Is Orange Juice Healthy?

August 22, 2016   22 Comments

A tall glass of orange juice is hard to resist but is it healthy?

Is Orange Juice Healthy?

Plenty of people take a look at the container above and see that lovely orange with a straw and think – hey, this is good for me! It only has one ingredient “oranges” and it tastes good.

Also, check out that vitamin C and other nutrient amounts in one serving. This has to be healthy!

Orange juice was one the first things that Weight Watchers convinced me to give up when I needed to lose weight. I used to drink about 4-6 ounces a day and when I stopped, I dropped a few pounds.

This 8 ounce serving has 22 grams of sugar per glass! And it isn't fresh from the orange.

From Misunderstanding Orange Juice as a Health Drink:

Most commercial orange juice is so heavily processed that it would be undrinkable if not for the addition of something called flavor packs. This is the latest technological innovation in the industry’s perpetual quest to mimic the simplicity of fresh juice.

Oils and essences are extracted from the oranges and then sold to a flavor manufacturer who concocts a carefully composed flavor pack customized to the company’s flavor specifications. The juice, which has been patiently sitting in storage sometimes for more than a year, is then pumped with these packs to restore its aroma and taste, which by this point have been thoroughly annihilated.

Did you know that? Well, I didn’t. Of course, when you have fresh squeezed orange juice it tastes nothing like Tropicana so we could have guessed something was going on. It is nothing like an orange with a straw.

Take a look at the nutrient facts in one orange:

62 calories, 0.16 g fat, 0.0 g saturated fat, 15.3 g carbohydrates, 12 g sugar, 1.2 g protein, 3.1 g fiber, 0 mg sodium, Vitamin C 116%, Vitamin A 6%, Calcium 5%, Iron 1%, Potassium 237 mg

And one 8 ounce glass of orange juice:

110 calories, 0 g fat, 0.0 g saturated fat, 26 g carbohydrates, 22 g sugar, 2 g protein, 0 g fiber, 0 mg sodium, Vitamin C 120%, Calcium 2%, Potassium 450 mg

If you could suck an orange into a straw, you would get almost the same amount of Vitamin C and nutrients but you get more fiber and less sugar.

It is a clear choice when you look at an orange versus orange juice as to which is healthier. But is orange juice unhealthy?

The British government thinks so. They are calling on a tax on fruit juice and a warning to consumers that is has as much sugar as Coke. From a nutrition expert in the UK:

Fruit juice isn’t the same as intact fruit and it has got as much sugar as many classical sugar drinks. It is also absorbed very fast so by the time it gets to your stomach your body doesn’t know whether it’s Coca-Cola or orange juice, frankly.

Oh my.

Orange juice is a highly processed drink with a lot of sugar per serving. It does remind one of soda, doesn’t it?

My advice is to drink it rarely or dilute it. Don’t let its beautiful color or packaging fool you – it is not healthy.

Do you drink orange juice? Have you been tricked into thinking it is a healthy choice?

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First 20 Comments: ( See all 22 )

I love a 4-oz. glass of Trop 50 every morning with breakfast. I know it has artificial sweeteners in it, but it is an indulgence I allow myself. It's fortified with calcium, so that's another reason to enjoy it.

I quit the oj habit after my doctor sent me to a nutritionist. That small glass of oj in the morning used to send my blood sugar levels on a roller coaster ride for the rest of the day. Putting an end to that has been both a health improvement, and allowed me to be free of the headache and craving for sugar that each drop in blood sugar brought.

I love my oj but now I have to rethink-would trop 50 be a choice or just do my own fresh

When I found out I was type 2 diabetic I was so surprised that the doctor said NO orange Juice...So I haven't had orange juice in 4 mos.

I take a lot of supplements in the morning and, of course, need something to wash them down with. I have been well aware of how they make OJ for a long time. So for a 6 oz. glass, I use 4 oz. of water and 2 of OJ. Sometimes I just use lemon water or unsweetened almond milk. I am 74 and have been able to keep my weight in check for years. I have been a label reader forever. My best advice is to stay informed and Snack Girl does a good job of helping us all with that.

