Is Orange Juice Good For You? Why Orange Juice Isn’t a “Health Food” (And The Truth About Vitamin C)
Is Your Morning Orange Juice Actually Good For You or Bad For You?
How many of you think that orange juice is part of a healthy, balanced breakfast?
And how many of you think that orange juice is a superfood packed with vitamin C, and that it is, in fact, the best source of vitamin C?
If you said yes to the two above questions, then you’ve been conned by very clever marketers and businessmen. Let me explain.
At some point during the Vitamin C era, when it became very popular as a supplement, some smart marketer learned that oranges had vitamin C. People in the alternative health space at this time were buying Vitamin C by the boatloads because they believed that it protected them against the common cold and flu.
So, some smart marketer thought “hmm, millions of people think vitamin c protects them from the cold and flu, oranges have vitamin C, orange juice tastes good, let’s play this up!”
And then after adding “A fantastic source of Vitamin C!” to trillions of bottles of orange juice, in most people’s minds oranges and orange juice became the de-facto best source of Vitamin C.
Except it’s not true.
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Is Orange Juice Actually a Good Source of Vitamin C For You?
Okay, let me first say this. I was raised taking two 500 mg tabs of vitamin c every night as a child. My mom told me to take them every night so I wouldn’t get sick. If I was sick, I would take 1-2,000 mg of vitamin C. We were raised in a family that was into alternative medicine and healthy eating in general.
As I got older, I started asking “why” a lot more and stopped taking it. Somewhere near the end of college, as I kept hearing the vitamin C thing repeated over and over (go take an airborne!), I figured it was time to jump in and see what the research says.
In one study, researchers gave test subjects 0.2 g of vitamin C a day to see if vitamin C reduced the incidence, duration, or severity of the common cold (when used as an on-going thing, or after symptoms had already set in).
The results? Unless you’re a marathon runner, a soldier in an arctic environment, or someone who lives in a very cold environment — it won’t do much.
It didn’t reduce the chances of getting a cold in the general adult population or how bad your cold was, but it might reduce the duration a bit.
It’s most effective in people who aren’t already getting the proper nutrients and vitamins from their diet (if you aren’t eating plants, that’s probably you), or the above-mentioned athletes under extreme stress or people in arctic conditions.
It’s not going to be producing magical results though, so don’t expect that. If you think you’re getting sick, taking vitamin C isn’t going to have a very noticeable effect. This is the same reason why the company behind the supplement Airborne was sued — it was marketed as something that “will protect you from a germy environment and prevent you from getting sick.” Obviously since the science doesn’t support this, it’s false advertising. They ended up settling for $23 million dollars.
Regardless of whether or not you are taking vitamin C supplements though, the right diet is naturally very high in vitamin C.
And that brings us to the next point: veggies are actually much higher in vitamin C (and other vitamins) than orange juice or oranges.
Three Foods That Have More Vitamin C Than Your Orange Juice For You (And Less Sugar)
Alright. So how much vitamin C is in an orange? Around 50-75mg.
How much vitamin C is in a cup of orange juice? Based on my Tropicana carton in the fridge, “~100%” which, based on the RDA of vitamin C, is about 75-90mg.
Now compare this to 1 cup of several veggies:
So there are actually a lot of very common vegetables that give you the same (or a lot more) vitamin C than oranges, however, they don’t contain the added sugar or “carbohydrate nature” that orange juice has. They also don’t contain an insane amount of fructose, which is part of what is slowly killing you.
Why Drinking Orange Juice is Not a Health Food
People seem to think that just because they’re drinking orange juice, it’s healthy. Just because it’s natural, it’s healthy.
But not all sugars behave the same way in your body. Fruits, for example, contain Fructose. Fructose originally didn’t make up much of our diet because, for those of us in the temperate regions, the main natural source of fructose is fruit – which is seasonal.
But now because of the massive use of High Fructose Corn Syrup — which basically tastes like sugar but is cheaper to make — Fructose makes up a much higher percentage of our diet. Fructose is in everything. Soft drinks. Candies. Crackers.
