How Much Sugar Does Your Orange Juice Have?
With anywhere from 20 gm or more of natural sugars in a 248 gm serving of orange juice, and about 25 gm or over of carbs (that turns into sugars too on digestion!), orange juice may be giving you more sugar than you realize. Your best bet is to stick to freshly squeezed juice or to try and opt for a brand that says 100% pure orange juice with no added sugars.
A glass of orange juice feels like a great way to start your day. Packing in those vitamins and antioxidants, you probably feel especially healthy. But if you’re wary about the amount of sugar in the drink, you may well find reasons to cut your intake or change the kind of juice you drink.
How Sweet Is Orange Juice?
So how much sugar is there in a glass of orange juice? The answer isn’t as straightforward as you may think. The quantity of sugar in a glass of orange juice can vary greatly depending on whether you’re having it fresh squeezed with no sugar added in, or sweetened, or packaged with or without sugar.
A single cup of about 248 gm of unsweetened orange juice even though it may not have any added sugars already contains natural sugars. And you’re likely to get, on an average, about 20.83 gm of sugar in this serving size.1 A similar-sized serving of canned unsweetened orange juice has 21.81 gm of sugar.2 Some organic orange juice brands listed on the USDA database had as much as 41.67 gm of sugar in a 100 ml serving3, others had 33.8 gm in a 100 gm serving4
It’s Not Just About The Sugar
If you’re watching your sugar intake – and more so if you’re diabetic – you should know that it isn’t just important to know how much sugar or added sugar there is in orange juice. The carbohydrate content can be just as important. Why? That’s because your body digests carbohydrates and converts them to blood sugar or glucose. In other words, it isn’t just the sugar in the juice, but also the carbs that turn into sugar after being digested, that matter.5 So that same 248 gm serving which you thought gave you around 20 gm of sugar, suddenly becomes a more “heavy” choice, due to the 25.79 gm of carbohydrates it also contains.6 A 249 gm serve of an orange juice drink that might seem to have marginally more sugar content of 23.31gm, also has 33.39 gm of carbohydrate. And that changes the way you look at the drink.7
The other important thing to track if you’re concerned about a sugar spike in your system is the glycemic load. Considered more effective a measure than just glycemic index or GI, this tells you just how much of an effect a certain food has on your actual blood sugar levels when you consume it. This is derived after factoring in the carb content of the food as well. Which is why some high GI foods that have low carb content can still be low as far glycemic load goes. In other words, they won’t give you as much of a sugar spike as you may fear. Foods that have a glycemic load of 10 and under are considered low glycemic load foods, and a load that hits 20 and over is considered high. How does orange juice stack up on the glycemic load charts? Plain oranges have a glycemic load of just 5, well under 10. If you squeeze your own and leave in the fiber and pulp you should be able to keep the sugar rise low. However, have a glass of orange juice, even without any added sugars, and the glycemic load inches up to 12, slightly over the low glycemic load marker. Opt for an orange flavored drink or soda and you will have a real sugar hit with a glycemic load that’s in excess of 20 and probably not a good idea if you’re trying to keep those sugar levels steady.8 Different orange juices and orange juice concentrates were studied by the American Diabetes Association, for their glycemic load. It varied between 9 and 14 for 250 ml servings.9
The Sweet Spot
Here are some tips to make sure you don’t overdo the sugar with your next glass of orange juice.
- Stick to fresh squeezed orange juice. Better yet, have a nice juicy orange as a fruit instead. The pith and fiber in it is good for you too!
- If possible make your own, so you know nothing extra(especially sugar) has been added.
- If you’re buying canned or packaged orange juice, always read the label to check how much sugar it contains.
- Try and opt for a brand that says it has no added sugars. That way you’ll limit the damage! There’s no getting around the natural sugars, but at least you won’t be getting any unnecessary extra sugar in.
- Pick pure 100% juice. Anything that says “orange flavored” or anything else that implies it is just a cordial or syrup or artificial flavor of orange and not the real Mccoy, is best avoided. The sugar in such drinks is likely to be higher.
- If actual sugar intake is an issue, but you like your juices sweet, artificial sweeteners offer an alternative. However, there is some controversy around other potential health problems from artificial sweeteners, so this is a decision you should make after consulting your doctor – especially if you are diabetic.
References [ + ]
|1, 6.||↑||Orange juice, raw. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28.|
|2.||↑||Orange juice, canned, unsweetenedUSDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28.|
|3.||↑||ORGANIC ORANGE JUICE. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28.|
|4.||↑||KROGER, 100% JUICE, ORANGE. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28.|
|5.||↑||Carbohydrates and Diabetes. University of California San Francisco Medical Center.|
|7.||↑||Beverages, Orange juice drink. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28.|
|8.||↑||Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods. Harvard Health Publications.|
|9.||↑||Glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) values determined in subjects with normal glucose tolerance: 2008. Diabetes Care.|