Orange Juice and Diabetes: Good Enough for My Condition?
Orange juice is a favorite, enjoyed by most all over the world. The juice is obtained from the fresh fruit by simple mechanical extraction, squeezing out the content of the fruit. This can be achieved by simple hand press or other commercial methods, especially in industries. Like most fruits, oranges are rich in essential vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C, calcium, and potassium.
Often, people with diabetes are told to shy away from taking fruit juices. This is because most beverages, including orange juice, contain high sugar content which can quickly elevate blood sugar. Generally, it is better to eat the actual fruit, like orange, than its fruit - orange juice.
Orange fruit is considered a healthy inclusion in the diet of people with diabetes. So since the juice is obtained from the fruits, why is the fruit better? Can I still drink orange juice with diabetes? These questions and others are what this article addresses. Read on to learn everything you need about orange juice before deciding to include it in your dietary plan.
- Protein 0.7 g
- Carbohydrate 10 g
- Fat 0.2 g
- Fiber 0.2 g
- Sugar 8 g
- Cholesterol 0 g
Brief Overview of Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic metabolic syndrome that affects how the body processes blood sugar. It is characterized by high blood glucose levels. This condition is prevalent, all over the world, especially among adults.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC states that more than 37 million Americans have this disorder. That's about 1 in 10 people. The disease exists in two forms, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, with the latter being more predominant.
The bodies of people with type 2 diabetes cannot manufacture insulin or there is insulin resistance. This then results in high blood sugar levels, as insulin is the hormone that converts glucose into glycogen for storage in the liver. The goal of therapy for this condition is to lower blood glucose.
The most effective means of achieving this is through lifestyle and dietary modification. However, anti glycemic medications and insulin injections are also effective. Essentially, reducing the intake of carbohydrates, sugars, and sweets and engaging in routine exercise help people gain better control of their blood sugar.
Since fruits and their juices contain natural sugars, many assume they may elevate blood sugar levels, thereby hampering the condition. This assumption isn't wrong, but these fruits and their juice, like orange juice, also contain beneficial nutrients that can assist in diabetes management.
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Nutritional Composition of a Typical Orange Juice
Orange juice is highly nutritious, especially when freshly obtained from the fruit. Though in comparison to the raw orange, there are subtle differences in the amount of nutrients. The major differences are the increased sugar and fewer fibers in the juice.
The table below shows the nutritional composition of a cup, about 240 ml, of orange juice.
Minerals and Vitamins
Besides the nutrients listed above, orange juice also contains beneficial vitamins and minerals in decent amounts.
Let's look at the amounts of vitamins and minerals in a cup of orange juice, comparing it to the recommended daily value (DV).
Potassium: 496 mg - 14% DV
Calcium: 27.3 mg - 2% DV
Vitamin C: 124 mg - 150% DV
Vitamin B1, Thiamine: 0.22 mg - 18% DV
Vitamin A: 24.8 mcg - 3% DV
Magnesium: 27.3 mg - 7% DV
Folate: 74 mcg - 18% DV
These nutrients are essential for optimum functioning of the body. For example, potassium is an essential nutrient needed for insulin synthesis. Low potassium levels are related to less insulin production, hence high blood glucose. Other minerals and vitamins, too, play one important role or the other in maintaining normal bodily functions.
Health Benefits of Orange Juice
Generally, orange juices contain high levels of sugar than their fruit, which may be detrimental to diabetes management. However, orange juice is said to be packed with many beneficial nutrients for human health.
That said, whether orange juice is healthy for people with diabetes or not is still a pondering question. But before that, let's discuss the amazing benefits of consuming this delicacy. Let's start with those relating to diabetes management.
Besides the sweet, refreshing taste, orange juice provides this feeling of satisfaction which may prevent you from further consumption of calories after intake of the juice. It is a healthy snack that all can enjoy.
