Most Healthy Juice? This is the Dietitians’ No. 1 Pick

Are you trying to boost your fruit and vegetable intake but struggling to eat enough whole produce? Juice can be a convenient way to pack in plenty of nutrients from fresh fruits and veggies. But not all juices are created equal when it comes to healthfulness. Many store-bought varieties are loaded with added sugars and lack adequate fiber.

So what’s the healthiest juice choice according to nutrition experts? The answer may surprise you – it’s not a glamorous superfood or exotic blend, but rather good old-fashioned orange juice. Registered dietitians overwhelmingly recommend 100% orange juice as the top juice pick for several reasons.

“Orange juice is a nutrient powerhouse,” says certified functional nutritionist David Reinprecht. “It’s packed with vitamin C, potassium, folate and other essential nutrients, with no added sugars.” A 6-ounce glass contains over 100% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C.

Nutrient Amount (per 8 fl oz / 240 ml)
Calories 112
Total Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 3mg
Total Carbohydrates 26g
Dietary Fiber 0.5g
Total Sugars 21g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 124% DV
Folate 15% DV
Potassium 10% DV
Thiamin 10% DV
Vitamin B6 6% DV
Magnesium 6% DV

The Power of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that boosts immune function and aids in wound healing. It’s also needed for collagen production, which is important for healthy skin. Many Americans fall short in getting enough vitamin C from their diet.

A Healthier Sweet Treat

“Orange juice is also a healthier way to quench your thirst for something sweet and flavorful compared to sugary sodas and juices,” adds Zelman. Unlike many fruit juices and drinks with added sugars, orange juice naturally contains beneficial plant compounds like flavonoids and hesperidin that may help lower inflammation and reduce disease risk.

Convenient Fruit Serving

Another major selling point for 100% orange juice is its convenience and versatility. “It’s a great way to help people meet their daily fruit intake with just one glass,” says Amy Bragagnini, MS, RD, CSO. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 1-2 cups of fruit per day. Current intake data shows over 80% of Americans are not meeting fruit intake recommendations.

Orange juice can provide one fruit serving in a quick, portable format – no peeling or prepping required. “It’s an easy way for people to boost their fruit intake at breakfast, a meal where most of us fall short,” notes Bragagnini. Orange juice also makes for a tasty addition to smoothies or can be used in marinades and vinaigrette dressings.

Nutrient Absorption

While whole fruit is usually advised over juice for the fiber content, research shows the nutrients in 100% orange juice are just as bioavailable as those from eating an orange. “You absorb all of the beneficial plant nutrients in orange juice, minus a bit of the fiber,” explains Zelman. One cup of OJ still provides over 3 grams of fiber.

High in Potassium

Another advantage of orange juice over whole oranges is its higher potassium content, thanks to the fact that juicing concentrates the potassium amount. Potassium is an important mineral that most Americans lack enough of in their diets. It helps counteract the effects of sodium to lower blood pressure levels.

Choosing the Best Orange Juice

When choosing an orange juice product, registered dietitians recommend looking for 100% pure orange juice with no added sugars or artificial sweeteners on the ingredient label. Major orange juice brands like Tropicana, Florida’s Natural and Simply Orange offer a wide variety of pulp-free, some pulp and high pulp options in different sizes.

For those aiming to limit calorie and sugar intake, light orange juice varieties with roughly half the sugars and calories can also be a smart choice. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting juice intake for children to just 4-6 ounces per day to avoid excess calorie consumption. Children under 1 year old should not be given any juice.

Another important consideration is whether the juice is pasteurized or unpasteurized. Pasteurization uses heat treatment to kill potentially harmful bacteria, making juice safer to consume. Unpasteurized juices carry a higher food safety risk.

You can Also Consider these Juices

While orange juice reigns supreme in terms of healthfulness and nutrient density, a few other 100% fruit juices can provide some nutritional benefits in moderation as part of an overall balanced diet.

“Grapefruit juice contains vitamin C and some antioxidants. Just watch the portion sizes as it’s very tart,” notes Bragagnini. Red and purple juices like pomegranate, cranberry, acai and blueberry are rich in polyphenol antioxidants that may help fight inflammation and reduce disease risk, but tend to be quite high in natural sugars. Vegetable juices can help boost intake of vitamins and minerals as well.

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