Adding orange juice to your diet may have both nutrition and health benefits. If you drink orange juice you're more likely to get enough of vitamins A and C, potassium, folate and magnesium in your diet, weigh less and have lower cholesterol levels than people who don't drink orange juice, according to a study published in "Nutrition Journal" in 2012.
Orange Juice and Cholesterol
A study published in "Nutrition Research" in October 2010 found that participants who drank orange juice for 60 days lowered their low-density lipoprotein more than those who didn't drink orange juice. Overweight women who drank orange juice and followed an exercise program for three months experienced decreases in low-density lipoprotein as well as increases in high-density lipoprotein levels, while those who exercised but didn't drink orange juice didn't have any changes in their cholesterol levels in another study published in "Maturitas" in December 2012. LDL is considered bad cholesterol, since it increases your heart disease risk, and should be as low as possible, while HDL is often called good cholesterol since it carries cholesterol to the liver to be excreted and lowers your heart disease risk.
While orange juice can improve your cholesterol levels, you may have to drink quite a bit to experience a significant change. A study published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in November 2000 found that people with high cholesterol had to drink at least 3 cups of orange juice per day to increase their HDL levels. This can really make a dent in your daily calorie budget, since orange juice contains about 122 calories per cup, so drink orange juice in place of eating or drinking other foods that are less healthy rather than just adding it to your diet.
Beneficial plant chemicals called phytochemicals found in orange juice may be at least partly responsible for the cholesterol-lowering effects of orange juice. A study published in "Flavonoids in Cell Function" in 2002 found that while vitamin C helped limit clogging of the arteries, the other phytochemicals found in orange juice appear to be responsible for lowering cholesterol. These phytochemicals also act as antioxidants and keep your LDL from being turned into free radicals that could damage your cells.
Increasing the Effect
For even more of an effect on your cholesterol levels, opt for orange juice that is fortified with plant sterols. This type of orange juice significantly lowered both total and LDL cholesterol after two weeks of daily use compared to regular orange juice and baseline levels, according to a study published in "Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology" in 2004.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Dietary Cholesterol
- Nutrition Research: Orange Juice Decreases Low-density Lipoprotein Cholesterol in Hypercholesterolemic Subjects and Improves Lipid Transfer to High-density Lipoprotein in Normal and Hypercholesterolemic Subjects
- Maturitas: Orange Juice Improved Lipid Profile and Blood Lactate of Overweight Middle-aged Women Subjected to Aerobic Training
- Nutrition Journal: 100% Orange Juice Consumption Is Associated With Better Diet Quality, Improved Nutrient Adequacy, Decreased Risk for Obesity, and Improved Biomarkers of Health in Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003-2006
- Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: Bioavailability and Antioxidant Effects of Orange Juice Components in Humans
- Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology: Plant Sterol-Fortified Orange Juice Effectively Lowers Cholesterol Levels in Mildly Hypercholesterolemic Healthy Individuals
- Flavonoids in Cell Function: Polyphenol Antioxidants in Citrus Juices: in vitro and in vivo Studies Relevant to Heart Disease
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Orange Juice, Chilled, Includes From Concentrate
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.