Fructose, when you consume it in normal proportions, is fine. But because people now are drinking 2 glasses of orange juice, then a soda with High Fructose Cornsyrup, and some crackers and chips (also with High Fructose Corn Syrup), and even bread that has it, fructose consumption is at an all-time high.
In studies, high fructose consumption has been linked to alterations in fat levels, cholesterol changes, as well as other obvious changes that occur with a high energy intake like weight gain, metabolic disorder, and cardiovascular issues.
Alright. I get it. I’m not supposed to consume a ton of fructose or sugar. But what about fruit?!
Two Reasons to Avoid Packaged Fruit Juices If You’re Trying to Lose Weight (And If You Do Consume Fruit – Eat It)
There are a couple reasons why you should avoid excess fruit consumption if you’re trying to lose weight (and get rid of all fruit juices:
#1 Lots of fruit juice = higher liquid carbohydrate intake. For many people, slightly reducing their carbohydrate intake (done effortlessly by just eating the right foods) produces sustained weight loss. Fruits are indeed carbohydrates, and fruit juice has a much quicker, more measurable effect on fat gain than it’s solid counterpart. Liquid carbs (like beer) tend to be more fattening in general than solid carbs. Additionally, there are more nutrients and vitamins in fresher food. Eat your fruit if you are going to be consuming it at all.
#2 Lots of fruit juice = Lots of Fructose (Sugar). Not all sugars are created equally. Frosted flakes, soda, and fruit juice don’t all behave the same once they enter your body. A study that was highlighted in TIME magazine compared the effects of a diet that had 25% of calories coming from liquid drinks that were either glucose or fructose. At the end of the 12 weeks, the weights were similar (both test groups studied were already obese), but the group consuming lots of fructose showed signs of liver damage and fat deposits forming. No such change was shown in the glucose group. Chill on the fructose. Also, many fruit juices have sugar added (including High Fructose Corn Syrup). Christ man, it’s orange juice.. do we really need to make it sweeter!?
This is the same reason why you shouldn’t buy the sweetener Agave.
So – Is Orange Juice Good For You or Bad For You?
As a quick recap:
# 1 – Don’t freak out about “getting your vitamin C” from oranges. When cold and flu season comes around, instead of drinking 3 glasses of orange juice a day (which will probably add 5 pounds to your waist by the end of the month), increase your vegetable intake (particularly the ones listed) and sleep more. Smart marketer’s have somehow made you believe that oranges are the best and only source of vitamin C. It definitely tastes the best though…
# 2 – Vitamin C supplements honestly won’t help you much. Unless you’re already very unhealthy with a nutrient-poor diet or an extreme athlete who trains a lot, or someone living in freezing conditions, you won’t see much of an immune system bump from taking two 500mg tabs of vitamin c per night. The best defense is a proper diet and sleep.
# 3 – If you want to lose weight or are struggling to keep consistent weight loss, drop the fruit juice. Fruit juices can be high-carb and high-sugar. Even though they’re “good for you” there are better sources of nutrients with a fraction of the sugar (or none at all). Eat fruit, don’t drink it.
My Verdict on Fruit Juice and Orange Juice
I wanted to just share three things here.
Is fruit juice inherently bad for you? No, but:
- There are way better sources of vitamin C than orange juice;
- If you drink a lot of fruit juice every day you are drinking a lot of sugar (and you’re better off eating the fruit instead)
- One glass a day won’t kill you or make you fat – this is primarily for people drinking many glasses a day, hammering it down before they get sick for the “vitamin C,” or people who naturally think they’re doing their body a favor by drinking fruit juice 3x a day rather than soda
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I’m finding it difficult to eliminate all fructose from my diet. I’ve eliminated fruits, but it seems that almost all vegetables also have much more than a minimal amount. How do I best eliminate this killer from my diet completely?
Hey Lance –
I wouldn’t worry too much about fructose in plants. Generally it’s mostly in high concentrations in fruits. Eating fruits is totally fine, too, I just wouldn’t eat 10 oranges a day because that’s a lot of sugar added to your diet.
