Orange juice is a beverage that is almost universally consumed in the United States. It may be the first thing you drink in the morning with a handmade omelet, the beverage that washes down a heavy diner meal, or a light mid-afternoon refresher. But, when you drink orange juice, what happens to your body?
As it turns out, integrating this beverage into your diet has a slew of potential advantages.
Between 2019 and 2020, an estimated 532,000 metric tons of orange juice were consumed in the United States. And that should come as no surprise, given that it’s widely available, undoubtedly good, and a simple and practical way to include some fruit into your diet.
As for how nutritious it is, that depends on the type of orange juice you drink, how often you drink it, and your present condition of health.
Here’s what scientists want you to know about the consequences of drinking orange juice on a regular basis.
You’ll receive a significant amount of vitamins and minerals.
Drinking orange juice has many of the same nutritional benefits as eating an orange, according to Amanda A. Kostro Miller, an RD/LDN who serves on the Fitter Living advisory board. She also mentions that some commercial brands supplement their juice with additional nutrients.
“Orange juice is high in vitamin C (1 cup or 8 ounces contains roughly 67 percent of the daily recommended dietary requirement for adults), folate, potassium, and a tiny amount of magnesium,” says Andres Ayesta, creator of Vive Nutrition (MS, RD, LD, CSCS, CSSD).
You’ll get even more benefits if you consume orange juice that’s been fortified with calcium and vitamin D. These nutrients work together to enhance bone health, according to Lindsey Kane, RD and Director of Nutrition at Sun Basket.
Fun tidbit for vegans and vegetarians: according to Kane, vitamin C can help your body absorb non-heme iron, which is a kind of iron found in plants and is more difficult to absorb than heme iron found in animals products.
That’s why Kane recommends a splash of orange juice in your smoothie since it can aid in the absorption of iron from foods like spinach, almonds, and seeds.
However, because vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, there is a limit to how much your body can actually use it.
“Any extra water-soluble vitamin consumption, particularly vitamin C, is ejected from the body to avoid toxicity,” Kane notes. “In other words, drinking a few more glasses of orange juice isn’t going to help you—once you’ve met your daily intake, everything more goes down the toilet.”
You’ll strengthen your immune system
Remember how your mother always told you to drink orange juice to keep a cold at bay? Well, it appears that this age-old cure holds some reality.
“For excellent immune support, regular, consistent vitamin C intake is required,” Miller explains. “Orange juice can be a good source of vitamin C.”
Vitamin C, according to Ayesta, not only improves immune function but also acts as an antioxidant.
“I wouldn’t argue that drinking orange juice can prevent colds or diseases,” Ayesta says, “but it will boost antioxidant status, which will support a robust immune system.”
Your skin may appear younger
When it comes to vitamin C, did you know that this important antioxidant also plays a role in skin health?
It is thought to play a role in the synthesis of collagen, a protein that can help minimize wrinkles and enhance skin elasticity, according to Kane.
Why spend money on anti-aging serums when you can just drink a glass of orange juice to improve your skin?
You won’t feel as full as you would after eating an orange
Here’s the deal: A one-cup meal of orange has about 4.3 grams of fiber, whereas one cup of orange juice contains only about.2 grams, indicating that it digests faster.
This is why, according to Miller, you won’t feel extremely full after drinking orange juice. Not only that, but the fiber is vital for intestinal health and helps to limit sugar absorption, keeping blood sugar and energy levels in check, according to Kane.
Ayesta further claims that because orange juice is less satiating (due to a lack of fiber), you’re more prone to consume more than you require.
According to Miller, this can be a problem because orange juice has more calories, carbs, and sugar per serving than the fruit itself.
Kane’s advice: buy orange juice with at least some pulp to reintroduce some of that fiber.
Your blood sugar level may rise
A small orange contains only 9 grams of sugar, which may surprise you. On the other hand, the average cup of orange juice includes a whopping 21 grams of sugar.
The fact that orange juice is a concentrated form of fruit is one reason for the disparity.
However, as Ayesta points out, some manufacturers add refined sugar to their juice, which not only adds calories but also raises the risk of blood sugar spikes (depending on how much you consume in one sitting).
“If you don’t drink orange juice in moderation, you’ll experience blood sugar spikes, which can lead to energy fluctuations and frequent hunger,” adds Ayesta.
In the end, experts believe that the health benefits of drinking orange juice much outweigh any possible disadvantages.
Miller, on the other hand, recommends sticking to 100% orange juice and consuming no more than 4 ounces per day.
Kane recommends opting for cold-pressed orange juice if you want to receive the most vitamins and minerals. Because it goes through a gentler process, the juice maintains more of the heat-sensitive components that are lost during pasteurization at high temperatures.
Ayesta also recommends looking at the nutrition label to ensure there aren’t any hidden sugars.
Better yet, if you have the ability, he recommends preparing your own orange juice at home rather than buying it from the shop, as you will know that the only ingredient is freshly squeezed juice.