Comments From the Field on Orange Juice

OrangeimagesMy Product Developments column in November spoke about organic foods and beverages market sparked an email from the Florida Department of Citrus' Gail C. Rampersaud, MS, RDN, LDN, an associate in Nutrition Research and Education Food Science and Human Nutrition Department Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.

Rampersaud responded to a mention in the story about orange juice, and its changing status from being a breakfast mainstay to its slowing sales and its evolution in the organic market with organic, lower-calorie/lower-sugar orange juice blends. The column stated that orange juice has fallen out of favor in some -- not all -- homes for its high carbs, calories and sugar.

Rampersaud said she appreciates our reporting on consumer trends in organic foods, especially given the growing importance of mindful eating for individuals looking to make healthier choices for themselves and their families. But she was concerned with my comments about orange juice being high in carbohydrates, calories and sugar content, and that the drink has fallen out of favor for breakfast.

My statements were based on information from The Wall Street Journal and other reports about the weakening orange juice market. The WSJ mentioned in an August 2015 report that analysts and traders think orange juice's sales slump may be due to newer entrants in the beverage aisle, including more-exotic fruit juices, such as pomegranate, energy drinks and ready-to-drink coffee, grabbing a greater share of the market. Higher prices for orange juice on grocery-store shelves also have discouraged consumers, the report added.

Rampersaud points out the following: "I want to provide you with a perhaps more balanced perspective about 100-percent orange juice for your consideration," she stated. "While not all juices are created equal, 100-percent Florida orange juice has numerous benefits including:

  • It contains no added sugar; only natural sugars present in the juice when squeezed from the orange.
  • It provides a substantial number of nutrients per calorie including vitamin C (an 8-oz. glass provides 100 percent or more of the Daily Value), folate, thiamin, and potassium.
  • It is associated with better overall diet quality in adults and children.

Importantly, emerging research also suggests that the consumption of 100 percent orange juice with its intrinsic sugars does not result in detrimental health effects sometimes associated with the intakes of excess added sugars (e.g., increased plasma glucose/insulin, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance).

Like all foods and beverages that provide calories, 100 percent juices should be consumed in appropriate amounts that fit with an individual’s overall diet. With that in mind, I firmly believe it’s important not to overlook all of the nutritional benefits 100 percent orange juice can provide."

Nutrition Facts panels do list a 248-g. serving of raw orange juice as having 112 calories, 21g of sugar, 26g of total carbohydrates (or 9 percent of the Recommended Daily Value for a 2,000-calorie diet) and 4 calories from fat.

While some think it's best to eat an actual orange instead of drink orange juice, organic or otherwise, there's major debate on that too, since juices may not have the fiber the whole fruit has, but studies are showing orange juice might actually unlock more carotenoids and flavonoids – both beneficial phytonutrients — than an equivalent amount of fruit (the findings appear in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry).

Thanks so much to Ms. Rampersaud for the information. For much more and updated research on orange juice and more, visit www.floridajuice.com.