If you’re eating tons of veggies, generally you should be fine and ( based on what else you’re eating) on the road to consistent weight loss.
Linus Pauling was working on Vitamin C therapy for heart disease. Vitamin C is used in the body to manufacture collagen and is the building blocks of life. It’s very important for the body. Check out his work. Thanks for the article.
That’s pretty interesting! Will definitely check it out.
Lines Pauling advocated Vitamin C that it would protect against cancer and heart problems. None of his claims were verified either by himself or by others. On the contrary, 15 studies have shown that excess vitamins, especially Vitamin A and C, are actually harmful as the body’s natural balance between oxidants and anti oxidants is disrupted. The oxidants have a beneficial role as well, contrary to the general belief. It kills cancer cells. In one of the studies cancer patients were divided into two groups. One was control group and the other was given high doses of vitamin C daily to see the effect. The study had to be abandoned because those who were taking Vitamin C were dying much quicker than the ones who were not. The medical circles all around the world are unanimous in their approach now that unless their is an evident and proven deficiency of a vitamin in the body, using it in the form of supplements as a part of daily diet is not recommended.
And oh, Linus Pauling died of Prostate Cancer himself, a few months after his wife died of cancer as well.
If your telling me, that Tropicana’s Orange Juice is somehow bad for you, then you have lost your mind. People like you trying to convince people that everything is bad. Fruit is bad, Milk is bad, wheat is bad. Wow I might as well just eat broccoli and soy, then your going to tell me that is bad too.
My point was neither that Tropicana’s orange juice is bad, nor that orange juice by itself is bad. My point is that fruit juice is not the same as eating fruit – and that we’re better off eating fruit for health reasons. People seem to think that drinking multiple glasses of orange juice a day is healthy – and just like eating fruit – which it isn’t.
Hope that answers your questions/concerns.
Actually broccoli is what’s bad for health, check the studies on the impact of vegs like broccoli on your thyroid. Drinking a glass of self made natural orange juice is perfectly ok, claiming otherwise is being clueless.
What about Grapefruit? I have been eating a half grapefruit each morning. Good or bad?
Sorry I think I did a bad job explaining in this article. What I mean is that fruit is definitely good for you – but the packaged fruit juices we often buy are not the same as eating the fruit. I would avoid pre-packaged fruit juices.
If you’re going to consume fruit, eat it 🙂
Hope that helps!
WOW!!! That’s so true! If you are interested in this on google look up “Why GMO is bad for you” and make sures it the negative reasons because GMO us horrible for people!!!!!!! But i totally agree there are many different ways to get vitamin C than in orange juice. My mom is with me on this 😀 and we both agree on everything about this 🙂 so true, keep spreading the word!!!!!!!
I’m currently in the process of overhaulling my diet, I’m altering little bits at a time to make it more likely to stick long term. I’ve read this same thing about fruit juices a number of times and have a question. Currently I have a glass of orange juice with breakfast, around the 200ml mark. I don’t drink it at any other time of the day, and the other sugary drinks I have been drinking are being phased out, so soon the OJ will be the only thing other than water I drink. For reference, I’m eating porridge for breakfast rather than a processed cereal to minimise the processed sugars and increase my protein and fibre intake at breakfast.
At this sort of level, am I really likely to see a decrease in body fat, or is a single glass not really going to make much of a difference?
Chances are, a single glass won’t make much of a difference. I wouldn’t obsess over it. If you were drinking 2-3 glasses a day then I would say to re-evaluate, but you should be fine. Focus on the big wins – the 20% that affects 80% of your results.
Hope that helps!
Just a little more clarification. When you say eat fruit, are you opposed to blending up fresh fruit yourself? Would that still be drinking it?
If you’re keeping the pulp and most of the “tissue” in the orange (for example) you’re fine. But I would avoid juicing 10 oranges and just drinking the juice every morning. That’s a lot of sugar, without some of the fiber and roughage to slow down the absorption of it.
