Orange juice: healthy or unhealthy?
Orange juice is particularly healthy: but that's not always true. The selection of fruit juices at the supermarket is huge – which makes it all the more difficult to interpret. Is the product with «100% fruit» the best? Or the one with extra vitamins? Or the one in the chilled section that looks freshly squeezed?
Nothing but fruit
To find a healthy product, first read the list of ingredients: a high-quality fruit juice needs no flavouring, colouring or preservatives. It consists only of fruit. This means that – besides fibre – it contains as much as possible of what whole fruits also offer: vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
Official recommended consumption by the SSN
Such fruit juices can, in principle, play their part in a healthy diet. However, the Swiss Society for Nutrition, SSN, recommends that:
- Only one of the five daily recommended fruit and vegetable servings should be met with a glass of juice. For one: because the whole fruit provides important fibre and keeps you full for longer.
- For another: because the natural sugar content in fruit juice is between 5 and 15 grams per 100 ml – almost as much as a soft drink.
- To reduce the sweetness and therefore the calorie content, dilute the juice with water on a 1:2 part basis. Or choose juices that are a mix of fruit and vegetables.
Fruit over juice
Fruit juices don't compensate an unhealthy lifestyle or an unbalanced diet. In addition, fruit juice isn't nearly as valuable as the fruit itself, as many important nutrients are lost during the manufacturing process. Drinking juices is therefore not the way to combat a vitamin deficiency – even if some product labels give this impression. Particular reservation should be shown towards artificial additives. In juices, these are usually vitamins A, C, E and folic acid.
Avoid artificial additives
Whether additives actually have a beneficial effect on our health hasn't yet been researched in enough detail. But what is now clear: artificial vitamins are often added to juices in high quantities, and this can even be harmful. An excess of folic acid will mask conditions like a vitamin B-12 deficiency, for example. This is why it's better to drink a glass of juice with artificial additives only once in a while, if at all.
Is pasteurised orange juice healthier?
Pasteurised orange juice is healthier than the whole fruit as it provides the body with a particularly large amount of cell-protecting carotenoids. This is the result of a study conducted by researchers at the University of Hohenheim. Nonetheless, their recommendation is the same: continue to eat fresh fruit, and drink only one glass of juice a day at the most.
Juice isn't always the same – the key differences
- Fresh juice is many people’s first choice. In terms of taste and health benefits it's definitely a winner. A 200ml glass of freshly squeezed orange juice can contain up to 100mg of vitamin C. This covers a person’s daily requirement. The front-runner is sea buckthorn juice: 100ml contain 280mg of vitamin C. If possible, it’s best to squeeze juices yourself and drink them as soon as possible.
- Direct juice is – ideally – squeezed from ripened fruit straight after harvesting and preserved for the retail sector (pasteurised). It is a good alternative to freshly squeezed juice – provided that it has been gently pasteurised, which consumers will find difficult to know. Juices from the refrigerated section, claimed by manufacturers to have undergone gentle processing, are therefore not automatically the better choice.
- In the case of juices made from concentrate, all the water is removed, leaving the solids behind. When it comes to bottling, these solids are then mixed with water so that the juice regains its original volume. No other ingredients may be added. An acceptable option, even if not always convincing in terms of taste.
- In the case of fruit nectar, direct juice or fruit juice from concentrate is mixed with water and/or sweetener. By law, fruit nectar must contain a minimum content of 25 to 50 per cent fruit juice or fruit pulp.
- Fruit juice drinks only have a minimum fruit juice content of 10 per cent. They can consist of fruit juice, concentrate or cordial diluted with water. Often, various types of sugar are also added.