Orange juice has long been hailed as the juice of choice for breakfast. It is pleasantly sweet and and complements many morning meal choices. Although you may love your morning glass of orange juice just for the tangy taste, it provides several health benefits.
Concentrated, Fresh Squeezed or Home Squeezed?
The most common distinction between commercial orange juice varieties is whether it is from concentrate or fresh squeezed. In general, concentrated orange juice is far less expensive than its fresh counterpart. Unfortunately, this tends to affect the taste of the juice and can denature some of the nutrients. Fresh-squeezed commercial orange juice does undergo pasteurization to eliminate any potential toxins, which can compromise some of the nutritional value. The most effective way of procuring the full benefits of orange juice is to squeeze the fruits yourself.
All types of orange juice yield about 110 calories per 1-cup serving. They all have about 21 g of sugar per cup, 12 g of carbohydrates, a nominal amount of fat -- less than 0.1 g -- and about 0.5 g of dietary fiber. Fiber content may increase depending on the presence of pulp. High-pulp fresh-squeezed and home-squeezed orange juice can contain close to 4 g of dietary fiber. Orange juice is also an excellent source of vitamin C.
The majority of orange juice’s health benefits are due to its impressive vitamin C content -- each serving is approximately 101 percent of the daily recommended value. Vitamin C is responsible for forming collagen, the protein required to produce ligaments, blood vessels, scar tissue, skin and tendons. It also helps prevent free radical damage that can lead to early onset aging, certain cancers and even cardiovascular diseases.
The Bottom Line
For the most part, orange juice, whether it is concentrated, fresh or home-squeezed is a healthy choice as part of a balanced diet. Due to the high sugar content, however, moderation is key. Choosing a high-pulp variety that is high in fiber can help reduce the quick absorption of sugar to prevent blood sugar spikes, which is problematic for insulin-sensitive people such as diabetics.