How your Favorite Orange Juice is Making you Fat and Unhealthy

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Read time : 13 mins

The golden yellow elixir which is orange juice, sits pretty on your dining table. It demands its own space next to your breakfast. Orange Juice has never failed to evoke a sense of health and nutrition in the family and breakfast is seldom complete without it.

Thanks to TV and Media which never fails to keep us informed about “healthy stuff” in their deceitful ways.

In this piece I present a brief history of orange juice, how it’s made, the impact of commercials on our minds, the nutrition label, Health concerns, and some myths and facts re-looked.

Use this table of content to jump between sections.

World War 2 and Orange Juice

We owe much of the convenience that we enjoy today to the technologies developed during the World War. And OJ is one of the developments that put it as a staple food on the breakfast table. 

Juicing was nothing new, it was done in the 1930s and 40’s when freshly squeezed juice was canned, frozen, and shipped. Since the soldiers were overseas they didn’t have the means for a regular breakfast and scurvy, a disease caused due to Vitamin C deficiency, was prevalent.

Hence the US soldiers needed tons of orange juice to keep up their health. But the problem with canned and frozen juice was transporting it over a longer distance, and by the time it reached ones hands it was already unworthy of being edible.

To overcome this issue, in 1946 nutrition scientists came up with a method of concentrating orange juice at low temperatures. By then it was too late since the war ended in 1945.

That didn’t stop the development of concentrated juice because the soldiers would return to start a family and with access to refrigeration in households, the convenience of concentrated OJ caught on.

Ads and Media Misinterpretation

A quick internet search for “breakfast juice” yields tons of results often in the form of Health and Food Blogs. Surprisingly all these blogs promote fresh hand squeezed fruit juice, but how many find time to read about what they eat?

Enter TV Ads, a powerful programming tool that can engrave our subconscious mind with inadequate, deceitful information day in and day out.

When you see that stream of golden yellow liquid fill up a glass you visualize it as healthy and your mind registers it as healthy. Which is oblivious to the fact of how different the juice in the box is compared to freshly squeezed juice.

lady drinking orange juice from a glass with straw

Most people skim through headlines and it’s always the same old piece especially in the health section about honey is good and papaya being great.

And when you read intriguing headlines that shout “ No need to cut Sugar to lose weight” only a few take the time to read the full story. Most of us take it literally and believe sugar is good. Because the news appeared on a popular magazine or paper, it must be true. Such is the effect of subconscious programming!

In the lust for ratings and profits, medias employs this sick tactic of deliberately quoting things that often misinforms consumers. Why not? it’s always nice to hear good things about one’s bad habits right?

Nutrition Label Nuances

nutritional facts label vimalmohanblogs

Honestly, how many of us pay attention to labels? We go to malls and supermarkets to shop, not to read, right? The Food Safety authorities can only enforce to make the labels easy to read with relevant information and that’s about it.

Nutrition labels are boring pieces of information stamped on products. I haven’t heard anyone say “Hey, this label is easy on the eyes and also has lots of information, it’s a great read”

Here are some of the information usually found on labels that leaves one scratching the head.

100%. Natural. Real. Really?

Does this look familiar? 100% Juice. 100% Natural. 100% orange juice. It’s everywhere
and strategically placed on food products to convince consumers they are buying healthy products. Sure sounds assuring!

It’s so engraved in our belief system that the products that end up in our cart are more likely to have the “100%” or “natural” tag.

Nutrition value Per 100gms/per 4 fl Oz

All nutritional values are mentioned as per 100gms or 4 Oz for example.
And as ignorant consumers we don’t realize that the sugar content of a 16 ounce container is 4 times the quantity mentioned on the label.

I mean, we go to the supermarket to shop not to do math?

Artificial, Natural Flavor and Nature identical flavoring, wait what?

To put it in simple words, this means it’s an artificially produced or derived flavor.

Manufacturers never disclose the actual ingredients that are part of their secret ingredient mix that results in their unique flavor.

In addition, disclosing such information might jeopardize their profits or spook consumers with all the chemicals used as preservatives.

One example is their secret flavor pack used in OJ. It is also a reason why different brands have different taste that is consistent every time.

Added sugar, US vs India

Some of the US made juice does not have added sugar. While in India, most juices have sugar added to them, which is evident from the nutrition label.

This could be because manufacturers use Nagpur orange, an Indian variety that’s smaller and has less sweetness when compared to Florida or Brazil oranges.
Another reason for adding sugar is cost. Sugar is cheaper compared to adding more of the juice concentrate.

The message from labels?

“Dear consumer if you fail to pay attention to
details and the warnings on labels, it’s on you!”

How Orange Juice is made?

Have you ever wondered how orange juice is made in a factory?
The process may be similar for any juice.

What’s the big deal? Just take some fresh oranges peel them and then squeeze the juice in the box, add preservatives, seal it and send it to your supermarket Right?

Here’s a quick summary of one of the method used to make orange juice in a factory.

