What does 1 glass of orange juice do for you?

Orange juice is a popular beverage enjoyed by many around the world. Known for its delicious taste and vitamin C content, a glass of orange juice can provide a range of health benefits. In this article, we’ll explore what happens to your body when you drink a standard 8 ounce (240 ml) glass of orange juice.

Provides Vitamin C

One of the best known benefits of orange juice is its high vitamin C content. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water soluble antioxidant that plays numerous roles in the body.

A standard 8 ounce (240 ml) glass of orange juice contains around 93 mg of vitamin C, which equates to over 100% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI). The RDI is the daily amount recommended to meet the needs of 97-98% of healthy individuals.

Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, protecting your cells from damage caused by free radicals. It’s also involved in processes like immune function, collagen production, tissue repair, iron absorption, and formation of certain brain signaling molecules.

Due to its antioxidant properties, adequate vitamin C intake has been associated with a reduced risk of certain chronic diseases, including heart disease and certain cancers.

Provides Potassium

Orange juice is a good source of potassium, an important mineral and electrolyte. Potassium helps regulate fluid balance, muscle contractions, nerve signals, and blood pressure.

An 8 ounce (240 ml) glass of orange juice contains around 348 mg of potassium. This equates to around 7% of the 4,700 mg RDI for potassium.

Most people don’t get enough potassium in their diets. Eating foods high in potassium, like orange juice, can help maintain normal blood pressure levels.

Contains Antioxidants

Oranges are high in various antioxidants, beneficial plant compounds that help fight oxidative damage caused by free radicals. The main antioxidants in oranges and orange juice include:

  • Vitamin C: As mentioned, vitamin C is a powerful, water-soluble antioxidant.
  • Beta-cryptoxanthin: A carotenoid antioxidant that may lower the risk of certain cancers.
  • Anthocyanins: Water-soluble pigments in the fruit’s pulp that have antioxidant properties.
  • Hesperidin: Found mainly in the peel and membranous parts of oranges, hesperidin has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cholesterol-lowering effects.

Antioxidants help defend your cells from damage that can lead to increased disease risk. Therefore, eating antioxidant-rich foods like oranges and orange juice may provide health benefits.

Contains Folate

Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is an important water-soluble B vitamin. It plays key roles in cell growth and metabolism.

One glass of orange juice (240 ml) provides around 23% of the RDI for folate, at around 54 mcg.

Folate is especially important for pregnant women. Adequate folate intake during pregnancy can help prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida.

Counts Toward Fruit Intake

One 8 ounce (240 ml) glass of orange juice counts as 1 cup (240 ml) from the Fruit Group, based on United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines.

Current USDA guidelines recommend getting 1.5-2 cups (360–480 ml) per day of fruit to help meet nutrient needs.

As orange juice counts toward total fruit intake, one glass provides almost half of the daily recommended minimum fruit requirement.

Contains Phytonutrients

Alongside vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, orange juice contains plant compounds called phytonutrients.

Research shows that phytonutrients in citrus fruits, including oranges, may help:

  • Prevent the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol. Oxidized LDL cholesterol can promote plaque buildup in your arteries.
  • Protect cells from damage that can lead to heart disease and certain cancers.
  • Prevent kidney stones.
  • Support your immune system.

While researchers still don’t fully understand the health effects of phytonutrients, eating phytonutrient-rich foods like oranges is likely beneficial.

Contains Choline

Orange juice also contains some choline, an essential nutrient that many people don’t get enough of.

Choline is required to make acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in memory, mood, muscle control, and other brain and nervous system functions. It also helps transport cholesterol from your liver.

An 8 ounce (240 ml) glass of orange juice provides around 3% of the RDI for choline, at 7.5 mg.

While this might not seem like much, every little bit helps. Over 90% of Americans eat less choline than recommended.

