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100% Orange Juice May Help Fight Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

Fresh orange juice and a cutting board.

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Key Takeaways

  • According to a recent study, drinking 100% orange juice may play a positive role in chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.
  • Combatting chronic inflammation can have a positive effect on immune health.
  • While the study showed an overall positive effect of drinking 100% OJ, more research is needed to confirm its potential benefits on inflammation and oxidative stress.

Managing inflammation and oxidative stress may be as simple as sipping on a glass of 100% orange juice, according to a new review and meta-analysis. 

The study was funded by an unrestricted grant by the Florida Department of Citrus and was published in Advances of Nutrition in October.

Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

Inflammation and oxidation are natural processes that occur in the human body. They can be the result of different factors, such as being exposed to cigarette smoke, eating large amounts of sugar, and living in a polluted environment.

When there is too much chronic inflammation or there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body (oxidative stress), there can be health consequences.

For example, if oxidative stress is not managed and too many free radicals are present in the body without enough antioxidants to counteract them, a person might be at a higher risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers.

Oxidative stress can also lead to chronic inflammation, a condition that is linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and autoimmune and neurodegenerative disorders. 

Chronic inflammation can also be related to obesity, physical inactivity, diet, and disturbed sleep.

Chronic inflammation has also been shown to have negative effects on immune health. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, this relationship has been garnering more attention. In fact, recent data has shown that low-grade chronic inflammation can negatively affect the outcomes of patients with COVID. 

Having chronic inflammation can also impair normal immune function, leading to increased susceptibility to infections.

During pregnancy and childhood, systemic chronic inflammation can increase a person's risk for developing non-communicable diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

Benefits of 100% OJ

Taylor Wallace, PhD, CFS, FACN, principal & chief executive officer of Think Healthy Group, adjunct professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at George Mason University, and an investigator on the study, tells Verywell that “evidence is emerging” about whether drinking 100% OJ plays a positive role in inflammation and oxidative stress.

Too much oxidative stress and chronic inflammation can occur for a variety of reasons, including our dietary choices. According to Wallace's research, 100% orange juice might be an addition that could help fight inflammation and stress.

What the Study Looked At

The study included a scoping review, a systematic review, and a meta-analysis that investigated the potential associations between 100% orange juice and markers of inflammation or oxidation in healthy adults as well as in people at risk for chronic diseases.

Here's how the researchers broke down the research:

  • The scoping review included 21 studies that included 307 healthy adults and 327 adults at risk for disease.
  • The systematic review focused on 16 studies that measured the six most reported biomarkers related to inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.
  • Of the 16 studies included in the systemic review, only 10 were used for the meta-analysis.

What the Data Showed

The findings suggest that drinking 100% OJ significantly reduces a well-established marker of inflammation called interleukin 6 in both healthy adults and adults at high risk of developing chronic diseases.

The results showed that, in general, 100% OJ either had beneficial or no effect on oxidative stress or inflammation. Drinking OJ did not cause an increase in either chronic inflammation or oxidative stress. 

Limitations

The analysis did not include a large number of clinical trials, the studies that were included had small sample sizes, and there was a moderate risk of bias when evaluating the individual studies included.

Still, the results did get researchers thinking about the potential benefits of 100% OJ on inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.

Other Studies

The study is not the first to suggest that 100% OJ may help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. 

The results of a study published in Food and Nutrition Research in 2015 suggested that adults who drank 750mL (3 cups) of orange juice for eight weeks as part of their usual diet experienced improvements in several anti-inflammatory and oxidative stress markers.

While it's an older study, research published in the Journal of Nutrition that looked at healthy adults who consumed 500mL (2 cups) of orange juice daily for two weeks showed a significant reduction in a marker for oxidative stress.

Is 100% Juice Healthy?

100% orange juice is made with only one ingredient: oranges. It contains no added sugars. One cup “counts” as a fruit serving, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) recommends that fruits and vegetables make up half of a person's plate at each meal, with at least half of the total fruit servings coming whole fruit.

“100% fruit juice gets a really bad rap because of the sugar it contains," says Taylor. Even though it does contain natural sugars, Taylor says that “polyphenols in 100% fruit juice can bind and block some of sugar from being absorbed." Therefore, according to Taylor, "saying that drinking 100% fruit juice is like drinking soda is inaccurate."

As the researchers of the latest study highlight, 100% fruit juice has similar vitamin and mineral content to equal quantities of the whole fruit counterpart.

Oranges, and orange juice, naturally contain important nutrients like folate, vitamin C, and thiamin, along with natural polyphenols.

“100% orange juice can absolutely be a part of an overall healthy diet,” Elizabeth Shaw, a California-based registered dietitian and the owner of Shaw Simple Swaps, tells Verywell, adding that fruits and veggies are a beneficial part of a diet that also includes other healthful foods, "like low mercury fish, beans, and legumes."

Shaw says that while juice does not supply the fiber that you'd get from eating the whole fruit, it's still a source of fuel for the body "with important vitamins and minerals that are so essential to get—especially during a global pandemic.”

What This Means For You

Drinking 100% orange juice (made with only oranges and no added sugar) can be a beneficial addition to your diet. According to a recent study, it might help combat inflammation and oxidative stress.

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8 Sources
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