Drinking orange juice has been long thought to be a healthier option than eating the whole orange because orange juice concentrates more vitamins and minerals than the whole fruit and you can only eat so many oranges. At the same time, the juice concentrates more sugar and lacks the beneficial fiber in the fruit. But nutrients in the juice may be more bioavailable. Depending on how much orange juice you drink or how many oranges you eat, both the juice and the whole fruit can be either good or bad for you.
So which is better for your health: orange juice or oranges? When it comes to making a choice, orange juice vs oranges, your individual nutritional requirements and health status are a deciding factor. For example, if you have a condition called hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar levels, eating the whole orange might be better for you than drinking orange juice because, this way, you won’t get too much sugar. But if you have nutritional deficiencies, orange juice might help you reverse them faster than the whole fruit.
For example, frequent colds, catching the flu every season, wounds that heal poorly or bleeding gums are a sign of vitamin C deficiency and freshly-made orange juice is more likely to supply you with the vitamin C you need than the whole fruit. This is why you have to consider the health effects of both orange juice and oranges and understand any existing health conditions you may be dealing with in order to make the best choice for you. Here are the top 7 aspects to consider when deciding between drinking orange juice vs eating oranges:
1) Orange juice has more vitamins and minerals
Without the pulp and pith (the bitter, spongy part between the peel and the pulp) to fill you up, orange juice is not as satiating compared to the whole fruit which means you can drink more of it without actually filling up your stomach. Furthermore, since most of the nutrients ooze into the juice because they are water-soluble, you do get more vitamins and minerals from drinking orange juice than from eating the whole orange. However, only raw, unpasteurized orange juice made fresh from oranges preserves its original nutritional value, whereas orange juices from concentrate or pasteurized orange juice lose a good deal of their natural nutrients.
2) Oranges retain their vitamins and minerals longer
This is because when you make orange juice, you basically extract the nutrients into the juice and lend them more susceptible to degradation. For example, vitamin C is extremely sensitive to external factors such as air, light and heat and the longer you leave your juice on the table or in the fridge, the more vitamin C it loses. Nutrients in general are better protected withing the fruit by the peel, pith and pulp.
3) Nutrients in orange juice are more easily absorbed
While the vitamins and minerals in orange juice are more sensitive to external factors and risk degradation, they are at the same time more bioavailable. This means that orange juice makes it possible for the body to absorb vitamins and minerals easier than from the fruit. The whole fruit has fiber, indigestible plant material which can hinder nutrient absorption to a certain degree.
4) Whole oranges have fiber
At the same time, the fiber in oranges is good for your health (around 4 g of fiber/ 100 g of fruit). Dietary fiber is a sort of nutrient too, albeit an atypical one, and has many health benefits. A good intake from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains regulates transit time, relieves constipation, improves metabolism and helps you lose weight, regulates digestion because of its prebiotic properties, feeding the good gut bacteria and lowers cholesterol. So unless your orange juice is made with pulp and pith too, if you need more fiber in your diet, oranges are better for your health.
5) Orange juice helps keep you hydrated
While oranges have juice too, the fact that you don’t fill up on the pulp leaves room for drinking more juice which contributes to keeping you hydrated. And while water is best for staying hydrated, orange juice can help too, especially if you are having difficulty drinking enough liquids (read more about the dangers of dehydration).
6) Whole oranges have less sugar
If you choose orange juice over oranges, know that along with extra nutrients and liquids, you get extra sugar as well. And while not all sugar is the same, an excessive intake of any form can be detrimental to your health. Fruit juices are the most likely to fool us into exceeding our sugar requirements. 100 ml of home-made orange juice easily has 8-9 g of sugar and store-bought orange juices can have added sugars on top of that, upping your intake to unhealthy levels. If you are already having weight problems, hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) or diabetes, you might want to rethink drinking orange juice in the morning (also read orange juice or coffee in the morning?).
7) When it comes to antioxidants
Orange juice may help you absorb some antioxidants better, but oranges have more antioxidants. Oranges are a rich source of carotenoids, color-giving antioxidants that our body turns into vitamin A to boost immunity and improve eyesight. Juicing oranges appears to help the body better absorb carotenoids, but not other antioxidants (In Vitro Bioaccessibility of Carotenoids, Flavonoids, and Vitamin C from Differently Processed Oranges and Orange Juices [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck]).
High amounts of hesperidin, a powerful anticancer and antioxidant agent in the pith or albedo (the spongy, slightly bitter white inner rind of oranges and other citrus fruit) and other antioxidant flavonoids in the pulp are lost during juicing. With all the relevant information in mind, which do you think is better for your health, orange juice or oranges?