Is drinking a glass of Orange Juice any better for you than a Pepsi and a vitamin?

Title says it all I guess. When I was a kid, it seems like fruit juice was what you wanted to be drinking if you wanted to grow up big and strong. But orange juice has a bunch of sugar, about the same amount as Pepsi. Now, one would think that calcium and vitamin C are great for you, but it seems like anybody who eats healthy is going to get more of that kind of stuff than you can shake a stick at.

US Pepsi has manufactured sugar while juice has plant sugar; how much differnce does that make?

So, as someone who puts back a lot of liquid a day, is subbing out a pepsi for OJ doing me any favors?

Doctors on this board have opined that it’s practically equivalent. The sugar content of orange juice negates any healthy benefit–which is negligible when part of an already healthy diet.

This is a great question.

Also in the more general sense: If you get enough vitamins and minerals, and the sugar content is the same, are some foods still more healthy than others?

The uptake of vitamins is not such a straightforward process. There is reduced uptake from vitamin pills, due to competition between the vitamins. But I don’t know enough about it to answer your question.

Humans evolved to eat a varied diet and get a variety of nutrients. There are a lot of nutrients that humans need that we just don’t know about and so can’t put into vitamin tablets. The role of folate in preventing spinabifida is one of the more recent discoveries, and now folate is commonly added to foods as well as supplement pills. But rest assured more will be discovered.

Until we have a perfect knowledge of what nutrients the human body requires the best option health wise is to eat a varied diet. That means that orange juice is better for you than a Pesi and a pill simply because it contains a greater variety of substances, most of which aren’t available in any pill.

So the short answer is that the fruit juice is almost certainly better for you.

Remember that you could have asked this question 50 years ago when supplement pills lacked a lot of essential nutrients and nobody would have been able to give you a specific reason why the juice was better. As soon as we are able to list some precise reason why they will add that to the pill, and someone else in 5 or 20 years will ask why the juice is better than their pill which also contains factor x.

You have to ask yourself whether you believe that we know every single nutrient essential for human health that is found in oranges. If you don’t believe that then keep eating your fruit and veges and use the pills only as last resort.

If you have to drink either one of them, there is an argument that orange juice at least has the potential to be better for you.

But this isn’t an open invitation to drink gallons of orange juice “because its good for you.” It’s a fairly high sugar, high calorie food and should be drank in moderation just like soda.

How about other type of fruits juice for comparison in sugar content, such as watermelon (it’s about just as sweet, if you ask me). green apple, honey dew (not so sweet?) and many others?

Is it too obvious to point out that the Pepsi has caffeine which the OJ doesn’t?

While, immediate, direct health effects are probably not too significant from the caffeine, it could impact sleep quality in an unhealthy way.

More importantly, it could lead to Pepsi being drunk for the caffeine fix, which could result in more being drunk than if OJ was the drink of choice (and say, black coffee was used for caffeination).

I have an anecdotal answer, backed up by information from a Harvard educated nutritionalist, does that count?

After having a full roux en Y gastric bypass, sugar can make me very sick. It’s a phenomenon usually referred to as “dumping syndrome.” The portion of your intestine that normally absorbs the majority of your fat and sugar is bypassed (thus the term gastric bypass). So for reasons not completly understood, too much sugar or fat makes me and many weight loss surgery patients…well…pukey. When the sugar or excess fat hits my system I get shakey, nauseous, dizzy, my nose starts running, and the only “cure” is to curl up in bed and wait it out. It’s gross.

My body doesn’t distinguish between the sugar I get from a cookie and the sugar I get from a glass of orange juice. Fruit juices or even an overdose of grapes produce the same disgusting effect. The nutritionist I dealt with before and after surgery informed me that there are the same amount of calories in ANY kind of sugar…fructose or cane or whatever.

Additionally, the same nutritionist referred to sodas as “industrial waste.” There are other things in them besides sugar like the artificial coloring and flavoring that are at best not GOOD for you and at worst, potentially detrimental to your health in large quantities. Some studies show that the carbonation can be a problem (it’s certainly a problem if you’re stomach is the size of a walnut and it could be a problem for others as well…it could keep you from utilizing vitamins and minerals you take in around the same time you drink the soda).

The bio-availability of nutrients in pill form varies by individual also. There’s no good way to tell if you’re absorbing the stuff in those pills or not. If you’re already absorbtion-compromised like I am your best bet is to get your nutrients from your food as best you can and supplement for added protection. If you’re NOT only absorbing some of your calories this is still the best bet according to the aforementioned expert on the subject.

So, to summarize:

Soda + vitamin pill: Sugary, useless crap that has no redeeming nutritional value and a pill that you may or may not absorb.


Glass of juice: Sugary, but if that’s not a problem for you, you may absorb the nutrients better.

