 So where to go from here if you are a juice lover?

If you want to drink juice, one suggestion is to squeeze your own as long as you limit it (remember how many oranges it takes to make a glass of orange juice and I don’t think you would regularly eat 8 oranges in one sitting…). Better yet, invest in a high power blender such as the Vitamix and put the whole fruit in your drink so that you get the goodness of all of it’s parts. Try to be aware of how much fructose you are ingesting and if using a high power blender such as the Vitamix, try to limit the fruit and add more veggies to help balance your nutrition.

Do you buy a lot of juice? What are your secrets to limiting your sugar intake?

Warmly,

Rachel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

32 Comments


  1. // Reply

    I am an orange juice lover from a child but I’m allergic to citrus. I grew up with fruit trees everywhere. Orange, lemon, pear, peach, apple pear, plumb, apricot and fig.

    Because of this I don’t like store bought fruit and I never will. I only like fresh fruit because it’s not processed. It has all it’s flavor, nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

    My parents didn’t use pesticides so it was all grown fresh, picked fresh and eaten fresh. We would make orange juice out of our oranges. But anyone who grows their own oranges knows the number of oranges it takes to make a glass of orange. However, they also know how horribly sweet it is so you cut the sweet with water.

    Since fresh oranges home grown are not processed the same as oranges for store bought orange juice do you think they would be healthier for you?


    1. // Reply

      Hi Rawl, Thank you for your comments. I got really thirsty for fresh squeezed juice when I read this! How fortunate that your grew up with so many fresh fruits around you. For me this would be a dream come true.

      To answer your question, YES, most definitely fresh is best! The key is to drink fresh juice in moderation (as you mentioned it takes several oranges just to make one glass). But I would suggest fresh over commercial any day, as you are getting all of the natural nutrients without any processing being done to the product.


  2. // Reply

    This is really an interesting article. I don’t normally drink juice but now you mentioned it yeah orange juice doesn’t taste that natural even if they tell you so. Not only that it has that thickness texture to it that makes you feel like you’re drinking more calories than when you are just eating regular oranges. I’ll just keep trying to stick to whole fruits than drinking juice.


    1. // Reply

      Hello Joon,
      You nailed it! It does taste like you are drinking thicker, more concentrated juice! Definitley try to stick to the whole fruit or fresh squeezed. So much more nutrients, less secret ingredients and more refreshing.
      Thanks for stopping in.
      Rachel


  3. // Reply

    Hi, this is indeed an interesting topic about orange juice. You put forward so many facts about the processed juice. I have spent one year on Tenerife and there you can buy 100% natural juice in supermarket. Also in bars you can order it and it is squeezed fresh directly in front of you. Real stuff and you can feel it. It takes around 3 oranges for one glass, I have seen it being made that way.


    1. // Reply

      Hi Jovo,
      I always love to hear stories like this! It makes me want to take a tropical holiday just for the beautiful fresh fruits and juices! Thanks for your comment.
      Rachel


  4. // Reply

    I love Orange Juice! I probably drink the stuff about twice a day at least haha. I’ve always been thinking of squeezing my own juice because not only would it be more fun, but a lot healthier. After reading this article i think im going to do just that =)
    Thank you!


  5. // Reply

    I love Orange Juice! I probably drink the stuff about twice a day at least haha. I’ve always been thinking of squeezing my own juice because not only would it be more fun, but a lot healthier. After reading this article i think im going to do just that =)
    Thank you!


    1. // Reply

      Nick,
      thank you for your comment:) I’m going to suggest that you try fresh squeezed! Its amazing!