1. Extraction: Fresh oranges are cleaned and sent to the extractors where the peels are removed and juice is extracted.

2. Evaporation: Water content and oxygen from the extracted juice is removed in the evaporator which also removes taste, flavor and vitamin C. The result is OJ concentrate.

3. Storage: The concentrate is stored for up to a year in huge tanks at low temperatures. This is possible since the removal of oxygen prevents microbial activity.
(now you know how OJ is available throughout the year.)

4. Reconstitute: Water is added to the concentrated juice along with additives like sugar, Flavor and Preservatives, etc. and sometimes some fresh juice may be added.

5. Pasteurization :The resulting juice is pasteurized (at 95 dec C) for about 30 seconds and is filled in sterile container or juice box.

Finally, the juice is stored for transport and consumption.

OJ made by this method can be stored without refrigeration for about 6 months.

Carbon footprint – Transport and Storage Energy consumption

Unlike whole oranges, transporting orange juice concentrate needs special cooling infrastructure like food grade containers and special trucks with freezers. Imagine the amount of trucks and energy spent by means of fuel burnt and the carbon footprint associated with it. Also, the Cost incurred as a result of cold storage and transport is passed on to consumers.

Health Concerns

We are responsible for our health, and to that end we try all the tricks when it comes to healthy eating. Thanks to juice, it works as a supplement or a snack when one runs short of a full meal or when one is busy to spare time to eat!

By now It should be apparent, the juice box is not the savior you hoped, to bring good health to your children and switching to freshly squeezed juice is wise.

Metabolic Disorder and Visceral Fat Accumulation

A 2012 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that people who ate more fructose (sweetness in fruits) experienced severe decreases in metabolic rate. Metabolism is the body’s ability to convert food (blood glucose) to energy which is needed for cells and tissues.

The study also states, “It is understood that the high fructose content of certain fruit juices contributes to insulin resistance as well as a build-up of belly fat. For this reason, sugar-containing fruit juices have long been recognized as a risk for the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes.“

Trivia: It takes around 13 – 15 oranges to make one liter of juice. 

And it’s easy to drink too much of it compared to eating the whole fruit.
By the way, how many oranges can you eat?

Juicing Myths and Facts from around the web

Let me address some common myths and facts you would find on health blogs.
And I suggest readers to always cross check facts before blindly believing such information, especially when the main intent of the article is to promote juicing or particular brand.

Juicing helps lose weight

OK, By how much? This is subjective and not quantifiable.

In addition juicing alone will not help in healthy FAT loss and it’s not sustainable. In the absence of carbs, protein, fat and fiber you will overload the body with nutrients whilst starving, because juice cannot keep one full.

So Juicing should not be done in the context of FAT loss rather one should eat whole fruits.

It cleanses your body – Detox

Not exactly. Juicing doesn’t detox.

The liver works all the time in detoxing – making the necessary chemicals that works to remove toxins from the body.
Vitamins and minerals in the juice supply the liver and other parts of the body with nutrients required for their optimal functioning.

It provides vitamin better than whole fruits

Again better is subjective and non quantifiable. Also it’s not true.

Because juice is only a part of the fruit. So you are missing out on fiber in the pulp and a lot of it is wasted therefore it can never be better than consuming fruits as is.

Juice has too much sugar

Not exactly.
Juicing has comparatively less sugar because some of it is left behind in the pulp. But since juice is easy to consume, the chances of over drinking result in greater intake of sugar which may be detrimental to health.

The kidney has to process all the extra vitamins and minerals. And the pancreas has to work hard to pump insulin. Insulin works as a key that opens up cells where glucose is absorbed.

Excess glucose in the blood gets stored as Fat.

Body absorbs nutrients better from juicing

Human body is designed to absorb nutrients from whole fruits and vegetables and can process fiber. Our Body doesn’t need any help from outside. It needs those essential fibers for the upkeep of the gut health.

Closing shot

Consuming whole fruits is simpler and the natural way to do it.

Some of the digestive enzymes are produced in the saliva. Depending on the food these enzymes produced are also different! In fact, digestion starts in the mouth when food is being chewed. So chewing well aids in better digestion.

Heard of chewing food 24 times before swallowing?
This is part of the adage “Chew your water and drink your food”!

I can’t go beyond 20. You?

We have seen how Factory made juice employs a lot of processing that involves evaporation, concentration, reconstitution, heating, freezing, sterilization, and so on.
The artificial flavors, preservatives, and those secret ingredients only raise concerns for our health from the detrimental effects of Fat gain and associated chronic illness.

Also, take into account the mess from juicing, wasted pulp/fiber, dirty dishes, soap, water, electricity, and time.

Moreover, juicing is no better than eating the whole fruit, it’s a reason for overconsumption. And too much orange juice means too much vitamin C going down the drain besides unnecessarily stressing the kidneys.

Also, I am OK with making lemonade, I like it, but when life gives you oranges, just eat it.

Factory made juice is a poison in disguise that jeopardizes your fat loss efforts.

  • How do you feel about Orange Juice after reading this?
  • Do you add sugar to your freshly squeezed juice?

Please share in the comments.

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Have great health!


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