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Does orange juice from concentrate (without additional ingredients) have the same benefits as fresh orange juice?

The more processing that a food undergoes, the more potential there is for nutrient loss. Any juice will have fewer benefits than an equivalent amount of the whole food from which it is made (provided that there are whole food parts—such as pulp—never making it into the final juice). For example, whole, organic oranges always provide better nutrition than freshly squeezed organic orange juice, unless all of the pulp that would have been eaten with the whole orange was also consumed in the freshly squeezed juice.

Freshly squeezed organic orange juice provides better nutrition than organic orange juice made from concentrate because it takes processing to manufacture orange juice concentrate. However, the differences here may not be very dramatic. One cup of orange juice from concentrate, for example, contains about 100 milligrams of vitamin C and 40 micrograms of beta-carotene (according to the USDA's SR19 nutrient database). The same cup of freshly squeezed orange juice contains about 125 milligrams of vitamin C and 80 micrograms of beta-carotene.

I haven't seen data for other phytonutrients contained in fresh orange juice compared to orange juice from concentrate, but I suspect that cryptoxanthin, hesperidin, limonene, and other phytonutrients found in the orange are found in decreasing amounts as the processing of the orange increases and therefore that the orange juice concentrate would have less of these phytonutrients.

Even though processing does have an impact on the nutritional value of whole oranges, I do not believe that organic orange juice from concentrate is a bad dietary choice. Many supermarkets do carry cartons of fresh, organic orange juice that is not made from concentrate. If that is not available, I think that an organic orange juice made from concentrate is still a very high quality drink compared to dozens of other choices (such as fruit drinks and soda pop), and it provides a very significant and worthwhile amount of many nutrients.

With all fruit juices, you do need to be more careful about the amount you consume than you do with whole fruits. Many people wanting a snack would naturally eat one whole orange and then stop. In that one medium-sized orange, they would get about 100 calories and 18 grams of sugar. On the other hand, it's not hard to find a 16-ounce bottle of orange juice in many stores, which will provide about 225 calories and 42 grams of sugar!

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