I know at first, this will seem out right sacrilegious to many of you. After all, orange juice is right up there with mom, baseball, apple pie, and contains “a full day’s supply of vitamin C” in every serving, correct?
Yes, the vitamin C levels are non-disputable. In addition, orange juice has phytonutrients, and is also a good source of potassium and the B-vitamin folic acid.
Furthermore, I recommend oranges to most of my patients/clients as a great source of nutrition.
So how then, could orange juice possibly make you fat?
In order to fully understand, you must first know that most fruits (particularly oranges) have a lot of sugar. One orange contains approximately a 1/2 cup (4-oz) of juice, and about 4 grams of fiber. Within the contents of that juice and fiber is also about 17 grams of sugar.
Therefore, a typical 1/2 cup of orange juice has about 17 grams (4-teaspoons) of sugar.
Here’s where things get interesting.
Sugar, whether it comes from a snicker bar, or comes from an orange, breaks down in our body, and potentially causes serious health issues.
Among many other things, the problem with sugar is that it disrupts our hormones. If you think of our hormone system like a fine tuned car engine, sugar is like a couple wrenches we throw directly in the moving parts.
According to Dr BJ Hardick, Dr Ben Lerner, and Kimberly Roberto (2009), sugar causes “Swinging insulin and cortisol levels in the body, which decrease then increase blood sugar, not only cause your system to crash but set up a cascade of abnormal hormone functions that lead to premature aging and illness”.
In other words, it’s not necessarily the calories in sugar that hurt us (sugar has fewer calories per gram compared to many other foods), but rather the damage that sugar does to our hormone system.
Summed up: we eat sugary foods (like orange juice), our hormones get messed up, and we crave more sugary foods. This set up a perpetual cycle that makes us (and keeps us) fat.
Just how “sugary” is orange juice?
Again, as stated above, a 1/2 cup of orange juice has about 17 grams of sugar. In comparison, a snicker bar has about 29 grams of sugar.
Now here’s where things get funny–how many people do you see at your local diner that have a measley 1/2 cup of orange juice?! Most people get at least a full cup serving, and sometimes, more than that.
One full cup of orange juice then, has about 34 grams of sugar–more than a snicker bar, and more than a pack of Twinkies.
If you want to have trouble losing weight, keep drinking lots of orange juice
What, then, are some alternatives?
A couple options are ideal:
1. Try, wherever possible, to eat a whole orange instead of just the juice. The fiber in the orange contains nutrients that the juice doesn’t have, and mildly slows down the absorption of sugar into your body.
2. If you must drink orange juice, at least get it “with the pulp”. The pulp, again, contains the fiber and nutrients that the juice alone doesn’t have, and mildly slows down the sugar absorption into your body.
3. Replace 1/2 the amount of orange juice you’re going to drink with water (to a maximum of 4 oz juice). Add a teaspoon of the natural herb, stevia (tastes like sugar, and has negligible effect on blood sugar levels). This orange ‘drink’ allows you to still have the flavor of orange juice, while cutting the sugar consumption in half.
4. Cut down on the amount of orange juice you consume per meal. Ever see those annoyingly small glasses your parents or grandparents may have had? Those are “juice glasses”. They’re small for a reason–somehow, decades ago, our ancestors knew things that many of us have forgotten–that fruits, and juice in particular, should only be consumed in small amounts.
5. Never drink orange juice on an empty stomach. Having food with your orange juice helps to slow the absorption of the sugar into your stomach.
Oranges in small amounts can be great snacks. However, if not cautious in their consumption, can lead to many problems.
Hopefully, these tips will help yourself and the ones around you to live a healthier life. Until next time, wishing you all the best.
BTW-do you love this post? Find it mildly bothersome?
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Hardick, B.J, Roberto, K. Lerner, B. Maximized Living Nutrition Plans (2009).
Sugar Busters, H.L. Steward, M.C. Bethea, M.D., S.S. Andrews, M.D., L.A. Balart, M.D., Ballantine Books, 1998, p.19; U.S. Department of Agriculture.