Whether made fresh or from concentrate, a glass of orange juice is an iconic breakfast item in North American culture. Once seen as the healthy alternative to other drinks, however, this and other juices have received negative press in recent years. The average consumer no longer knows the answer to a question that never had to be asked before: how healthy is orange juice?
Oranges are high in vitamins (especially Vitamin C), fiber, and other nutrients, much of which remains in orange juice that contains pulp. Oranges can also help decrease the risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, and joint inflammation. According to a 2014 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, while orange juice contains less flavonoids than unprocessed oranges, the juice releases at least 10 percent more flavonoids and carotenoids after digestion in vitro.
Researchers still recommend whole fruit, however, as it is more filling than juice, without spiking blood sugar levels. The body doesn’t need as much time to digest juice and the brain doesn’t “count” the calories taken in through liquids very well, according to Oregon State University. People also lose track more easily of how much juice they consume and end up ingesting too much acid, Vitamin C, and, worst of all, sugar.
In the end, researchers from the University of Buffalo disagree that the high sugar content of orange juice outweighs its health benefits, based on their 2007 study. So, just how healthy is orange juice? Orange juice in moderation can still be healthy, but scientists would agree we should all eat more whole oranges — for our own good.