Food of the Week: orange juice

orangejuiceBefore beverage companies hijacked the market with sports drinks, gussied-up fruit-flavored punch juice-like fluids, energy drinks, flavored water and juice packs, there was orange juice.  Squeezed fresh, or made from frozen concentrate, it was the assumed breakfast beverage of choice for years, after World War II.

In the US, we consume roughly 1 billion gallons of orange juice yearly.  That’s 16 billion 8-oz cups.  Or about 50 cups per person per year.  Clearly not a daily beverage anymore, or that figure would be more than 300 per person per year.

That’s a shame, because orange juice has a lot going for it nutrition-wise:

  • high vitamin C — 1 cup has 97 mg.
  • high potassium — 470 mg/cup, 10% of the recommended daily intake for an adult
  • high folate — one cup has over 100 mcg, or more than 25% of the daily recommended intake.
  • a variety of B vitamins and minerals
  • Not to mention, no fat or sodium to speak of
  • no added sugars, flavorings, colorings or preservatives.

All with a mere 110 calories.

Manufactured beverages don’t have that nutritional content, but they do have flavorings, colorings, and maybe a few cheap random vitamins thrown in for the Health Halo effect.

Orange juice doesn’t take any special preparation, just open the container and drink it, with breakfast or other meals.  Frozen concentrate is easy, and there’s plenty of fresh squeezed orange juice in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.  Just be sure to buy “100% juice”, not “juice drink”.   “10% REAL juice!” is not a reason to buy a product.  An orange color doesn’t indicate actual orange fruit content.

Other uses:

  • In smoothies.  Orange juice goes well with strawberries, bananas, raspberries, peaches, pineapple and mango.
  • Mixed with club soda for a refreshing and lower calorie drink.  A reasonable substitute for soda pop for kids.
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