Which is better for you – oranges, or orange juice? Is there a real difference?
It’s a good question, and the answer isn’t really clear-cut.
Oranges are among the healthiest of natural foods. They contain vitamins, minerals, and compounds such as carotenoids and flavonoids which are linked to disease prevention. When it comes to juice vs. fruit, the research has some interesting observations.
- Eating the whole fruit adds fiber to the other nutrient content.
- When eating the fruit, you also have the opportunity to use the zest, which contains even more highly concentrated nutrients and phytochemicals.
- Drinking orange juice, especially commercially prepared varieties, can spike blood sugar levels more quickly than eating the whole fruit.
- Store-bought juice contains a lot of fructose – almost as much as a comparable volume of sodas.
- An 8-ounce glass of orange juice typically contains as many calories as two oranges.
- The liquid sugars in juice are more quickly digested, and will be less filling than eating the fruit.
According to one study, the nutrients from oranges that have been chopped or juiced was more easily absorbed into the body. Pasteurization is another level of processing added to store-bought juices.
- Pasteurization of orange juice lowers the levels of carotenoids and vitamin C slightly – however, at the same time, juicing make those compounds easier for the body to absorb.
- In the case of carotenoids, the release went from 11% in fruit to 28% in the homemade juice, then up to 39.5% in the pasteurized juice.
- The same was true of flavonoids – the content was significantly lowered by pasteurization, but what remains is much more easily absorbed into the bloodstream.
- Flavonoid intake went up nearly 5 times with either juice as compared to the fruit.
There’s an easy answer to the question, in the end: consume both whole oranges and orange juice to get the most out of the nutritional boost.