Whether you typically start your morning by uncapping a carton of OJ or make your own fresh-squeezed version on weekends, orange juice is a tasty part of many people’s breakfast routines. While you may recognize the popular drink as an excellent source of vitamin C—frequently packing more than the recommended daily allowance of the nutrient in every cup—that’s not all you’re getting with every sip. You may be aware that orange juice is particularly high in sugar—albeit, generally just natural sugar from oranges—which may have you wondering if orange juice is good for you.
Before you pour yourself another glass of this golden elixir, read on to discover some of the benefits along with the potential side effects that can stem from drinking orange juice, according to science. And for more tips to help you make a well-informed beverage choice at breakfast time, be sure also to check out Is Milk Good For You? 6 Effects of Drinking It.
A look at OJ’s nutrition content
“Orange juice may be known for its vitamin C content and as a hydrating beverage that people reach for when they are sick, but this drink is so much more than a vessel for vitamin C,” explains Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, registered dietitian and author of The First Time Mom’s Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility. “It contains other key nutrients, including folate and potassium. Plus, it contains a unique plant compound called hesperidin, which may help support healthy blood pressure and other positive heart health outcomes.”
According to the USDA, when you’re drinking 1 cup of standard, 100% juice orange juice sans pulp, you’re nourishing your body with:
- 110 calories
- 26 grams of carbs
- 23 grams of sugar
- 0 grams of fiber
- 2 grams of protein
- 72 milligrams of vitamin C (120% DV)
- 0.12 milligrams of vitamin B6 (6% DV)
- 14.4 milligrams of calcium (2% DV)
Is orange juice good for you?
Though orange juice is primarily comprised of nutrient-dense fruit, not all juices are created equally—especially if considering the variety of mass-manufactured juice brands currently lining the aisles of local grocery stores.
Manaker claims that “100% orange juice can absolutely be a part of a balanced and healthy diet.”
While some brands of store-bought orange juice are comprised of quality ingredients and 100% orange juice contains no added sugars at all, others can be riddled with added sugars on top of the already high concentration of natural sugars. In turn, this can really up the calorie count of your OJ.
“[Orange juice] does contain a source of carbohydrates in the form of sugar; however, [100% orange juice] does not contain added sugars—and you can buy it with pulp for a small boost in fiber,” explains Caroline Thomason, RD, CDCES, a northern Virginia-based dietitian.
The key to finding the best orange juice that will serve your body well? Pay attention to all the labels and read the nutrition info. According to Manaker, you should also “opt for a beverage that is made with 100% juice, and not an orange ‘drink’ that is made with added sugars.”
“Look for labels that say ‘no added sugar’ or ‘with pulp’ for the most nutritious option,” says Thomason. “You can also find options with half the sugar if you are carb-conscious. For example, Simply Light Orange Juice makes a great low-sugar option.”
For a healthy approach to incorporating orange juice into your diet, Thomason suggests that you “consider how much total juice you consume in a day, and balance your OJ with protein, fiber, and healthy fat to feel full and satisfied.”