A Western breakfast typically starts off with a glass of orange juice. The orange juice commercials on TV have done a great job of convincing us that orange juice is very high in vitamin C and should be drunk as part of every healthy breakfast, and that orange juice is the best source of vitamin C. How true are these claims?
How is bottled orange juice made?
Did you know that Tropicana orange juice is owned by PepsiCo.? Tropicana makes up 65% of the orange juice market share in the U.S. Producing juice that is not from concentrate involves storing it in large vats for up to a year and pasteurizing it by removing oxygen, which also removes flavour. Once the juice is ready for packaging, artificial flavours are added to it to restore the flavours removed during storage. These flavours are not required to be included in the ingredients list on the packaging.
During the pasteurization process, naturally occurring Vitamin C is destroyed, so it is added back during processing. Calcium may also be added, as well as Vitamin D, which isn’t found in oranges. Water may be removed from the juice to reduce its weight to save on transportation costs. So much for drinking juice straight from an orange!
How much sugar is in a glass of orange juice?
What about sugar content? Let’s compare the amount of sugar in a can of Pepsi with the amount of sugar in an equal volume of orange juice.
A 12 oz can of Pepsi contains 41 g of sugar and 150 calories.
Here’s how much sugar that is:
The same amount of orange juice contains 30 g of sugar and 159 calories.
Why not just drink Pepsi?
Orange juice is still healthier than Pepsi because it contains other nutrients besides Vitamin C, such as B vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. Also, orange juice contains natural sugars as opposed to high-fructose corn syrup found in regular Pepsi. However, if you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a balanced energy level all day, drinking a tall glass of orange juice is not much different than drinking a can of Pepsi because of the sugar content.
Here’s the problem: Drinking orange juice causes your blood sugar to spike moderately. Let’s compare the glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) of orange juice and Pepsi. Glycemic index is how much sugar is in a food compared with glucose. A value of 55 or less is low. Glycemic load is how much a serving of the food raises blood sugar. A value of 10 or less is low. Here’s how orange juice and Pepsi compare.
Orange juice: GI = 46 (low), GL = 12 (medium)
Pepsi: GI = 58 (medium), GL = 15 (medium)
So, orange juice contains less sugar than Pepsi but it causes an only slightly lower spike in blood sugar than Pepsi does. The reason why is the lack of fibre. Squeezing juice out of the orange removes all the fibre, which speeds up how quickly its sugar content enters the bloodstream.
What’s the alternative?
Orange juice has many health benefits because of its high nutrient content. To maximize the benefits of orange juice, it is best to drink it freshly squeezed, using one orange per serving. Even better, just eat the orange. That way, you’ll include the fibre and won’t have to worry about the effects on your blood sugar.