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Orange Juice May Not Be as Healthy As You Think

Orange Juice May Not Be as Healthy As You Think

Why does drinking juice seem to go hand-in-hand with childhood? Ever since I became a parent, I’ve noticed that orange juice is everywhere that children are – play groups, nursery schools, birthday parties, and post-extracurricular activities. For some reason, it’s assumed that children should always drink orange juice because “it is healthy and contains vitamin C.” Unfortunately, that is a serious misconception. Juice of any kind is not particularly healthy, and contains as much sugar as a can of soda, which is the last thing children struggling with obesity or diabetes need in their diets.

I read a very interesting article in The Atlantic about the history of orange juice and its rise in popularity over the past century, and learned that it is even nastier than I thought. Orange juice does not deserve the reputation it enjoys as a healthy drink, nor should it be part of the ‘balanced breakfast’ that we’ve been taught to recognize. Far from being fresh, the so-called “freshly squeezed, not-from-concentrate, homestyle” orange juice that consumers buy in cartons or Tetra-Paks is often more than a year old.

“Almost everybody drinks orange juice and is misinformed about what it is they are drinking,” writes Alissa Hamilton, author of Squeezed: What You Don’t Know about Orange Juice. The only way orange juice can taste the way it does is thanks to “flavor packs,” the citrus industry’s latest technological development:

“Oils and essences are extracted from the oranges and then sold to a flavor manufacturer who concocts a carefully composed flavor pack customized to the company’s flavor specifications. The juice, which has been patiently sitting in storage sometimes for more than a year, is then pumped with these packs to restore its aroma and taste, which by this point have been thoroughly annihilated.”

Yuck. This is yet another example of how the food industry has convinced consumers that a processed product is somehow better than its original source. There’s no reason why people can’t stick with water for hydration and enjoy a freshly peeled orange for flavor and a dose of real vitamin C. But that combination doesn’t have the same glitzy, empty health claims that a carton of orange juice does, nor does it have that sugary sweetness that our taste buds love so much.

It seems the rest of the world is catching on. Orange juice sales are at their lowest point in fifteen years, according to the Florida Department of Citrus, and even the British government is calling on a national fruit juice tax. I ditched orange juice a while ago when I realized that waxed paper cartons are not recyclable in my town, but now I’m happier than ever not to be feeding one-year-old, lab-created ‘flavor packs’ to my kids at breakfast. They deserve healthier food than that.

Article by Katherine Martinko

CC BY 2.0 Stephane

Related
Fruit Juices: Don’t Let the “Pure” Label Fool You
7 Not-So-Healthy “Health” Foods

 

Read more: Drinks, Eating for Health, Food, General Health

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Kara, selected from TreeHugger

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, planetgreen.com and TreeHugger.com, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.

115 comments

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12:52AM PDT on Jun 20, 2014

I guess they do that because consumers expect the same produce year round.
What about frozen juice, is that the same, or does this only apply to juice in the cartons?
I rarely drink juice anyway, just wondering.

3:49AM PDT on Apr 18, 2014

Thank you

10:17AM PST on Feb 26, 2014

Industrialized juice... never.

7:46AM PST on Feb 24, 2014

Store bought orange juice has ALOT of sugar.....too much to take it seriously as a drink choice anyway.

3:31PM PST on Feb 21, 2014

mmm think I might have to rethink my orange juice drinking habits - thanks I think

11:42AM PST on Feb 21, 2014

please! I'm tired of articles that say that everyday items are dangerous to one's health! I drink packaged oj in moderation. (it's the chocolate n other sweets that I sometimes eat that I agree are bad for me.)

8:38PM PST on Feb 20, 2014

Fresh squeezed but in what century is the question.

7:45PM PST on Feb 20, 2014

Thanks

12:47PM PST on Feb 20, 2014

Most of the stuff that comes in a package of some sort can't be good...

12:05PM PST on Feb 20, 2014

I must agree with my friend, Anteater: Eating ants is healthier.

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