However, the juice tends to be more concentrated, containing more natural sugars than raw orange. Some juice may even contain added sugars which can be detrimental to diabetic patients. So, if you want to use oranges for weight management, taking the whole fruit is better than the juice.
Recent studies show that inflammation in the body plays a role in the incidence of type 2 diabetes. Therefore, an anti-inflammatory diet may assist in preventing and treating the disorder. A report suggests that orange juice may possess a series of chemicals that may reduce the levels of inflammatory markers in the body, thereby reducing inflammation.
Improve Eye Health
Impaired vision is a major diabetic complication, so you may also want to improve your eye health when managing this disease. Orange juice contains decent amounts of vitamin A, which is known to be beneficial for the eyes. Along with carotene, the fruit contains antioxidants that may help strengthen the membrane of your eyes. Again, taking the raw fruit is a better choice than the juice for people with diabetes and healthy individuals.
Diabetes is known to affect the body's healing abilities. In fact, there are many cases where diabetes leads to amputation since wounds refuse to heal. Oranges contain ascorbic acid, which assists in forming collagen, which is important for healing wounds. It also contains important antioxidants, which also promote the body's healing abilities.
Lowers Cholesterol Levels
Elevated cholesterol levels are a primary cause of many metabolic disorders, from obesity to diabetes and other heart-related diseases. Regular consumption of orange juice in conjunction with a high-fiber diet may help reduce cholesterol levels.
The benefits of consuming orange juice listed above may influence diabetes in one way or the other. But studies show that it has no significant effect on glycemic control, postprandial glucose, insulin resistance and fasting blood glucose.
Again, the whole fruit is a better option since it contains loads of fibers that are beneficial to the body.
Where Does Orange Fruit Rank on the Glycemic Index (GI)?
The glycemic index is a scale that ranks carbohydrates from zero to 100 depending on how quickly the sugar in the food gets absorbed into the blood. Foods without any form of carbs or sugar have their GI as zero.
The scale ranks carbohydrates into three groups, namely;
Low glycemic index: GI values from 1 to 54.
Moderate glycemic index: GI values from 55 and 69.
High glycemic index: GI values from 70 to 100.
Foods that rank high on this scale are to be avoided by diabetes patients, as they are more likely to cause blood sugar spike, which can harm the condition.
On this scale, a typical orange juice falls between 66 and 76. This suggests that it's between moderate to the high glycemic index. Hence, with the aid of this scale, people with diabetes are to avoid orange juice.
How Does Orange Juice Affect Blood Sugar Levels?
Compared to whole fruits, packaged juice tends to contain more sugar. Some even contain added sugars or other sweeteners, which can cause spikes in blood glucose levels. Consistent blood sugar spikes increase the potential of developing hyperglycemia - the hallmark of diabetes.
Orange, for example, has a low glycemic index, which falls around 52. On the other hand, orange juice has its GI roaming around medium to high levels, in the range of 66 to 76. This suggests that orange juice has more potential to lead to diabetes than the actual fruit. Hence, most dietitians recommend that their diabetic patients avoid fruit juice, rather stick to eating the actual fruit.
Besides the glycemic index, these fruit juices have a much higher glycemic load. The glycemic load of foods better depicts how carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels. Orange fruit has a very low glycemic load, measuring less than 5. All citrus fruits are healthy for consumption in diabetes patients. The juice, however, are not that great a choice. The increased calorie content and sugar concentration, with fewer nutrients and fibers, cause them to affect blood sugar levels negatively.
You see, these juices come in handy when dealing with extremely low blood sugar levels - hypoglycemia. Since they are quick to cause elevation of blood sugar levels when taken. They correct the hypoglycemic situation in no time.
Why is Fruit Juice Discouraged in Diabetes?
Though fruit juice may contain some vitamins and minerals, people with diabetes are told to avoid them or drink them minimally.
Besides the nutrients, the juices contain the following.
A typical glass of unsweetened orange juice contains more than 100 calories. Compared to fresh orange fruit of similar quantity, the calorie content is about half, at 60.
