Oranges are loved worldwide, and many of us enjoy a glass of orange juice. However, there’s a significant difference between the two. Orange juice has very little fiber, while oranges are rich in it. Consuming three oranges equals one glass of orange juice, with the juice containing almost twice as much sugar.
Effects of Fructose
The high fructose content in orange juice can pose health issues. Our intestines struggle to absorb fructose, leading it to the liver. Drinking lots of fruit juices, including orange juice, could potentially cause a fatty liver and other metabolic problems.
Health Benefits of Oranges
While oranges contain sugars, they also offer various nutrients, vitamins, and fiber. Consuming fiber in whole fruits like oranges slows digestion, reducing the absorption of glucose into cells, thus lowering insulin levels and reducing stress on the pancreas. The fiber in oranges acts as a prebiotic, feeding the probiotics in your microbiome, strengthening it, and improving your immune system and digestive health.
Oranges are well-known for their vitamin C content, which boosts our immune system and helps build collagen in our bodies, improving our skin, ligaments, and tendons. Oranges are also high in potassium, beneficial for leg cramping, cardiovascular health, and lowering blood pressure. The fiber in oranges also helps keep blood sugar levels in check and lowers high cholesterol.
The Glycemic Index
Oranges have a low glycemic index of 40, whereas orange juice has a high glycemic index between 66 and 76 (with 100 being the highest). The higher the glycemic index, the faster sugars enter cells, causing a spike in insulin. Over time, this could lead to insulin resistance. Drinking fruit juices, along with other carbs, can lead to excessive fat storage, including the dangerous visceral fat associated with metabolic syndrome.
The pith of an orange, found inside the skin attached to the fruit, contains 30% of the fruit’s fiber. This helps lower cholesterol, improve blood sugar, enhance gut health, and reduce constipation. The pith and the orange itself contain antioxidants in the form of flavonoids and naringenin, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. These can reduce carbohydrate absorption from the intestinal tract, slow down the insulin response after eating, and help combat metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.
Contrary to some opinions, oranges are extremely healthy when consumed in their whole state and in moderation, compared to orange juice. The American Diabetic Association and many other diabetic associations worldwide recommend oranges. The fiber, phytonutrients, minerals, and vitamins in oranges offer numerous health benefits.