Oranges for Health: to Eat or Drink?

orange juice or whole oranges?Science confirms that oranges are a rich source of vitamin C which has healing properties, acts as an antioxidant and boosts your immune system. Vitamin C also possibly has cholesterol lowering benefits, protects against heart disease, protects against rheumatoid arthritis, stomach cancer, kidney stones and aids in good respiratory heath. So there is no doubt that oranges are great for your health!

Apart from vitamin C, oranges are a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin B1, pantothenic acid, vitamin A, folate, calcium, copper and potassium. But whether should you eat the fruit or drink its juice is the burning question today. In your morning breakfast, after the gym, or as a serving to a guest, orange juice is an all time favorite. We always carry the guilt of not eating the fruit in its natural form and depriving the body of essential dietary fiber though. Is there a need to feel guilty at all? We have always heard from grandmothers and nutritionists that eating oranges is better than opting for a serving of squeezed juice.

This makes us worry about the nutritional benefits we are receiving from orange juice. But now scientists report that the picture is not clear, as in ACS’ Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

Packaged orange juice is definitely high in sugar, but scientists found that certain nutrients in orange juice might be easier for the body to absorb than when a person consumes them from raw, unprocessed fruit. Many people prefer to drink a glass of orange juice over eating the fruit, which can often be inconvenient while at work. Sugar content aside, are we getting equivalent health benefits from the glassful of orange nectar? The team of Ralf Schweiggert, Juian Aschoff and colleagues set out to answer that question.

What they found out was that the production of pasteurized orange juice slightly lowered the levels of carotenoids and vitamin C. At the same time, it significantly improved their bioaccessibility-i.e the amount our body can absorb and use. This study enlightens us with the knowledge that even though orange juice has low levels of flavonoids, they are much more accessible than directly eating orange. So now you know the answer the choice is completely yours; whether to bite into an orange or grab a juice glass.

It is interesting to note that the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines recommended moderate intakes of 100% fruit juice for kids. It says fruit juice can help children get the nutrients they need. So if your child refuses to carry an orange for a snack at school, it might not be too bad an idea to pack him a freshly squeezed glass of orange juice or unsweetened packaged juice either after all!

Contributed by Dr. Rachita Narsaria, MD

 

References:

1)Julian K. Aschoff, Sabrina Kaufmann, et al. In Vitro Bioaccessibility of Carotenoids, Flavonoids, and vitamin C from differently Processed Oranges and Orange Juices. Journal of Agricuture and Food Chemistry. 2015;63(2):578 DOI

2)www.whfoods.com

3)American Academy of Pediatrics: Committee on Nutrition. Paediatrics. 2001;107:1210-1213