The health benefits of orange juice are often overstated.Because orange juice is condensed, it contains almost as much sugar as a glass of Coca Cola and can lead to blood sugar spikes and weight gain. But orange juice, like an orange, is still a good source antioxidants and immune-boosting vitamin C.This article was medically reviewed by Lisa Defazio, a registered dietitian and nutritionist in Los Angeles, California.Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
Orange juice is the most popular fruit juice sold in the US and has been advertised as a staple in a healthy diet. Some experts warn, however, that orange juice doesn’t live up to marketers’ claims and may actually be bad for your health. Here’s what you need to know about whether or not orange juice is a healthy addition to your diet.The nutritional contents of orange juiceOrange juice has many important vitamins and nutrients but also contains high levels of sugar that may work against your health. Here is what you get in an 8-ounce glass of orange juice:Calories: 110Protein: 2 gramsCarbohydrates: 26 gramsSugars: 22 gramsVitamin C: 120% of your recommended daily intake (RDI)Thiamin: 15% RDIPotassium: 13% RDIFolate: 10% RDI
A cup of orange juice carries a lot more sugar than a medium-sized orange, which contains only 62 calories and 12 grams of sugar.Because it is more condensed, orange juice has slightly higher levels of thiamin and potassium, but oranges provide just as much vitamin C and folate, likely because these vitamins can be damaged during the juice production process.The health benefits of orange juice Orange juice contains important nutrients that our bodies need to stay healthy. Some of the main health benefits of orange juice come from:
These health benefits are not unique to orange juice. You can get these same important nutrients by eating an orange, and in fact, it’s a much healthier alternative. The health risks of orange juiceThough orange juice has health-boosting nutrients, it may not be as good for you as it seems. “Orange juice isn’t a health food,” says Scott Kahan, MD, MPH, director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness. Blood sugar spikes and diabetesOrange juice has about as much sugar and calories as soda, Kahan says. An 8 oz. glass of Coca Cola, for example, has 26 grams of sugar, compared with 22 grams in orange juice.”People with diabetes should be especially careful to avoid over-consuming orange juice,” Kahan says, as sugary drinks can spike your blood sugar. Over time, blood sugar spikes can lead to dangerous conditions like heart disease and kidney disease, even for people without diabetes.
Weight gain Some experts recommend that adults and children should eat whole fruit instead of drinking fruit juices. This is because fruit contains fiber, which slows down the process of digestion and makes you feel more full. Studies show that drinking juice without getting the natural fiber from fruits is linked to obesity and liver damage. This is because when you drink fruit juice, you can quickly consume the juice of multiple fruits without feeling full, making it easy to take in large amounts of sugar.If you have trouble managing your weight, it’s best to avoid sugary drinks like orange juice, Kahan says. This is because when you take in extra calories from a drink, you are less likely to compensate by eating less, while adding extra food may cause you to eat a smaller meal later.A 2011 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who drank 100% fruit juice gained more weight over 4 years than people who stayed away from it. Juice was not the main culprit in weight gain, however, as sugar-sweetened beverages caused twice as much weight gain.
The bottom line”If you really enjoy orange juice, then it may be worth incorporating in moderate amounts into a balanced diet,” Kahan says. “However, it shouldn’t be considered a health food.”Doctors recommend that if you do want to drink orange juice, adults and children should limit it to one small glass per day. If you are looking to get your daily dose of vitamin C, the healthiest option may be to just eat an orange.Kahan also says that diluting orange juice with water could be a helpful option to avoid taking in as much sugar. You should also double-check ingredient labels, as some brands may add extra sugar.