Provides B Vitamins

Orange juice contains small amounts of several B vitamins, including:

  • Thiamine: 4% of the RDI
  • Riboflavin: 5% of the RDI
  • Niacin: 2% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 5% of the RDI

These vitamins help convert food into energy and play key roles in metabolism, brain function, and making DNA.

Contains Some Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in your body. It’s vital for energy production, muscle and nerve function, blood sugar control, and more.

One glass of orange juice provides around 5% of the RDI for magnesium, at 13 mg.

May Boost Heart Health

Dr. Gunter Kuhnle, a leading authority on antioxidants and nutrition and, Professor at the University of Reading added:

“Fruit and vegetables have long been recognised as an essential part of a healthy diet, and we know they reduce the risks of disease. What makes fruit and vegetables so important though isn’t just vitamins and minerals, but also the huge range of plant chemicals they contain – known as phytochemicals. Our research has given us fascinating results showing how phytochemicals from orange juice can dampen down inflammation, protect LDL cholesterol from being turned into a heart-damaging form and improve blood vessel function. While these benefits are also similar in certain green juices and some smoothies, only orange juice contains the unique combination of antioxidants that have this real heart health potential.”

May Lower Blood Pressure

Drinking orange juice may benefit blood pressure levels. This is likely due to its mix of antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium, and other plant compounds.

One review looked at randomized controlled trials including over 500 people with and without high blood pressure. Drinking orange juice significantly lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number) in both groups.

Another study in healthy middle-aged men found that consuming 500 ml (approximately 17 ounces) of orange juice daily for four weeks significantly reduced diastolic blood pressure (bottom number).

May Reduce Inflammation

Orange juice has anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is linked to many chronic diseases.

Test-tube studies suggest that citrus flavonoids — including hesperidin in oranges — can help reduce inflammatory markers like cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX).

Chronic inflammation plays a central role in conditions like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and obesity.

More human research is needed, but orange juice’s anti-inflammatory properties could provide health benefits.

May Help Prevent Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are hardened deposits of minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys. They can be extremely painful.

Citrus fruits, particularly orange juice, may help prevent kidney stones. This is mainly due to their citric acid content.

One large observational study in over 200,000 people found that consuming just one serving per day of citrus fruits or juices lowered the risk of kidney stones by up to 12%.

Easy to Add to Your Diet

Orange juice is widely available and can be an easy way to help meet daily fruit and nutrient needs.

It can be enjoyed on its own as a beverage, added to smoothies, or used as an ingredient in various recipes.

To get the most benefits, choose 100% orange juice and avoid added sugars. Also, drink it in moderation. While orange juice provides benefits, it’s lower in fiber yet high in calories and easy to overconsume.

Downsides to Consider

Despite its benefits, there are some downsides to drinking orange juice that should be considered:

  • Low in fiber: Orange juice contains little to no fiber, unlike whole oranges. Fiber helps manage blood sugar spikes.
  • May spike blood sugar: The natural sugars in orange juice can spike blood sugar levels. This may be a concern for diabetics or prediabetics.
  • Acidity: While orange juice’s acidity is less than that of other citrus juices like grapefruit juice, its pH is still quite low. This acidity could contribute to heartburn.
  • May interact with medications: Compounds in orange juice may interact with certain drugs. Talk to your healthcare provider if you take medications.

Overall, orange juice is high in calories and sugar compared to whole oranges or orange slices. Therefore, it should be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

The Bottom Line

Orange juice provides an array of vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds that can benefit your health when consumed as part of a balanced diet.

Just one 8-ounce (240-ml) glass packs over 100% of your daily vitamin C needs, plus folate, potassium, antioxidants, and more.

Drinking orange juice in moderation may promote heart health, lower inflammation, help prevent kidney stones, and more.

While orange juice can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet, try sticking to no more than one glass per day to minimize its sugar content.

Additionally, pair orange juice with sources of fiber, protein, and healthy fats to help slow its absorption and provide a steadier energy source.

Overall, orange juice can provide a range of benefits as long as it’s consumed responsibly as part of a varied, balanced diet.

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