Orange juice consumption provides numerous health benefits. For example, a 1/2 cup of unsweetened orange juice counts as one of your daily fruit servings, according to the USDA's ChooseMyPlate.gov. Additionally, this popular fruit juice hydrates and quenches thirst, as well as increases blood sugar, restores electrolytes, supplies vitamin C and protects against obesity.
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Lowers Blood Pressure
Orange juice may have a positive effect on your blood pressure, according to a study in the January 2013 issue of "ARYA Atherosclerosis." In this four week study, participants drank 1 cup of orange juice for breakfast and 1 cup at dinner time. One group drank commercial orange juice for 2 weeks while the other consumed natural orange juice. After 2 weeks, blood pressure was measured and the groups switched. At the end of the study, participants had decreased their blood pressure readings between 5 and 6 percent. It is interesting to note that the researchers point out that it is the beneficial effect on blood pressure came from consuming commercial orange juice, and not natural. It is believed the results are due to the fact that commercial varieties are more highly concentrated and therefore have higher amounts of beneficial flavonoids, pectins and essential oils. Be aware that the 2-cups per day used in the study is far more than the 1/2-cup serving recommended by the USDA.
Temporarily Boosts Blood Sugar
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, may occur after skipping a meal, following strenuous exercise or taking insulin. If your blood sugar becomes abnormally low, you may experience dizziness, confusion, light-headedness, fatigue, fast heartbeat and hunger. A 1/2-cup of unsweetened orange juice can help increase your blood sugar levels within a few minutes. When your blood sugar drops, your body is seeking energy. The simple sugars contained in orange juice provide immediate energy for your brain and body to resume adequate functioning. This is beneficial if you are suffering from low blood sugar, but can be detrimental if you are trying to regulate high blood sugar levels.
Increases Potassium Levels
During exercise, your body uses potassium stored in the the muscles to meet physical demands. Sweating, especially during exercise, can also cause a depletion of potassium. When your body’s potassium levels become too low, you may experience muscle cramping and irregular heartbeat. One cup of commercial orange contains juice contains 443 milligrams of potassium, or nearly 10 percent of the recommended intake of 4.7 grams. Orange juice replenishes your potassium levels by working with your body's sodium stores to regulate water levels. According to Colorado State University, sport drinks cannot restore this electrolyte balance, since these drinks are poor sources of potassium.
Delivers Vitamin C
Three-fourths of a cup of orange juice contains 107 percent of a woman’s daily recommended allowance of vitamin C and 83 percent of a man’s daily recommended allowance of vitamin C, according to Ohio State University. The vitamin C in orange juice helps with the absorption of iron, a necessary mineral for energy production. It also assists the body in building collagen, the primary protein in connective tissues and cartilage, which helps your skin heal from minor abrasions and protect against infections. Additionally, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, guarding your body against free radicals, harmful agents that cause cellular mutations.
May Aid Weight Loss
According to the University of New Hampshire, the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey suggests orange juice consumption is linked to lower body mass among adults and children. Orange juice consumption is an indicator of an overall healthier diet, as higher levels of vitamin C, potassium, folate and magnesium were detected among individuals drinking orange juice consistently. Contributing to lower weight status, children drinking 100 percent orange juice consumed less sugar overall than children drinking flavored milk and sodas. In addition, research conducted by the University of Buffalo reveals harmful oxidants -- agents contributing to obesity and atherosclerosis -- are reduced by drinking orange juice when consuming a high-fat meal. Orange juice is still high in calories -- 117 in 1-cup -- so be sure to take that into consideration when planning a diet or figuring your daily calorie intake.