Experts recommend less intake of calories for people with diabetes to promote better weight management and weight loss when necessary. Also, a low-calorie diet helps better control blood sugar levels, especially in people with diabetes.
The sugar in fruits is referred to as fructose. Naturally, all fruits contain this sugar in varying amounts. However, their juice tends to be more concentrated than fresh fruits, hence, a higher sugar content.
For example, a glass of orange juice contains about 21 grams of sugar, whereas a medium-sized orange contains about 12 grams. Regulation of sugar intake is challenging when drinking fruit juice.
The process of extracting juice from fruits causes a reduction in the number of fibers in them. Processed fruits tend to contain little or no fibers at all in them, which is not good for people with diabetes.
The fibers in fruits aid in blood sugar regulation and weight management. Fibers do not digest easily like normal carbs; they help reduce the rate at which the sugars in fruits and food enter the blood. High-fiber foods tend to have lesser GI - that is, they are less likely to elevate blood sugar levels.
Besides these nutrients listed, fruit juice contain fewer nutrients than the whole fruits . For example, most vitamins in these juices are in fewer amounts in comparison to those in the actual fruits.
Fruit Juice and Fructose
We earlier mentioned that the sugar in fruits is fructose. Fruit juices are rich in this sugar. Table sugar, sucrose is a combo of glucose and fructose in equal portions. Therefore, a sugar-rich diet is also rich in fructose. So, when you take fruit juice, you introduce more fructose into your body.
With that being said, how does fructose affect the body?
The liver metabolizes most foods we consume; the same goes for fructose. About 70 percent of fructose consumed gets processed by the liver. When you eat a food rich in fructose, it may overwhelm the liver, which may result in disorders like diabetes, and even liver-related diseases. Research suggests that excessive consumption of a diet rich in fructose is a potential risk factor for the development of NASH (Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease).
Again, consuming whole fruit is better than its juice. Besides the increased sugars, the absence of fibers causes quick absorption of fructose from the juice. That said, even when you choose to drink juice with your condition, it must be at the barest minimum. You do not want to cause more problems for your health.
Orange Juice and Blood Glucose Levels
Recent studies suggest that consumption of 100 percent orange juice has no significant effect on fasting blood sugar levels, blood glucose or even insulin levels. In people with prediabetes, similar glucose metabolism was reported as in healthy individuals after consuming 100 percent orange juice.
However, studies into the effect of sugar-sweetened juice and beverages show opposite results. Such studies indicate an increase in glycemia - glucose in the blood, which may be detrimental for people with diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association recommends eating 100 percent fruit juice but controlled portion size. Though fresh fruits remain the best option, the organization indicates that frozen and canned fruits are healthy, provided you stick with those that are unsweetened and devoid of extra sugar.
It is safe to say that people with diabetes can enjoy orange juice in moderation, though it is better to eat orange fruit.
Orange Juice and Insulin Sensitivity
Studies suggest no change in plasma insulin concentrations after consuming orange juice. These studies indicate that the consumption of 100 percent orange juice has no adverse effects in people with prediabetes.
Another report even suggested that long-term consumption of orange juice in obese individuals results in either the same or improved blood glucose, insulin and lipid levels. Studies like this indicate that juice doesn't really increase the risk of incidence of diabetes.
However, when already with the disorder, it is better to avoid them than to continue consuming them. Once there is a metabolic syndrome, like diabetes, it is best to stick with a diet rich in proteins, healthy fibers and fats. Regular intake of sugars and carbs may be detrimental to therapy.
Is Whole Fruit Better Than Juice?
If you've read this article well, you probably already know the answer to the question. However, let's get right into it. The whole fruit contains dietary fibers that play critical roles in managing blood sugar.
A 100-gram serving of fresh oranges, for example, has about 2 grams of total dietary fiber.
On the other hand, similar portions of typical orange juice barely contain any fiber at just 0.2 grams. So when you say you enjoy taking orange juice more than the fruit, just know you are choosing to miss out on these beneficial fibers.
