Orange juice, as you can probably guess, is the juice squeezed from the popular and delicious citrus fruit, oranges. It is widely considered one of the healthiest beverages because of its wide range of health benefits, which include its ability to boost immune system function, reduce signs of aging, protect against cancer, boost cellular repair and metabolism, detoxify the body, improve circulation, improves blood pressure, reduces inflammation, and lowers cholesterol levels.
Introduction to Orange Juice
Oranges have been a staple of eating healthy for thousands of years, and the fruit probably originated somewhere in Southeast Asia. Historical records of oranges date back as far as China, more than 4,500 years ago. It is one of the most popular citrus fruits, and its scientific name is Citrus sinensis. There are a number of different orange varieties, but this is the sweet orange, the most popular and commonly eaten variety. This provides some of the most delicious types of orange juice, although there are some people who prefer the juice from blood oranges, mandarin oranges, or even bitter oranges.
The orange juice can be just as beneficial as eating the fruit whole, provided it is 100% natural, and is not loaded with preservatives, additives, and sugar. The closest thing to eating an orange would be drinking a glass of unpasteurized, freshly squeezed orange juice. The skin and pulp in oranges do have considerable health benefits, but you can get most of the most unusual nutrients and beneficial components out of orange juice in this way. Avoid frozen orange juice, canned orange juice, or concentrate, because with all of the processing, you lose a considerable amount of the natural goodness, and producers often turn to adding chemicals to the juice to replenish some of the lost nutritive value. Go natural and make sure you are getting all of the benefits of this miraculous and delicious fruit juice!
Nutritional Facts of Orange Juice
All of the impressive health benefits of orange juice can be attribute to its nutritive content, as well as vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, vitamin A, thiamin, folate, potassium, fiber, proteins, copper, magnesium, flavonoids, hesperidin, and a variety of other trace vitamins and minerals that make it one of the most valuable and nutrient-packed fruit available. Let’s explore the health benefits of this fruit juice in more detail below.
Health Benefits of Orange Juice
Immune System: Oranges and orange juice have long been known as a powerhouse of healing properties, and one of the richest sources of vitamin-C that you can add to a diet. A single service of orange juice has more than 200% of the vitamin C requirement of the body. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, functions as a primary antioxidant in the body, and it destroys or neutralizes free radicals before they can do damage to the body’s systems. Our bodies need vitamin C to stimulate other aspects of our immune system as well. Furthermore, ascorbic acid is one of the fundamental components of collagen, which is necessary to repair cells and for the growth of new tissues in the body.
Cancer Prevention: As mentioned, vitamin C works as an antioxidant, and one of the most important functions of antioxidants is to prevent cancer. Antioxidants keep the DNA of healthy cells from mutating into cancerous cells, so antioxidants like vitamin C are the first line of defense for cancer and other serious diseases. Along with vitamin C, orange juice also contains the antioxidant hesperidin, which has been connected to reducing tumor growth and even stimulating apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in cancerous cells. Although research is ongoing, it has positively been linked to colon cancer prevention, but it is likely that hesperidin is effective in terms of many types of cancer.
Detoxifying Properties: Along with vitamin C, orange juice is also very high in vitamin A, which acts as a moderate antioxidant. Beyond that, it detoxifies the body by increasing the function of the kidneys. Vitamin A has long been connected to eye health, and adding enough vitamin A to your diet can also boost your ability to see at night, as well as macular degeneration. A single cup serving of orange juice has nearly 50% of the daily required intake of that precious vitamin.
Blood Circulation and Creation: There is another very powerful aspect of oranges and orange juice, its folate content. Folate is a member of the B complex, technically it is vitamin B9. This important vitamin is essential in the creation of DNA and the growth of new cells. Folate also keeps cells safe from mutation, which is one of the ways that free radicals damage the body. Furthermore, folate plays a role in building new red blood cells, as well as stimulating the flow of blood to the extremities. This means that the organ systems are well-oxygenated and are working at full capacity. This supports the overall metabolism of the body and the functioning of all the systems, making them more efficient.
Inflammation: Citrus fruits are commonly considered anti-inflammatory agents, and orange juice is no exception. High sugar and high fat meals can lead to inflammation of various body parts, and this, in turn, can lead to the development of increased insulin resistance. This is one of the major underlying causes of type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis. Studies have shown that orange juice can inhibit this insulin resistance by reducing inflammation, thereby protecting the heart and guaranteeing overall cardiovascular protection. Also, being able to reduce the chances of developing diabetes is a major bonus of this property of orange juice.
Blood Pressure: As mentioned earlier, hesperidin is an antioxidant, which means that it protects the body against disease and cancer, but this water-soluble plant compound also impacts the activity and functioning of small blood vessels. This can have a major impact on blood pressure as a whole, and research has connected this powerful antioxidant to a reduction in overall blood pressure and a decreased chance of cardiovascular diseases.
Cholesterol Balance: High cholesterol is one of the most dangerous causes of cardiovascular disease, so any way to reduce the cholesterol in your body is worth trying. Orange juice has been shown to reduce the presence and effects of “bad” cholesterol, why increasing the amount of “good” cholesterol in the body. This is a relatively recent advance in the study of citrus fruits, so while the exact mechanism behind this advantageous property is unknown, a great deal of research is being done to figure it out! This property means that the chances of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes were reduced.
A Few Words of Warning: It may seem like a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice is the best thing you can add to your diet, and in most cases, that is true. However, having too much of a good thing can be dangerous. Orange juice, like the juice of most citrus fruits, is quite acidic, so too much acidic liquid in the body can upset the stomach. Furthermore, since oranges do have a relatively high glycemic load, drinking a lot at once can cause massive fluctuations in your blood sugar levels, which can lead to varying energy levels throughout the day, and can lead to complications for diabetic or pre-diabetic patients. Finally, if you want the complete benefit of oranges, avoid orange juice and eat the orange itself. That is the only way to get a good amount of fiber to boost your digestion; orange juice has almost no fiber.
Besides those few warnings, drink to your heart’s content; orange juice is the perfect way to feel refreshed and get your body on track to perfect health!