Basically it’s really a matter of keeping the “meat” and pulp for two reasons: A. You can’t really eat 10 oranges at once (which is a good thing, because that’d be a lot of sugar), but you can “eat” 10 oranges a day by drinking orange juice. B. When you eat the pulp, tissue, fiber, etc. with the juice it slows down the absorption of the sugar into your blood stream. = a good thing for staying slim.
Hope that helps!
Hi Alex ,
I too am a one glass in the morning addict. Love my OJ!! Can hardly think straight before my dose.
But now I’m trying to cut all the sugar. Someone mentioned recently that if I make sure I have a little protein with the OJ, it’s not such a hit on the system. Like a spoonful of P butter?Do you agree?
I think this has something to do with insulin issue..not sure.
Also, does the pulp help for processing all that sugar?
Chances are, one glass of OJ won’t affect fat loss or body composition much. Pulp & fiber will also serve that purpose – it’s not that it helps process the sugar, it’s just that it causes the sugar to be absorbed much slower by the body, and thus not cause such a strong hit on your blood sugar.
Regarding protein & the OJ – yep that’s true! You can offset the blood sugar spike by consuming protein with it.
Hope that helps!
people now day cant differentiat between allergy and flu
running nose , sneezing , cooh all thees are allergy but if not treated it will weeking your immunity sys , and will couse inflammation which make it easy to catch coold vires
vitamin c (full) not ascorbic accid , have good effect in reducing inflammation and accelating wounds healing , and best source for it to protect from that type of allergy is pineapple if consumed with bitcaroteen (carrot ) and almond
this is tested for nose allergy
That has to be the biggest load of shit I have ever read. I’m guessing you’re American?
I have never once in my life ever heard that OJ is “the only source of vit C” or the best source of vit C.
Pure Orange juice is good for you, why you’re telling people that it is “killing them” is shocking.
Obviously drinking too much of it is bad for you, but that is the same as anytype of food, god knows why you picked on Orange’s.
Maybe because your mum was a psycho that fed her kids vitamin tablets, when it has been proven thousands of times that vitamin tablets are completely useless (unless you aren’t getting the vitamins you need).
I would suggest heavily altering your article, starting with the title.
My point in the article is that, in the United States, orange juice is so heavily marketed as being the best source of Vitamin C that people often don’t even know there are other sources (except vitamins).
You’re right, pure orange juice is good for you. In the article I mentioned packaged orange juice. This is hardly the same as a home made glass of OJ with no additives.
I picked on orange juice (not oranges), because A. packaged OJ is not even nearly the same as home made OJ, and B. There are much better sources of vitamin C where you don’t need to drink half a gallon of sugared up brand-name orange juice.
Also the point was to dispel the “vitamin C” myth — that there are better sources than orange juice, and that it’s not nearly as effective an immune booster as we make it out to be. No disagreement there on the vitamin tablets. Despite the evidence, millions of Americans take unproven (or disproved) vitamin supplements on a daily basis.
Hope that answers your questions and concerns —
Barry, I’m guessing you’re British because Barry is a popular name for English men who are around 55 to 65 years of age.
Anyway, in one poll, the UK was named as having the world’s worst cuisine
But of course I could be wrong and you could have any nationality at all!
Greetings , I have a question ?,.what about drinking fresh orange juice, every morning I drink fresh orange juice and I mix it with apples or carrots, but.it’s fresh I use my juice extractor every day.is it healthy ? Does it has a.lot of sugar ?
Fresh juice is fine 🙂 Even so, I wouldn’t juice 15 oranges and drink that for breakfast.
I eat alot of fruit. Shoud i ahve to stop consuming as much fruit or should i eat the smae amount.
You’re generally fine if you’re eating a lot of fruit – assuming it’s not some of the more sugary ones like pineapple, mango, papaya, etc. I would focus on getting the rest of the food you eat cleaned up first – focus on real, whole foods and you’ll be good!
I prefer to dilute my Orange juice….with vodka…..