Just to be clear, it’s not just sugars: all carbohydrates have the same number of calories per gram. Four.

Protiens are all four calories per gram.

Fats are all 9 calories per gram.

Alcohol is 7.


Cite for the nutritionist? Calling something “industrial waste” makes a nice impression, but 'tis often far from the truth. And nutritionists on a crusade are every bit as much a PITA as physicians.

Otherwise, there’s really not much difference between soda and juice on an observable level. The minimal nutritional value in juice (above and beyond the calories) has not been shown to be clinically significant unless one is suffering from scurvy and the juice contains vitamin C.

Bottom line: drink which one works best for you, but don’t drink a lot of it.

If I’ve time later, I’ll dig up one of the threads where a rather odd individual went off on a long rant about the evils of soda and the life-giving, restorative, curative virtues of fruit juice.

This is a great answer. Just wanted to add my concurrence.

Along with everything you said there is another reason orange juice may be better. Not only is our understanding of what nutrients we need and why incomplete, but we also aren’t entirely clear as to their interactions. An orange has hundreds of individual compounds in it, and potentially taking one of them in isolation is not as effective as taking it along with others it’s normally found with.

As far as juices other than OJ, one thing you can do is read the label. There was a time when we all gave children apple juice, which they liked, and we felt no guilt because, after all, it was fruit, and fruit is good for you, right? But if you look at the label, pretty much the only thing you’re getting is water and sugar, unless they’ve added some vitamin C, which is not always the case. So, yeah, in that case you might just as well feed, say 7-up or some other non-caffeinated soda.

When it comes to citrus drinks, most of them are rich in Vitamin C as well as other actual nutrients, in addition to the sugars. And you have to get a certain amount of C somewhere in your diet. A glass of OJ is a reasonable source.

We have two differences:

Soda uses HFCS. This has been accused of many bad things, but only one is solid- HFCS has an exceptionally low “satiety rating” which means drinking HFCS soda will not “fill you up” thus you drink more. IMHO this is the “real” reason why soda companies changed to HFCS from cane sugar. At the same time we also had the increase in size of sodas to “super-Big-Gulps”.

OJ with pulp has a modest but nice amount of valuable fibers. It also has bioflavinoids.

So, yes, it’s a tad better. But as our estimable QtM sez- they are both essentially sugar water.

I got nothing to add that I didn’t say in that thread. Repeatedly. Thanks! :wink:

Finally. Isn’t there a lot of fiber in OJ assuming that you don’t buy the pulp-free version? I started drinking a glass of OJ every morning to get more fiber in my diet. At the same time, I switched from two or three cans of soda a day to a lot of water.

As an aside, I’m lean and fit and have never had a cavity in my teeth. Would a lot of sugar be bad for me anyway?

What’s “a lot”? More than 75% of your total calories from Carbs is not recommended, and only 10% from “simple sugars” is “recommended”, OTOH, they suggest five peices of fruit a day. Nothing wrong with starting your day with a large glass of OJ (with pulp).
A single orange has 2.4 G of fiber. You lose some in making it OJ, of course.

*Choose whole fruit over juice. Fiber found mainly in the peel and pulp is removed to produce juice. Orange juice may have some pulp added back. Whole fruit is the best fiber choice among fruit. See Table 2, for Fiber Content in Common Foods. *

Table shows 1G.

[quote=“Qadgop_the_Mercotan, post:10, topic:463815”]

Cite for the nutritionist? Calling something “industrial waste” makes a nice impression, but 'tis often far from the truth. And nutritionists on a crusade are every bit as much a PITA as physicians…


Absolutely! Using blanket statements and hyperbole smacks of a hysterical conspiracy theory like the one you cite. But the nutritionist in question really wasn’t a fanatic. It’s simply her job to scare pre-surgery patients into being compliant post-surgery patients so that they don’t have complications and re-gain problems. I can’t think of her name right now (I can get it for you after I get home) but she’s on the staff of the bariatric center at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston, MA.

For most people, calling some food “industrial waste” is a bit overboard. But if you can only take in 200 calories at a time and you decide to do that repeatedly with a Pepsi, it can be disastrous. I have a diet soda now and then, but try not to let it take over my diet.

Also, I believe her comments about absorption of nutrients from vitamins and the caloric value of sugars (carbs) is right on, so it applies to everyone with or without fanatic exaggeration. My experience with sugar is that not only does it have the same affect weight/calorie-wise, but I’m also clearly absorbing it all the same no matter what the source. It all makes me puke. That’s 100% anecdotal so should be taken with a grain of salt.

Fructose is so called because it’s a big component of fruit sweetness. There are some differences in metabolism, but fresh fruit has always been recommended even to diabetics.

Focusing on only one detail can give a misleading picture.