I can't have orange juice for health reasons, but it's really bad for your blood sugar, among other things. It's ALWAYS best to make your own. I always wondered why OJ from the store NEVER looked or tasted like an orange. This explains it :)


What about the juice you see them squeeze fresh at the grocery store?

Good post! Reminding us about sugar in OJ! My doc told me many years ago if you want OJ make your own or better yet just eat the orange! My family is big on eating oranges. We use them interchangeably with lemons, limes and grapefruits as water enhancers, in our tea, some soups, salad dressings and marinades, etc., etc. I love grapefruitade with a few drops of stevia leaf extract. Whole citrus fruit really brightens up our meals! Thanks Snack Girl, OJ is definitely not good for us in large quantities or processed with all the goodness removed!!

I gave up orange juice many years ago and started drinking Orange Cream ZipFizz in the morning (I usually drink two tubes). A dietician told me that it had everything I needed and is only ten calories. I have not had a cold since I started drinking it, and it has replaced coffee (it has caffeine).

If I am not eager to get out of bed some mornings, I remember the Orange Cream ZipFizz and the fizzy thirst quenching taste. It only takes a minute and I am thoroughly hydrated. I sampled it once at Sam's Club years ago and I was hooked.

I am not one to purchase vitamins or supplements or energy drinks, but this stuff is something I make sure I am never without (It is pricey, but get it at Amazon for $14 for 20 tubes with Subscribe and Save). I know this sounds like a commercial, but it is just something that has replaced orange juice and have no regrets.

I stopped drinking orange juice over 15 years ago and people are still shocked when I tell them it's because it's not healthy. Thanks for pointing it out. Way better to eat an orange.

No Longer. I Do Not Feel Tricked By The Offerings.

With the exception of the fiber eating two oranges or having a glass of orange juice is very comparable. Both have naturally occurring sugars as does virtually all fruit. So if your "guide" to what is healthy or not is just determined by sugar a medium size apple has the same sugar as a glass of orange juice so it too would be "unhealthy" by your standards.

Perhaps you are fine with just drinking water but that will not fly for my kids and generally speaking I'm not aware of many drinks healthier than orange juice albeit with 22g of sugar it should be consumed in moderation. However, I would humbly suggest that anyone who sees orange juice as on par with any soft drink is gravely mistaken. There is no nutrition in a soft drink and it has nothing in common with a glass of orange juice with the exception of the labelled total sugar. BUT orange juice has the naturally occurring sugars found in fruit which break down much more slowly which in turn leads to a more stable blood sugar, refined sugars found in soft drinks absorb quickly and lead to blood sugar spikes so the comparison is not apples to apple so to say.

Let me ask you what do your kids drink besides water?

@Sarah - Fresh squeezed (in front of your eyes) is a much better product (tastes better and is the real thing) but is still a treat because of the concentration of sugar. It is expensive anyway so easy to consume in moderation. Thanks for your question!

Oh my... I knew orange juice has a lot of sugar, but never expected HOW horrible it is in the processing of the juice. Thanks for opening my eyes!

I use to drink OJ but... now OJ is simply a rare treat. I now eat the Orange or two if I am still hungry at breakfast. My drink of choice now is water.

Patrick, it's not just about the sugar. Reread Snack Girls original commentary and notice how OJ is processed.

Oils and essences are extracted from the oranges and then sold to a flavor manufacturer who concocts a carefully composed flavor pack customized to the company’s flavor specifications.

I drink O.J. on a fairly regular basis but I stick with making my own juice at home. Store bought brands are very unhealthy and just don't taste right. Drinking any kind of fruit juice is unfortunately going to result in a big sugar uptake. That is why as a juicer I use mainly vegetables with just a little bit of fruits to sweeten my juice. However I just can't give up fresh squeezed orange juice.

I can't have orange juice for health reasons, but it's really bad for your blood sugar, among other things. It's ALWAYS best to make your own. I always wondered why OJ from the store NEVER looked or tasted like an orange. This explains it :)

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