Fresh-squeezed orange juice is a much different beverage than the vast majority of orange juices that line the shelves of your grocery store. They may look a lot alike, but the nutritional benefits are often vastly different. Some processed orange juices have additional nutrients added to them, but fresh-squeezed varieties are naturally rich in bioflavonoids and vitamin C, which provide most of the health benefits.
Issues with Processing
Virtually all of the orange juices available at the local grocery store are processed in some way in efforts to extend shelf-life, because fresh-squeezed juice turns sour and starts to degrade within a few days. Almost all store-bought juices are pasteurized, which involves heating the juice to high temperatures in efforts to kill possible pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. The downside to pasteurization is that it can destroy heat-sensitive nutrients such as bioflavonoids and vitamin C, according to “Contemporary Nutrition: Functional Approach.” As such, fresh-squeezed orange juice consumed within a few hours of preparing it is likely to have the most nutrients and in ratios that occur in nature.
Benefits of Bioflavonoids
Bioflavonoids are substances that act as plant pigments and strong antioxidants. Oranges contain a wide variety of bioflavonoids such as hesperidin, quercetin and tangeritin. In general, bioflavonoids help prevent oxidation damage from free radicals, combat degenerative diseases and tissue aging, support cell growth and cardiovascular health and display some anti-cancer properties. More specifically, quercetin also exhibits anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. However, bioflavonoids in juice degrade fairly quickly with time, so drinking fresh-squeezed varieties ensures that you get the most nutrients from your fruit.
Benefits of Vitamin C
Oranges are not the best natural source of vitamin C, but they certainly are a very good source. For example, an 8-ounce glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice typically contains more than the recommended daily amount for vitamin C, which is around 100 milligrams.
Vitamin C has many functions in your body. It’s needed for collagen growth and repair, which affects the health and appearance of your skin, joints and entire cardiovascular system. It’s also a powerful antioxidant and decent antimicrobial. Vitamin C also stimulates your immune response and enhances the absorption of dietary iron.
Drinking fresh-squeezed orange juice has many other benefits, such as being a source of hydration and natural sugar called fructose. In contrast, store-bought juice often has highly refined sugar or artificial sweeteners added. Fresh orange juice also contains decent amounts of dietary fiber and B vitamins, such as folate and thiamine. Furthermore, compared to eating fruit, drinking juice reduces digestion time and increases the rate of nutrient absorption. On the other hand, eating an orange instead of drinking its juice provides you with more fiber and burns a few more calories because of the digestive process.
- Contemporary Nutrition: Functional Approach; Gordon M. Wardlaw et al.
- Encyclopedia of Human Nutrition; Benjamin Caballero et al.
- The Nutribase Complete Book of Food Counts; Art Ulene
- Human Metabolism: Functional Diversity and Integration; J. Ramsey Bronk
Sirah Dubois is currently a PhD student in food science after having completed her master's degree in nutrition at the University of Alberta. She has worked in private practice as a dietitian in Edmonton, Canada and her nutrition-related articles have appeared in The Edmonton Journal newspaper.