The Truth About Orange Juice

Is Orange Juice Bad for Your Kids?!!

 

Many parents know that soda is unhealthy and not recommended for children or adults. But what about orange juice and other fruit juices? We know it’s very important healthwise to eat fruit every day, but do fruit juices deliver the same nutritional benefits?  The answer is:  NO!

 

Fruit juices are not recommended as substitutes for eating pieces of fresh fruit.  They are comparable to soda drinks in terms of the amount of sugar they contain. Even orange juice that we assume is “healthy” is not recommended for your children on a daily basis.

 

Why drinking orange juice is not like eating an orange?

 

When you squeeze juice from oranges and discard the rest, you lose some of the nutritional benefits of the whole orange, and you gain a few disadvantages as well:

 

  • Calories: An average orange has 60 calories. When you make fresh-squeezed orange juice, you need at least 3 oranges to fill a regular 8-ounce cup. That means you have about 180 calories in that regular cup! In the larger glasses frequently used in restaurants, the calories for that glass of orange juice could soar to 300 calories or more!
  • Not feeling full: If you drink orange juice, you will not feel as full as you would after eating the same amount of oranges. One cup of juice = 3 oranges! I don’t know many people who can eat much after eating 3 oranges, but after drinking a cup of orange juice you can definitely eat more food! It feels like you’re just getting started…
  • Dietary fiber: One of the nutritional benefits of eating oranges is missing from the juice — the dietary When you squeeze the juice, you throw away the fiber! Fiber is very important for a healthy digestive system.  It decreases absorption rate of sugar into the blood (lowering the risk of blood sugar “spikes”) and makes you feel full for a longer period of time. You definitely don’t want to lose the fiber!
  • Sugar: As I mentioned before, an orange contains about 60 calories, most of which come from sugar. Even if you make fresh-squeezed juice at home and it contains only “natural sugar” (as opposed to added sugar), the amount of sugar in one cup is still very high. A regular cup of orange juice can contain 10-11 teaspoons of sugar! That’s a lot even if it’s “natural”.
  • Vitamin C: Oranges are one of the best dietary sources of vitamin C. One orange contains the daily recommended amount of vitamin C. The problem is that vitamin C is destroyed when exposed to light, heat or oxygen. That is why you aren’t necessarily getting vitamin C when you drink pre-made orange juice. Even if you squeeze the juice at home, the vitamin C may be depleted if it takes 20 minutes from the time you made it until it’s consumed – the length of a typical child’s breakfast, for example.

 

How can I get my child to drink water instead of juice?

 

Adding slices of fruit to water adds a light, sweet taste without adding sugar. Try adding slices of different fruits such as orange, lemon, strawberry, watermelon, melon and more. Add one or two types of fruit at a time, not every kind of fruit at once! For a stronger flavor, add the fruit a few hours before your child will drink the water. You can even make it the night before, and let it “blend” in the fridge.

Also, you can find a wide variety of teas with a sweet taste derived from combinations of herbs, dried fruit and different kinds of leaves. In many cases, the sweetness in the tea will be light but tasty without containing any sugar. Even if your child wants to add one teaspoon of sugar to the tea, this is better than serving him a can of juice that has 8 teaspoons of sugar.

 


Yael Dror is a Pediatric Nutritionist. She holds a Master’s degree in Physiology from Tel Aviv University and a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and most importantly, Yael is a mother of 3 active children.  Yael is a former professional athlete and is a co-founder of Habitz.