Orange juice has been promoted as a healthy part of the classic American breakfast for about as long as anyone can remember. The iconic image used by the orange juice industry is one of a whole orange with a straw inserted into it, creating the illusion that drinking commercial orange juice is just like sucking the juice out of an orange right off the tree.
When the average consumer sees the words "100% Pure; Not from Concentrate" on a carton of orange juice, they're willing to pay a premium price, thinking that they're getting an even fresher and superior product than they can get from those frozen cans that require the addition of water.
Unfortunately, that's a far cry from reality. When you take a look at all of the orange juice facts and discover the whole story about the juice-making process, you may never buy commercial orange juice again.
First of all, let's examine the presumption that orange juice, even freshly-squeezed, is a healthy beverage.
A glass of juice, whether fresh-squeezed or not, has about eight full teaspoons of sugar per eight-ounce glass. This is about as much sugar as a can of soda.
The sugar in orange juice is typically a fruit sugar called fructose, which many mistakenly believe is a “healthy” form of sugar.
When the sugar is consumed in its natural form, with the whole fruit, the fiber in the orange tends to slow the absorption of sugar and thus prevents a spike in your insulin levels. When you drink just the juice, it's too much sugar, all at once, for your system to handle.
Elevated insulin levels are one of the primary drivers for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and weight gain. This may be why drinking fruit juice has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes, while fructose itself has been shown to increase your triglyceride levels.
Many popular orange juice brands are chemically altered so they can be stored year-round, thus ensuring a consistent availability and taste. This process starts by stripping the freshly-extracted juice of oxygen so it won't spoil as it sits in huge tanks for extended periods of time.
At the same time, this process also strips out all of the orange "essence," including the orange taste and smell. What you end up with is basically tasteless and odorless sugar water.
In order to restore this liquid back to "orange juice," manufacturers use cheaper and inferior-quality oranges from third-world countries, where agricultural regulations are often lax, and there's little oversight to minimize pesticides and other contaminants like mold. These inferior oranges are used for their orange "essence," which is extracted from the oranges and taken to the laboratory to create flavorings for orange juice products.
Why do commercial orange juices often taste "better" than fresh-squeezed? In the lab, the manufacturer breaks down the chemical composition of the essence and add chemicals such as ethyl butyrate to develop their own proprietary "flavor pack." These flavor packs are what give the particular orange juice its distinctive flavor and smell. These same laboratories are used to develop perfumes for the fragrance industry.
Manufacturers typically add more orange essence to the juice product than you would ever find in a real orange, giving their juice a stronger and sweeter taste than "fresh-squeezed" orange juice. These proprietary flavor packs are the reason why every glass of Minute Maid or Tropicana has its own distinct and consistent taste, year-round.
You know you are buying a heavily processed juice if the “Best Before” date is 60 or more days in the future. Real fresh-squeezed orange juice will only last for a few days.
So if you just don't want to go without your morning orange juice, squeezing your own at home or getting it from a fresh juice bar would be the only ways to get the real thing.
If you really enjoy drinking juice, there are better alternatives than commercially-processed juices that you find in your supermarket. Highest among my recommendations would be any one of the popular superfruit juices such as acai or goji berry, mangosteen and noni.
The Benefits of Antioxidant Superfruit Juices. Even if you're not a frequent juice drinker, there are several great reasons why you'd want to add one or more of these antioxidant juices to your daily routine:
1. One Ounce Equals Three Servings of Fruit. A single one-ounce serving gives you the antioxidant and nutritional benefits of three servings of common fruits, and you'll get far less sugar than you would in a full glass of ordinary juice.
2. Unique Phytonutrients and Antioxidants. These antioxidant juices contain unique phytonutrients and antioxidant properties not found in any other common fruit.
3. Avoid Pesticides. These antioxidant drinks are either organically-grown or wild-harvested, so you avoid the high levels of pesticides that are found in conventionally-grown fresh fruit.
4. Long Shelf-Life. You'll never run out of the benefits of fresh fruit because you didn't have time to go to the grocery store.
5. You Can Get Them Delivered Right to Your Door.
How can you beat that?
What do they taste like? Well... this is a personal thing, isn't it? People's opinions about the taste of these antioxidant drinks varies widely. I can guarantee you that they do all taste like fruit juices! A one-ounce serving can also be blended with any other beverage that you enjoy.
How Do You Choose? I recommend reading about these different antioxidant fruits elsewhere on this website, then choosing one or more based on the unique benefits each one offers. The phytonutrient and antioxidant content of these exotic juices are so valuable, it pays to get them into your daily routine any way you can.
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