Dietary fibers improve digestion and reduce the rate sugar gets into the blood. So, when you consume fresh fruit, the sugar isn't easily absorbed into the blood. And by the way, we are not even talking about the added sugars and other additives that may be present in packaged fruit juice which may also negatively affect diabetes management.
That said, even when you are eating fruit as a diabetic, you should eat in moderation. As we have stressed, fruits also contain carbohydrates, often in the form of natural sugar.
So, if consumed in excess, the glycemic load would accumulate, which may be detrimental to your health. Therefore, as you stick with whole fruits over juices, ensure to eat in small portions to gain more from its nutritional health benefits.
Does Drinking Fruit Juice Increase Chances of Diabetes?
In the past, packaged juices were said to be a healthy drink, providing many health benefits. However, what do recent studies have to say about these drinks? With all we have said so far, you should be able to answer this question yourself.
A series of studies to check the effect of fruit juice on the development of diabetes led to the conclusion that an increase in the consumption of these juices increases the risk of diabetes, especially type 2. However, the research suggested that intake of 100 percent fruit juice, which is difficult to come by, in the market has no significant relationship with the increase in the incidence of type 2 diabetes.
Therefore, since dietary modification appears to be the most effective means of managing diabetes, patients should avoid sugar-sweetened beverage and juice.
How Does Vegetable Juice Relate to Diabetes?
Regular intake of non-starchy vegetables is highly recommended as part of dietary modifications for people with diabetes. They have a lesser glycemic index and, of course, fewer carbohydrates and sugars than fruits. Vegetable juices also follow the same trend of having fewer carbs and sugars than fruit juices.
In maintaining a healthy diet, juiced veggies are beneficial. However, just like in fruits, these vegetable juices lose most of their fibers during juicing. Hence, consuming raw or fresh vegetables is more beneficial to health than its juice.
The Best Drinks for Diabetes
In managing diabetes, eating a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise remains the most effective means of therapy. However, diet goes beyond the food and fruits you eat. Some drinks are also beneficial for people with diabetes.
Let's take a brief look at some of these drinks.
Water is by far the best drink for healthy living. Every organ and system of the body needs water for optimum activity. Instead of taking juices and soft drinks when feeling thirsty, take water. You can never go wrong with water.
There are times you need to drink something other than water. Milk is a good option for these times. It contains essential vitamins, minerals and even calories. Note that milk also contains carbs in the form of lactose and fats. Hence, ensure you go for unsweetened, plain or low fat milk.
Herbal teas like green tea and infusions like lipton are excellent options for people with diabetes. These teas are more or less like flavored water devoid of sugar or any form of carbs. They tend to have beneficial phytocompounds like antioxidants, which may be helpful against diabetes. Avoid sweet tea, they are not good for this metabolic syndrome.
Homemade lemonade: Squeeze a wedge of lemon in your water and enjoy some fresh lemonade! Add some mint if you’re feeling up for it!
Vegetable juice, especially non-starchy vegetables, is a good alternative to fruit juice. They also lose some of their fibers through the juicing process. However, they contain fewer carbs and are even more beneficial than fruit juices.
A recent study suggests that unsweetened coffee may improve postprandial glucose. Therefore, reducing the risk of incidence of diabetes. However, many of the coffee sold in cafés aren't poor. Hence, it is important to stick with unsweetened coffee, as that will yield the best outcomes. The addition of cream, sugar or milk to improve taste will contribute to the calorie count. So when looking to improve the flavor of your coffee, you could just add drops of cinnamon.
In treating and managing diabetes, it is best to stick to the drinks mentioned above. In fact, they are more effective in managing this condition than fruit juices. They contain little or no calories, carbs, sugar and fats.
Drinks and Foods to Avoid When Managing Diabetes
We have already discussed the best drinks to enjoy when managing diabetes. So what drinks do you need to avoid to obtain the best outcomes from therapy?
