By Kiersten Hickman
Orange juice is heart-healthy thanks to antioxidants
If you’ve ever hesitated to enjoy orange juice in the morning because some health guru online is telling you to avoid “all the sugars”—unless you’ve gotten that same advice from your doctor—maybe don’t listen to them. Turns out, drinking 100% orange juice (as well as other 100% citrus juices) can actually benefit your health in more ways than you might have heard.
Registered dietitians say thanks to hesperidin, an antioxidant found in citrus fruits like oranges, drinking 100% orange juice can actually decrease your risk of heart disease, improve your blood health, and reduce chronic inflammation.
What is hesperidin?
“Hesperidin is a flavonoid found in citrus fruits,” says Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim. “As an antioxidant, it helps protect the cells from oxidative damage that can lead to heart disease. It may be protective against inflammation and heart disease.”
Hesperidin is “a plant pigment with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,” adds Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook. “It’s primarily found in citrus fruits like oranges, lemon, grapefruit, and tangerines, as well as their 100% juices. This is important because antioxidants help buffer free radicals (the bad guys) that can cause damage to cells.”
How does hesperidin benefit heart health?
According to Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, an Uncle Matt’s Organic nutrition consultant, 100% citrus juice consumption—such as orange juice—was related to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and ischemic stroke.
“OJ contains plant compounds such as flavonoids, which may be associated with positive heart health outcomes,” says Manaker. “Specific flavonoids [such as] hesperidin … have been linked to outcomes like a reduction in cardiovascular events, a reduction in stroke risk for both men and women, and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease in postmenopausal women.”
In particular, higher intakes of hesperidin delivered by 100% orange juice have been linked to positive blood pressure outcomes as well as a reduction in inflammatory markers, which in turn benefits heart health, according to a study published in the Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.
“Experiencing chronic inflammation may increase a person’s risk of developing a wide array of chronic diseases, like diabetes, certain cancers, and heart disease, so managing it may help people live healthier lives,” says Manaker.
Orange juice for heart health
All in all, sipping on a glass of orange juice in the morning or adding it to your smoothie can be highly beneficial for your long-term health—as long as you choose the right kind.
“The simple act of drinking a glass of 100% orange juice can have a profound effect on your overall health,” says Manaker. “As long as the juice isn’t an orange juice ‘drink’ made with added sugars, sipping on this juice can go a long way.” (https://www.thehealthy.com/heart-disease/orange-juice-heart-disease-registered-dietitians/)