Oranges are not only one of the most popular fruits, but also one of the most nutritious. A single orange contains high amounts of vitamin C, fiber, thiamin and potassium. It also contains small amounts of vitamin B6, vitamin A, niacin, magnesium and iron. Although there are many types and varieties of oranges, all have similar nutritional values.
Oranges (and orange juice) are one of best sources of vitamin C. In fact, a single glass of orange juice provides you with 137% of your daily requirement of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful anti-oxidant that can help protect your body against the effects of free radicals, which age your cells and can lead to the development of certain diseases and health issues, including atherosclerosis, heart disease, breast cancer and stroke.
A glass of 100% unsweetened orange juice also gives you two other important nutrients: potassium (14% of your daily requirement) and thiamin (18%). Potassium is essential for the health of muscle, including heart muscle, as well as for the proper functioning of the kidneys, and to regulate blood pressure. Thiamin is one of the B vitamins (B1). Its main function is to help your body convert blood sugar into energy, regulating appetite in the process. Thiamin also helps improve the health of your muscles and nervous system.
Fresh Oranges vs. Orange Juice
Pros of Orange Juice: Orange juice has one major advantage over fresh oranges. Many brands of boxed orange juice now come with added calcium. Depending on the brand, a single glass of orange juice can provide you with up to 50% of your daily requirements of calcium.
Pros of Fresh Oranges: Fresh natural oranges are much lower in sugar and calories than orange juice. This is because artificial sugar is added to boxed juice in order to improve its taste. That added sugar also increases the calorie count. A single medium-size orange contains about 64 calories, while the calories in a glass of orange juice are much higher: 110 calories for every 8-oz. Fresh juice sold as “100% juice” should be free from added sugars, but always check labels to make sure. When sugars are added, a single glass of orange juice can contain as much sugar as a glass of Coca Cola.
Another big advantage of eating an orange versus drinking a glass of juice is the orange’s fiber content. Fiber is essential if you’re trying to lose weight, as it keeps you full without adding a lot of calories to your diet. Fiber can also keep you regular, help lower cholesterol and could help prevent certain types of cancer (especially colon cancer).
Pros and Cons of Frozen Concentrate Juice
Many people think frozen juice concentrate is just juice that has been frozen. However, frozen concentrate packs much more nutritional value than juice (even fresh juice made at home).
One big advantage of frozen concentrate juice is that is cheaper than fresh boxed juice and a more practical option if you don’t drink juice every day, since it can last for months in the freezer.
If you choose frozen orange juice from concentrate, you get an additional advantage. Fresh or boxed orange juice contains only the juice of an orange. Although that gives you all the vitamins and minerals found in an orange, you’ll be missing the fiber, which is only found in the pulp of the fruit. Orange juice made from concentrate is made using the whole fruit, including the peel and sometimes the pith (depending on the brand). This means juice from concentrate is the most nutritious option or at least as good as eating a whole fresh orange. Juice from concentrate gives you more soluble pectin (a form of fiber that slows down glucose absorption and binds to cholesterol) and more antioxidants than any other option.
Frozen concentrate doesn’t taste as “fresh” as boxed orange juice. This is especially true after you’ve already opened the container and then return it to the freezer, where it can absorb odors or get freezer burn.
Drinking orange juice could be a great way to add important nutrients to your diet. However, the key is in choosing the best available option. Always read labels and make sure you’re choosing a brand with no added sugars. Also, look for the words “100% juice” on the front label.