Sugary drinks and beverages, especially soda drinks, are by far the worst drinks for people with diabetes. They are high in carbs and sugars, rapidly raising blood sugar levels immediately after consumption. They also contain high amounts of fructose which can result in insulin resistance and other metabolic disorders.
Whatever beverages you choose to consume when diagnosed with diabetes, try as much to ensure it doesn't contain any added sugar. They are bad for your therapy. The only time sugar-sweetened beverages are of importance is when it comes to increasing low blood sugar levels.
Honey, Maple Syrup and Other Natural Sugars
Some people replace sugar with some of these naturally occurring substances. Unknown to them, they are as harmful as sugar. Honey, for example, is 40 percent fructose and 30 percent glucose. Hence, when consumed, it'd have a similar effect to normal sugar consumption.
Most energy drinks are high in carbs and caffeine. Studies indicate that these drinks are likely to cause spikes in your blood sugar levels. Besides increasing blood sugar, caffeine could also lead to elevated blood pressure.
Since the fruit is dried, it has lost most of its water content. Therefore, taking such fruit is like consuming a fruit juice concentrate. There are cases where dried fruits contain up to four times the sugar content of fresh fruits. When trying to enjoy fruit, the best choice is the fresh fruits.
Fruits Juice vs Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
We have reiterated that 100% fruit juice, such as orange juice, offers some benefits to people with diabetes. Even when we say they are safe, we recommend taking them in moderation.
On the other hand, the dangers of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages outweigh whatever benefits you gain from them. Generally, people with diabetes are advised to shy away from sweetened beverages.
What of Artificially Sweetened Beverages?
Artificial sweeteners are sugar substitute added to food and beverages to impart their sweetness. The sweetness of this class of sweeteners is intense. Most of these sweeteners are more than 100 times sweeter than table sugar.
These artificial sweeteners lack any form of carbs or sugar. Hence, they are sometimes called non-nutritive sweeteners. They do not have any effect on blood sugar level. In fact, some are said to be beneficial for diabetes, as they may help reduce body weight and fat mass. So instead of taking soda or other sugar-sweetened drinks, you may replace them with artificially sweetened beverages.
The FDA approves aspartame, neotame, sucralose, saccharin, and acesulfame potassium as non-nutritive sweeteners used as food additives. You may need to consult your dietitian before including any of these sweeteners into your diet, as you never can tell how your body reacts to them.
When deciding to enjoy any beverage like coffee, tea or drink at all, it is best to go with the unsweetened variant. Unlike food, drinks get absorbed more quickly and cause blood sugar spike.
Sugar-sweetened beverages are only beneficial during spells of low blood sugar levels - hypoglycemia. In this case, you want to elevate your blood sugar levels as soon as possible. Sugar-sweetened beverages are the best bet in such scenarios. Besides that, stick with unsweetened fruit juice amongst other beneficial drinks for your condition.
Tips for Selecting Low-Sugar Drinks
Sugary drinks are one of the major sources of added sugars.
In this article, we have established that people with diabetes can enjoy fruit juice, provided it is devoid of added sugars, and taken in moderation.
That said, finding diabetes-friendly low-sugar drinks may be tricky. For example, not all the drinks labelled 100% fruit are indeed purely from fruits.
Anyways, below are tips to follow when choosing the best drinks.
Pay Attention to the Nutritional Facts
Check for the ingredients used in manufacturing the drink. You could even compare it with other options. Often, fruit juice that is indeed 100 percent do not have a long ingredient list. When you start seeing a long list, it's perhaps not 100%.
When observing the nutritional stat, look for carbs, sugar, calories, and fats. As one with diabetes, you need to monitor how you consume these nutrients, as they may affect your condition if not properly regulated.
Also, you want to go with a drink that contains water; the absence of water denotes that it's a concentrate. As a person with diabetes, you do not want a concentrated drink.