  6. // Reply

    Rachel,
    I liked this article. I do enjoy orange juice but I rarely buy it. I have tried to cut back on fructose, sugar, and unhealthy items. I really never thought of juice as unhealthy but I agree there are better choices. I also did not realize that it takes 8 oranges to get a glass of orange juice.Thanks for enlighting me.
    Joyce


    1. // Reply

      Hi Joyce,
      Thank you for commenting and visiting my site. I am glad I could help:) Yes, juice is definitely delicious but should be a “treat” and not an every day consumption.
      Rachel


  7. // Reply

    I always felt that drinking a lot of orange juice was not good for my kids but I wasn’t really sure why. I just thought it was only because of the sugar. Thanks to you and your education, I know know it’s also the processing that destroys the nutritional benefits of oranges. I have tried making my own also but I finally just decided to eat the whole orange. That way I get more of the fiber too.


    1. // Reply

      Hi Scott,
      Thank you for visiting my site:)
      Sadly, we do have to take the processing of our food into consideration. I think you have it right that it is much more beneficial to just eat the orange!
      Rachel


  8. // Reply

    I never buy orange juice even though it tastes great, EXCEPT for this week. The other day when I went grocery shopping I got some because I’m sick and wanted the extra vitamin C. So I was wondering how healthy it really is to be drinking it.. I never knew anything about flavor packs! That’s crazy. But you learn something new every day I guess.
    Something else juice lovers could do is water down their juice. Most juices are way overly sweet anyways. They could start by doing 75% juice 25% water and eventually get it down to 50% 50%, while eating whole fruits as well.


    1. // Reply

      Hi Gina, thank you for reaching out and sharing your idea. This is fantastic advice to water down your juice if you love juice and don’t want to give it up. What a great way to cut back slowly. I have often followed this advice myself when making my children’s apple juice or when we are we are dining out. I always order half juice, half water. It is a great way to cut back the sugar and after a while, a person gets so used to it that way that it becomes more of the normal. It helps to save a child’s teeth as well!


  9. // Reply

    Hi, thank you for your sharing!
    Before reading your post, I always thought that orange juice was healthy because it is made of fresh oranges. However, I am wrong. It is very unhealthy because of a large amount of sugar adding the juice. I should properly not drink it very often. Otherwise, I will become fat and unhealthy.


    1. // Reply

      Hi Anthony,

      Thank you for your comment and for visiting my page:)

      I don’t know if I would say that you WILL become fat and unhealthy, but I do recommend limiting the amount of juice you drink. It is a good idea to try to eat the fruit, rather than always drink the juice.

      Cheers!

      Rachel


  10. // Reply

    Hi,
    Great information here. I was never a juice fan. I didn’t feel like I was getting the full nutrient benefits.

    I have learned over the years anything prepackaged is full of stuff that are not natural.

    You’re right the best way to get juice is eating drinking whole foods and fruits.

    Sodas are so bad. Maybe it tastes good for that minute yoire drinking it but afterwards you just feel sluggish and gross.

    Thanks,
    Sofia


    1. // Reply

      HI Sofia,

      Thank you for visiting my page. I agree with you, that anything pre-packaged is definitely not as good as the real thing! I have never been a juice fan either, but I come from a family of in-laws that love their juice so I have hopefully helped to educate them a little. I have most of them at least juicing the real fruit!

      Rachel


  11. // Reply

    I’ve heard some of this information before, but sometimes it’s good to be reminded of one of the reasons I stopped drinking orange juice and “not from concentrate” ruby red grapefruit juice. I was not aware that they used “flavor packets” to recreate the flavor of the fruit in the juice.

    Do you know if the same is done for other fruit juices, like apple juice? I’ve noticed that the “not from concentrate” apple juices taste different from brand to brand, some having a stronger flavor than others.

    Sadly, none of the supermarket juices taste anything like the juice I make fresh in my juicer at home (except for the natural brands where the juice is cloudy and sold in a glass jug), which means the same process is probably used. Yuck.

    I’ll be looking for more articles like this one.

