In 2010, a book called Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice, showed up in stores (it’s by Alissa Hamilton). It exposed commercial orange juice practices, which included surprising processing methods — including added flavor packs, and also enzyme control. Even today, few people seem to know about it.
Later, in 2011, pop-science magazine Gizmodo began spreading the word:
“Once the juice is squeezed and stored in gigantic vats, they start removing oxygen. Why? Because removing oxygen from the juice allows the liquid to keep for up to a year without spoiling. But! Removing that oxygen also removes the natural flavors of oranges. Yeah, it’s all backwards. So in order to have OJ actually taste like oranges, drink companies hire flavor and fragrance companies, the same ones that make perfumes for Dior, to create these “flavor packs” to make juice taste like, well, juice again.
Any taste difference in say Minute Maid versus Tropicana is therefore due to the specific flavor pack the company uses. Since these flavor packs are made from orange byproducts, they don’t have to be considered an ingredient, and therefore are not required to appear on food labels. This is despite the fact they are chemically altered.”
How did it all come to this?! Thankfully, not all companies follow these practices — and most juice bars feature ‘fresh squeezed (or “cold pressed”) juice!
Raw, fresh-squeezed is best.
It’s really a shame that this amount of processing has taken over the industry, because such practices completely negate the wonders of fresh orange juice!
The link between Vitamin C and Oranges (and citrus in general) is well known. In the 1600s through the Second World War, its role in preventing scurvy gave the British Naval sailors the endearing nickname “limey.” It’s very easy to forget that people once actually died from Vitamin C deficiencies (indeed, my Great-Grandmother Askie died from scurvy), but limes and lemons were for centuries very important to keeping the health of the navy in “ship-shape.”
Vitamin C also plays a role in the formation of collagen, which you need to maintain healthy, youthful-looking skin. And, interestingly, there seems to be something in oranges that uniquely suppresses UVB‐induced photo-aging and wrinkle formation! It seems that some that protects oranges from the sun protects us, also! Isn’t nature smart?
Most dietary recommendations for Vitamin C intake are not actually of the therapeutic or regenerative quantity – at just 60mg daily, one nutritionist tells me that it’s “JUST ENOUGH” Vitamin C to make sure we don’t fall into the scurvy range (scary!). So, it’s important for you to know your body, and work with a your nutritionist and health-care team to assess what your body needs.
So, if you’re not getting your Vitamin C everyday (it’s water-soluble, and so needs to consumed daily), you’re might be closer to scurvy’s grasp than you may think (link to watermelon article). Sadly, some speculate that the return of scurvy-like conditions in modern (over-eating and under-nourished)society might be playing a role in the trend towards gluten sensitivity as well.
Orange Juice and Metabolism
Shenever you deprive your body of its most basic needs, you are also starving yourself of building blocks needed to create all kinds of necessary components that make your body and brain run their best!
When your body doesn’t get what it needs, it adapts. And it copes the best way it knows how in order to keep you upright and on the move: it raises your stress hormone productions – cortisol, adrenaline, and the like.
These stress horemones contribute directly to fat gain.
But guess what? Fresh orange juice is anti-inflammatory and promotes positive metabolic affects, even after high saturated-fat meals. For example, a study in 2013 concludes “orange juice could be a dietary feature for prevention and treatment of chronic diseases . . .”
Real orange juice can reduce the levels of “bad” cholesterol, balance blood pressure, and perfect for preventing colds. It can also help perfect your digestive process.
Is It All About the Naringenin?
A study in 2005 showed that “[Orange juice] contains an array of potent antioxidants including flavonoids (hesperetin and naringenin predominantly as glycosides), carotenoids (xanthophylls, cryptoxanthins, carotenes), and vitamin C in addition to other beneficial phytochemicals, such as folate. All of these are believed to be significant contributors to the preventive effects of fruits and vegetables against cancer and heart disease”
In fact, Naringenin is the predominant flavanoid in citrus: oranges, lemon, grapefruit, possess pharmacological activities, that positively modulate the immune system. And, according to one study “naringenin reduced TGF-β1 levels in fibrotic microenvironments and prevented fibrosis-induced lung metastasis.”
Here’s Where YOU Can Help, Dear Reader . . . become a health detective
For two years, I’ve scoured the internet seeking sources that can back up the health and benefit claims of fruits, vegetables, and supplements (sometimes called “boost”).
In the chart below are the health claims I and others have discovered about oranges. Where you see a footnote, you’ll find a link to the source. If there is not a footnote, then that means that the specific health claim is made, but neither I or anyone I know has been able to locate sources of research or anecdote to backup the claim.
So, if you are aware of a direct source of research or anecdotes to back up the claims, please post them in the comments. I’ll check them out and if they meet our standards, I’ll make sure that they’re included in the next edition of the blog and give you a shout-out!
Reported Health Benefit Claims of Orange:
|Helps Alzheimer's disease||Assists against Crohn's disease|
|Improves immune system||
Helps prevent diabetes
|Helps with ear infection|
|Helps prevent asthma||Fights gingivitis|
|Lowers blood pressure||Improves heart health|
|Lowers blood sugar||Helps against osteosclerosis|
Prevents some forms of cancer 
|Helps against Parkinson's disease|
|Improves cardiovascular health||Helps against Rheumatoid arthritis|
Promotes healthy skin 
So, enjoy some OJ today — as long as its cold-pressed or fresh-squeezed!
Factoid: Some people actually google: “how much protein in orange juice” – (the answer is .06-1.7g) – but they’re missing the point entirely. Protein is not the universal savior.
- Critical Review Food Science & Nutrition. 2015 Apr 1:0. 100% Citrus Juice: Nutritional Contribution, Dietary Benefits, and Association with Anthropometric Measures. Rampersaud GC1, Valim MF.
- Wolf, Barney. Bringing the Juice. Health benefits help provide interest in juice drinks and smoothies. Quick Service Magazine. Feb 2013.