Check for Sugar or Other Sweeteners
Besides the natural sugars in fruits, most fruit juice and other drinks tend to contain sugar or artificial sweeteners to improve the taste. As a person with diabetes, you do not want to consume a drink with excess sugar. After all, you are trying to regulate your blood sugar. Intake of added sugar is surely not the right way to do this.
Most low-sugar drinks tend to contain other artificial and non-nutritive sweeteners. You see, some of these sweeteners are not good for your health. We'd recommend you go for purely unsweetened drinks. However, drinks sweetened with stevia or monk fruit are excellent options.
How to Enjoy Orange Juice for Diabetes
Irrespective of what you might be hearing about the dangers of fruit juice in diabetes, the ADA recommends taking 100 percent fruit juice in small portions. However, they recommend not more than 4 ounces daily.
Still, we suggest that even when you decide to enjoy orange juice, always endeavor to monitor your blood sugar levels before and after consumption. As one with a metabolic disorder like diabetes, it is important to know how your body reacts to whatever you consume.
When you consume orange juice, enjoy it with a healthy diet high in fiber, proteins and healthy fats. Consuming any beverage with such a diet reduces the effect it ought to have on your blood sugar levels.
What are the Risks of Excessive Drinking of Orange Juice?
Throughout this article, we have recommended that if you drink orange juice, you should do so in moderation. So, is there any danger to excessive consumption of orange juice?
Excessive intake of orange juice or any sugary substance can lead to hyperglycemia, even in healthy individuals. Hyperglycemia is a major symptom of diabetes.
However, it doesn't necessarily mean you have this metabolic disorder, as in the case of a healthy person; it could just be momentarily due to you excessively consuming sugary substances. Though you may need to consult your doctor, as you might be prediabetic - without necessary therapy, it is more likely to result in diabetes.
Symptoms of Hyperglycemia
You do not start to notice the symptoms of high blood sugar until after a couple of days or weeks. Most of its symptoms are similar to those of diabetes. They include
Increased thirst, etc.
If you do not pay attention to these symptoms, hyperglycemia could become more severe, leading to ketoacidosis - the body produces more keto-acids. The symptoms for this include.
Dry mouth and shortness of breath
Perhaps if you fail to pay attention to these symptoms, you could even end up in a coma. So, when you notice any of the symptoms associated with hypoglycemia, it is in your best interest to contact your doctor immediately.
Allergy to Orange Juice
Allergies, citrus fruits, such as oranges, is rare. However, there are reports of people showing allergic reactions to citrus fruits and their juice. Most of the symptoms are associated with the oral cavity. Like many allergic reactions, they are caused by the body's defences reacting to citrus as if it were a harmful substance.
The symptoms include
Itching of the tongue, throat and lips
Redness of the gums and lips
Swelling and inflammation, etc.
In severe cases, it may be fatal, causing anaphylaxis.
Alternatives to Orange Juice
You may not like orange juice, or perhaps you are among the rare set of people that experience allergic reactions after consuming the fruit or juice.
Remember, as a diabetic patient, you must consume these juices in moderation.
Below are several alternatives to orange juice that you can enjoy.
Generally, fruit juices are not so good for people with diabetes; it contains little or no fibers. Hence, after consumption, sugar gets easily absorbed into the bloodstream. This is why whole fruits are better options in the management of diabetes and other metabolic syndromes.
The key to consuming fruit juice for diabetes is to stick with the ones with a low GI, which orange fruit isn't. As a result, you might have to rethink before including it in your diet. And when you choose to do so, follow the rule of moderate drinking. Do not take more than one serving.
Also, you might need to consult a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator to give you insight on how best to include orange juice into your diet. They can also assist you in making a feeding pattern that best suits your body for the best results of therapy.
What's more, a diabetes management app, too, may come in handy towards getting the best outcome in your management of this condition. These apps can help you design a personalized dietary plan and track your blood sugar levels and exercise periods. An excellent app for this purpose is the Klinio app.
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