Haha Mike, I like where you’re going with this 😉
Alex is right about fruit juice. Watch the lecture called Sugar: The Bitter Truth. The whole hour and a half lecture can be viewed on YouTube. A doctor of endocrinology demonstrates the differences between 3 different carbohydrates: glucose, ethanol, and fructose. Consuming 120 calories of each of the carb types yields different results. Only about 24 out of the 120 glucose calories make it to the liver. Of the 24 calories, most is stored as glycogen, and only about 1/2 calorie makes it to fat production. With ethanol and fructose, 96 calories make it to the liver where a whole host of problems begin. 30% of the calories are converted to fat! The doctor concludes that fructose is essentially a poison just like ethanol.
What is that 20 % that makes up 80% of your health mean ? what is the meaning of that? Ken you providing me examples?
Sorry I didn’t explain it better. What I meant was that we should focus on the few most important things that will give us maximal results, Minimal effort for maximal results.
For example, If you wanted to change your body composition, you could A. start exercising, B. start taking supplements, C. Start sleeping a little bit more, D. Start meditation, E. Start bringing your dog for small walks to get extra exercise, or F. Focus on changing your diet.
If you focused on the part that will give you 80% of the results, which is your diet, you won’t need to stress out and focus on the other 10-15 things in your head to improve your health. Diet is by far the most important, and will provide the best results, so just focus on that.
Does that make any sense?
I’ve been using one cup of Simply Orange as a base for my morning breakfast smoothie. I put pineapple, strawberry, mango, banana, white grapes, & ice in my smoothie. I consume this before my morning workout by the way. I started replacing traditional breakfast with homemade smoothies & lunch with salads & fruit. When I started last year in August I was 230 lbs. I’m now 160 lbs & gained muscle. People still tell me that the amount of fruit I consume is too much. Even though my average daily calorie burn is 1,500. I just have a sweet tooth & fruit satisfies it.
Hey Marc Anthony,
Eating fruit is much healthier than drinking it in the liquid form. What you’re doing is a much better way to consume it, and even if you were eating too much fruit, you’re probably buffering that with exercise. Chances are you have nothing to worry about. If you are eating tons of fruit, for example 5x a day, and something worries you – a quick blood test should show if there are any abnormalities. Also, you might be suffering from a strong sweet tooth because you’re too hungry at each meal.
Hey Alex, someone had told me that drinking too much fruit juice drinks are bad because it could cause your kidneys to jack up, and something about forming scar tissues inside your stomach or something, simply because their is much acid in most fruit drinks. Do you know anything about drinking fluids with a lot of acid could affect your kidneys? Well in long term.
I’m not familiar with any research suggesting that fruit juice is related to kidneys. Maybe your friend was referring to the liver?
I already knew that vitamin C, doesn’t prevent the common cold, although it has been proven in studies to reduce the symptoms once you catch a cold by 20%, that is not the reason why I take it
I take it because an antioxidant and it helps to fight the nasty free radicals, I don’t give a damn about the common cold, vitamin c helps the body make collagen, free radicals over time may contribute to the aging process and the development of health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.
Some studies — though not all — suggest that vitamin C, acting as an antioxidant, can slow down the progression of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
You’re right, that’s a great reason to take vitamin C. There are many many sources of antioxidants though, and chances are the food you eat is going to give you a more bio-available form of vitamin C than a supplement anyway.
Reading what you wrote I can only remain astonished for the manner how you can treat this argument in so simply incomplete and useless way. The title you choosen Orange Juice is killing slowly peoples. That is not true. Bad habits, wrong diet help your death not for sure the excess of orange juice consumption. Not for sure the high intake of vitamin C through supplements or what else. You cannot treat this argument (Vitamin C) without consider the rest of the matter: the DIET and the aliments. The information you put here are incomplete and are giving to the people which reading a wrong idea of which is the right/health way to follow. For sure avoid the fruit juices will not let peoples’ loose their fat.
