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If you had breakfast this morning, there’s a good chance you included a glass of vitamin C, antioxidants and fiber. It was all in your orange juice. Aside from being the most common fruit juice in America and an icon of the breakfast table, there are many health benefits of orange juice. Even with its popularity, these benefits are not always well understood, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service found.

Vitamin C

As most people already know, orange juice is an important source of vitamin C. But what they may not know is just how potent the juice is in delivering the essential antioxidant. Drinking two glasses of orange juice a day increases the body’s vitamin C content by up to 64 percent.

Orange juice is beneficial because of the protective effects it has on the body. A study conducted by Italian nutrition researchers found that subjects who received vitamin C through orange juice had better protection against damaging elements than those who were given a water solution fortified with vitamin C. With just one glass of orange juice providing 116.2 percent of the daily value for vitamin C, it is also an easy and cost-effective way of getting a dose of protection with breakfast.

Oranges and health benefits of orange juice

Other Orange Juice Health Benefits

Orange juice taken with a high-carbohydrate, high-fat meal—which describes the average breakfast for most Americans—has been found to be a good protection against inflammation. A study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a link between orange juice consumption and an improvement in diastolic blood pressure. This happens because of a certain plant pigment found in orange juice which improves activity in blood vessels. Orange juice has also been shown to reduce the levels of “bad” cholesterol in patients with high cholesterol, though the exact reason why has not been determined and more studies are being conducted.

Another health benefit comes from orange juice’s high fiber content, one of the key factors behind its ability to reduce cholesterol. Fiber also keeps blood sugar levels in control, making it a healthy choice for individuals with diabetes. It also helps keep cancer-causing chemicals from gathering in the colon, and reduces instances of constipation or diarrhea among individuals with irritable bowel syndrome.

For Americans who often perform woefully on meeting daily nutrition recommendations, orange juice can be an easy way to a healthier diet. An estimated 70 percent of Americans do not meet these requirements, but a four ounce serving of orange juice counts as a full serving of fruit.

Great for Children

Once thought to be bad for children because of its natural sugar content, which was believed to lead to obesity, orange juice has shown to be an important part of the adolescent diet. A study published in Nutrition Research in 2011 showed that for children between ages two and 18, drinking 100 percent orange juice improves diet quality and nutrient adequacy. Using data from the three-year national survey, this study found higher intake of potassium, dietary fiber, potassium and vitamins C and B6 among children who consumed percent orange juice. Of the children in this group, none tested below the Estimated Average Requirement for vitamin C, but 30 percent of children who did not drink orange juice fell below this requirement. For children who consume drinks with a high content of high fructose corn syrup, orange juice is a healthy and delicious alternative.

This study also discounted the idea that orange juice leads to higher risk of overweight and obesity among children. In fact, these children had lower levels of cholesterol than those who did not drink orange juice. Because orange juice also meets many of the goals of the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2010, you can feel good about making it a part of your everyday diet.

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