The Best Years in Life
Articles by Natural Health Author Barbara Minton
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Orange Juice From the Store is Not What You Think
by Barbara Minton
(The Best Years in Life) Orange juice is a breakfast favorite in 70 percent of American households. Most choose ready-to-drink orange juice sold in cartons for its special taste and the health benefits implied in its ads. But no matter what the advertisements say, orange juice bought from the grocery store does not live up to its image.
Almost all orange juice sold in any kind of store, including orange juice labeled as organic has been pasteurized in the name of food safety. Since one of the main reasons people drink orange juice is to get Vitamin C, this is important. The pasteurization process requires that juice be heated to a high temperature, and heating vitamin C destroys it along with the juice's natural enzymes. Pasteurization also jeopardizes citrus bioflavonoids, the natural antioxidants found in plants that are powerful inhibitors of aging and cancer. The Journal of the American Dietetic Association has reported that frozen concentrates of orange juice retain about 86 milligrams of Vitamin C per cup, compared to a range of 27 to 65 milligrams per cup for ready-to-drink orange juice.
Why does frozen concentrate retain a higher level of Vitamin C after pasteurization? Juice for concentrate is pasteurized as part of the evaporation process. The concentrated juice is then rapidly stabilized at 10 degrees F. The process is quick and allows for minimal loss of Vitamin C. Frozen orange juice concentrate still retains 100% of the RDA of Vitamin C for most adults.
But juice to be sold as ready-to-drink in cartons or bottles is pasteurized and then stored in gigantic vats for up to a year. In this more lengthy process oxygen is removed so the juice does not spoil and more Vitamin C is lost.
Why the flavor and aroma of ready-to-drink orange juice is to good to be true
In addition to compromising Vitamin C content, this process removes the natural flavor and aroma of the oranges. Juice producers then hire companies with expertise in creating chemical flavors and fragrances to restore what has been lost, so customers don't take one sip and say "yuck". They create what is known as flavor packs to make the juice taste and smell appealing again. There is no requirement that the addition of flavor packs be disclosed in labeling.
Flavor packs are what give each brand of ready-to-drink juice its unique flavor, taste and fragrance. Tropicana (owned by Pepsico), Minute Maid and Simply Orange (both owned by Coca-Cola), Florida's Natural and others each have a flavor distinction that reflects their flavor packet composition. Meanwhile, ads for these juices describe them as natural, pure and simple, creating the illusion that juice was brought straight from the orange grove to your grocery store!
The phrase "not from concentrate" was created in the 1980s by Tropicana when it introduced its ready-to-drink orange juice as a way of making it sound superior to juice reconstituted from concentrate. Effort was put into making customers think orange juice from a refrigerated carton or bottle was fresher and somehow more real, and that was why it cost more. The ad campaign was a success and over the next few years, sales of Tropicana's ready-to-drink juice soared, and so did profits.
However ready-to-drink orange juice is not more expensive because it is fresher or more like the kind you could squeeze at home. Instead it's because the process of creating it is more elaborate and space consuming. And of course there are those technologists they have to pay to come up with flavor packs, and the stockholders that have to be satisfied.
Buying your own oranges is better
When you buy oranges from a grocery store, their origins are generally revealed and you can make an informed decision about whether a particular place of origin has your best interest at heart or not. When you buy orange juice you have no way of knowing where the oranges came from, with the exception of the Florida's Natural brand, the only brand that claims it uses oranges grown in the US exclusively.
This year U.S. conventionally grown oranges rank number 31 on the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) list of the produce with the highest amounts of pesticides. While not an awful ranking, it is not a good one either, and indicates the presence of several pesticides. This means consumers should look for organic oranges, or at least be sure their oranges are grown in the US where standards for pesticide use are relatively stringent.
Orange juice is a sweet as soda
The high sugar content of orange juice is another concern, no matter whether it is freshly squeezed or bought at the store. You may be surprised to learn that 100 percent orange juice is 42 percent sugar. Twelve ounces of Coca Cola contains 40 grams of sugar, and twelve ounces of orange juice contains 39 grams - not much difference.
When you eat an orange, you are eating the pulp and white connective tissue that helps slow down the digestive rate and ward off an insulin spike. But when you drink orange juice you are quickly putting into your body the equivalent of several oranges without the benefit of their pulp or connective tissue, causing a terrific insulin spike that can then plummet and leave you feeling shaky, rung-out and starving.
What is a better way to begin the day? How about eating a fresh orange or half a grapefruit! Or you can try looking in the back of your cabinets to see if that old juicer is still there. If you find it, try juicing some organic limes instead. The sugar content of limes is only 1.69 per 100 grams. Or try mixing half orange and half lime or lemon. However you choose to do it, freshly squeezed is still the best.
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