So if I go on a juice fast for ten days, and I am talking about juicing my own organic fruits and vegetables, no high fructose corn syrup….if I juice oranges for my morning drink for ten days, another fruit for mid morning, then a veg juice twice in the afternoon with a warm veggie broth in the evening. What are the effects of drinking orange juice everyday for ten days? Okay, not okay, any ideas, input from anyone….thanks
Generally speaking it should be fine, but how much orange juice are you drinking? Overall, if people want to go the juicing route I try to suggest sticking with the veggies for most of it and just supplementing with fruit juices.
Chances are, you’ll probably be fine, especially if you’re consuming a lot less than normal.
It true just by cutting out sugar and red meat I have lost 38lbs no joke I was used to be 245 after my 3child but now I feel much better and no so tired and I am going to stay away from pop and orange juice and other fruit juice ….
Although this article contains some good points, the title and much of it is misleading and ill informed. Do not get nutritional tips online. Get them from a registered dietician that has extensive and legitimate knowledge in food from every angle and how the human body uses it.
Kindly tell me where I “misinformed” my audience or told false information and I’ll gladly make some changes.
Maybe at the part where it says your morning glass of orange juice is killing you.
OMG everyone is asking the same question. Use common sense. Too much sugar is bad. The more juice you consume the more sugar you consume. Sugar can lead to insulin spikes, diabetes, and even feed cancer cells (everyone is born with cancer cells btw).
Anyone saying this article is false and misleading needs to do some research on sugar before disputing the suggestions of the article. People stuck in their ways are quick to dispute anything to the contrary.
Talk about complexity through obscurity. Clearly excessing on anything is bad for our bodies – we don’t need science to tell us this.
Judging from the comments on here this post has clearly confused perfectly healthy people in regards to their morning glass of juice. Of course we would all love to consume fresh fruit and veg regularly, but this is not so simple, economic and convenient for everybody.
The title and pretence here has put people into worry about doing something which is actually reasonably healthy. At the end of the day orange Juice > beer/fizzy drinks etc. and so you shouldn’t be deterring people away from it. Using terminology such as ‘killing’ is just awful and sensationalist!
… Especially in relation to weight. People, you will not become fat from drinking juice (don’t worry), you will become fat from eating McDonalds and rarely exercising.
I’m planning on losing weight – I’m only 20 but already starting to get a bit of a belly and my jeans have gone up from a 28 to a 30 waist. Anyway, I consume 1 150ml glass of orange juice a day. I have all my other fruits and veg too – broccoli, carrots, onion, apples, bananas, strawberries, cauliflower, sweetcorn, peas etc. And I exercise for about an hour a day. I very rarely touch junk food or chocolate, crisps etc. Do you think the orange juice I drink will prevent me from losing weight at all?
No chance. A glass of juice a day is not a big deal or a substantial amount to make a big difference in weight. I’m mostly referring to people that think they are doing their body “good” by drinking multiple glasses a day, or overdosing on it to get their “vitamin C” when they think they’re getting sick.
You’re better off looking at the big picture and considering the main factors in weight.
How is the rest of the food you eat? What’s your sleep like?
Show us where drinking orange juice has killed a person. You need to change the bullshit title to your article. Probably did it that way to grab peoples attention.
Studies have found vitamin c (ascorbic acid) to be ineffective because this man made vitamin C is synthetic and processed. Camu Camu powder is a super food from the amazon rainforest and high in vitamin c. It has 70% more vitamin C than an orange. http://altmedicine.about.com/od/herbsupplementguide/a/Camu-Camu.htm
Correct me if I’m wrong. What you are saying here is the packed fruit juice in the grocery not the fruit juice from the REAL FRUITS, right?? Because i consume like 3 large glasses of blended fresh fruits and veggies a day.
Yep! That’s right.
Focus on one thing, really learn about it, and then be a voice. You shouldn’t take on an important health issue when you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. There are too many things wrong with this article to even bother listing. Have some decency and take it down.
I’d be happy to take it down if you show me something factually wrong I mentioned in the article.
The reality is that people should be eating their fruit, not drinking it, and there are a lot other better sources of vitamin C than oranges.
What a poorly written and shockingly poorly researched article!
I think you should start by reading some good published medical journals with vitamin C trials and then write an update to this article.