Orange juice is the most popular juice in the United States, according to the book "Contemporary Nutrition: Functional Approach," probably because OJ combines the right mix of good taste, nutrition and availability. Orange juice tends to be sweeter than the juices of other citrus fruits, and it’s a good source of vitamin C and fiber. If you don’t like the taste of orange juice or if you’re looking for a change, then you’re in luck because various other juices can serve as healthy replacements.
Oranges typically have the most vitamin C of any citrus fruit, which is important for boosting immunity and making the elastic-like material in skin called collagen. For example, an 8-ounce glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice usually contains between 100 milligrams and 125 milligrams of vitamin C. Oranges are also good sources of antioxidants, potassium, thiamin and folate. Antioxidants destroy free radicals, which are damaging to blood vessels and other tissues. The pulp in orange juice is a good source of dietary fiber, helpful for combating constipation. On the downside, orange juice is relatively high in fructose sugar, which may be an issue if you have diabetes, and it’s fairly acidic, which can cause stomach upset
Grapefruit juice is a common alternative to orange juice, especially for breakfast. Grapefruits are usually more tart and sour than oranges, but some ruby red varieties can be a little sweeter. Red grapefruits are good sources of lycopene, which is a flavonoid that eliminates free radicals and helps to deter cancer, according to "The Nutribase Complete Book of Food Counts," by Art Ulene. White grapefruits are usually more acidic than oranges because they contain more vitamin C, so the risk of stomach upset may be higher. Grapefruit juice is also a very good source of fiber, but it interacts with many medications, such as blood thinners and antidepressants, so consult your doctor if you take any prescription drugs.
Fresh lemon juice is often too sour to drink on its own, but it can be readily turned into lemonade by adding some honey or other natural sweeteners. Lemons are very good sources of vitamin C, but don't contain quite as much as oranges. For example, an 8-ounce glass of fresh-squeezed lemon juice usually contains about 90 milligrams of vitamin C. However, lemon juice is richer in other acids and compounds, such as limonene, which makes it a better germ fighter than orange juice. Consequently, drinking lemon juice may help prevent stomach and intestinal infections.
Guava juice is a tasty tropical alternative to orange juice, but its import costs may stretch your budget. Guava is sweet and rich tasting, which is due to the combination of fructose and essential plant oils. Perhaps surprisingly, guavas typically contain more vitamin C and antioxidants than oranges do. For example, an 8-ounce glass of fresh guava juice contains about 160 milligrams of vitamin C, which is about twice the daily recommended amount for women. Guava juice has similar levels of soluble fiber compared to orange juice, which is important for keeping cholesterol levels in check.
Pineapples are a unique combination of sweet and sour. Fresh pineapple juice is a good source of many vitamins, especially vitamin C, and it contains enzymes that can help with digestion. The most prevalent enzyme is bromelain, which helps to break down protein into building blocks called amino acids. Thus, drinking pineapple juice immediately after protein-rich meals may help with digestion. On the other hand, the acids and enzymes in pineapple juice can sometimes cause little erosion canker sores in the mouth or on the tongue.
- Contemporary Nutrition: Functional Approach; Gordon M. Wardlaw, et al.
- The Nutribase Complete Book of Food Counts; Art Ulene
- Natural Standard Herb & Supplement Reference: Evidence-based Clinical Reviews; Catherine E. Ulbricht and Ethan M. Basch
- Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine; Simon Mills and Kerry Bone
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.