    Erika


    1. // Reply

      Hi Erika,

      Thanks so much for taking an interest in this article. Sadly, pre-packaged “pure” juices of all kinds are chemical ridden with flavor packs. But I am not knocking them completely, there is some nutritional value, especially the not from concentrate kind. It’s just much cleaner to drink the real fruit using a juicer, or better yet, EAT the whole food. This will increase your daily natural fibre as well:)

      Rachel


  12. // Reply

    Hi Rachel, what an interesting article. I never knew how orange juice is beeing produced in an industrial way and I must say I won’t buy orange juice again. Lucky for us, we have an orange tree in our garden but we prefer to eat the fruit whole or chopped up in a smoothie. But this is more a special treat in our family. Usually, we drink good old water. That is always the best option.
    Cheers Anke


    1. // Reply

      Hello Anke,

      Thank you for your comments and for visiting my site.

      I am thrilled for you that you have an orange tree in your garden…lucky you! I am in the process of growing a baby orange tree in my house but I have no idea if it is actually going to produce…time will tell.

      Cheers, and I agree with you that juice, even in the natural state, is a treat!

      Rachel


  13. // Reply

    Hi Rachel,
    I thought your article on orange juice was very interesting. I am a big orange juice fan but I also do realise the dangers of using too much process foods.
    In relation to the fructose levels my question is, does the labels ‘no added sugar’ on juice make any difference to the product.

    Best regards
    Andrew


    1. // Reply

      Hi Andrew,this is a great question, and very confusing at the same time, right?

      I can tell you that “no added sugar” is an indication that no processed sugar of any kind has been added to enhance the flavor, which is a good thing. The sugar is just existing in the products natural form. However, just because there is no added sugar does not indicate that it is the healthiest way to consume the product. Sometimes in the processing, the fiber and other nutrients and vitamins get lost so all you basically have left is the natural sugar. It is always a good idea to consume the most raw and unprocessed version of a food so that you are getting all of the benefits of the food. I hope that makes sense.

      Thanks for reading:)

      Rachel


  14. // Reply

    I like to lead a healthy lifestyle and have at times had some orange juice. The problem though is maintaining this as I do not follow through. I was therefore quite interested to read this post to see if I am making the right choice.

    Seems by your post making my own fruit juice is the way to go. Can you tell me more about the Vitamix please. As I would be interested in this. Thanks.


    1. // Reply

      Hi Owain,

      Thanks for taking the time to read my article. If you choose to make your own juice you can use several different types of juices or blenders.

      I am a huge fan of the Vitamix… here is a product review I did on it that you can read in more detail.

      http://healthylittlehearts.com/vitamix-6300-costco

      Rachel


  15. // Reply

    We don’t buy a lot of orange juice and I have cut down the amount I drink in the last three months as I prefer to drink more cold filtered water instead.

    When I do have orange juice, I just put a third of a glass in and fill the rest of the glass with water as I find it too much to drink a whole glass of orange juice on it’s own.

    I do prefer just eating fruit and have it with cereal in the morning as I think that doing this and limiting the amount of orange juice I have helps to keep my sugar intake down.


  16. // Reply

    This was a great article. I too am not a fan of orange juice in a carton, can or bottle. You explain my reason perfectly in your article. Very well researched ! And it’s pretty much common sense if you really think about it. Why it tastes like it does and about the removal of oxygen. And then an intelligent suggestion of juicing at home and the reason to support it. Also the warning you give about how many oranges you juice bearing in mind that one wouldn’t eat 8 oranges in one go, so don’t juice 8 oranges in one go. Many thanks for allowing me to read this. Very informative.


    1. // Reply

      Hi Roy! Thank you for your comments! Glad I could help:)


  17. // Reply

    This is such an enlightening post – thanks for this! When I do have orange juice, I always peel and deseed the fresh fruit and blend it instead of juicing it.

    Something I have tried in my smoothies is to add a courgette as a replacement for a banana – it adds the thickness but without the extra sugar.


    1. // Reply

      Hi Yvonne, thanks so much for your comments! I have never heard of a courgette…but you have me curious now and I am going to research it. Thanks again for the great tip!

Leave a Reply

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