Maybe you’ve long started your morning with a tall glass of orange juice (and The TODAY Show). Maybe you gulp down some OJ a few times a week post-workout. Maybe you’re freshly squeezing the stuff every other day for a cohort of happy imbibers. Or perhaps you’re a stranger to OJ unless it’s in the context of mimosa.
Well, dear readers, we’re here to sing orange juice’s praises. Especially one incredible side effect of drinking 100% orange juice that has to do with a chemical found in plants called hesperidin.
The benefits of orange juice.
First, a quick overview of this nutrient-dense beverage: “100% orange juice is a simple drink that is hydrating and contains no added sugars. It contains important nutrients like vitamin C, folate, and potassium, and is linked to a slew of health benefits,” Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian at Nutrition Now, tells Eat This, Not That!
Another neat side effect of orange juice? “If you drink a glass of 100% OJ a day, you may experience fewer kidney stones,” Manaker says. “100% OJ is 88% water, fueling your body with important hydration that can help keep your kidneys healthy. Plus, dietary citrate, found in foods like 100% OJ, inhibits the formation of certain kidney stones. Drinking 100% OJ has been shown to reduce the risk of developing kidney stones, according to a study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.”
In addition to pure OJ being “an excellent source of immune-helping vitamin C,” the nutrient we want to zoom in on today for its incredible health benefits is the flavonoid hesperidin, according to Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, a plant-based registered dietitian and owner of Plant-Based Eats.
One major side effect of drinking orange juice is reaping the benefits of hesperidin: a bioactive compound found in high quantities in OJ.
“Hesperidin may help brain health by decreasing inflammation and maintaining blood flow,” Gorin says.
Additionally, drinking 100% orange juice may lower blood pressure in certain populations.
“In a study in the European Journal of Nutrition, people drank orange juice, hesperidin-enriched orange juice, or a control beverage daily for three months. The researchers found that continued intake of the beverages that contained hesperidin (including the unenriched, regular OJ) helped to lower systolic blood pressure,” Gorin adds. “Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure on the walls of your arteries in between heartbeats.”
Because typical OJ naturally contains hesperidin (and isn’t enhanced with it), what the study really highlights is the benefits of hesperidin—and plain OJ is a great way to obtain this nutrient.
After drinking 2 cups of orange juice every day for a month, the blood pressure of overweight men decreased, a similar study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found. Researchers believe the benefits may be linked to hesperidin, which has also been shown to act in an anti-inflammatory and anti-atherogenic role.
There are only a few foods that contain hesperidin—such as grapefruit juice, lemon juice, and lime juice—but these are not as popular, palatable, or available as orange juice, which makes this morning beverage one of the best ways to reap the benefits of this compound.
How to drink orange juice to reap the benefits of hesperidin.
It’s important to note that all orange juices are not created equal. Like all things in life, too much of a good thing ain’t so sweet, and drinking too much orange juice may make you gain weight or increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.
“When you purchase OJ, you should look for 100% orange juice. So, basically nothing with added sugars,” Gorin advises. “The serving size is 8 oz. for adults and 4 oz. for kids daily.”
While Gorin wouldn’t suggest choosing OJ over sipping water throughout the day, this fruit juice can definitely be incorporated into your day as a serving of fruit.