A couple of weeks ago we wrote about the sacred cow of OJ nutrition being mercilessly slayed over at the Los Angeles Times. To quickly remind you – the theme is that Orange Juice is high in sugar, low in fiber, and contains vitamins and minerals that are abundant in a normal diet – overall it does more bad than good for most people.
The Florida Department of Citrus was obviously not happy with all this OJ negativity. They sent a letter to LA Times reporter, Karen Kaplan, respectfully disagreeing with the articles content. They also sent copies to blogs such as Fooducate. (download WORD doc here).
As an additional measure, the Citrus folks enlisted a dietitian, Gail Rampersaud, to write letters to all the skeptics, extolling the virtues of the Juice. An LA Times Article from Wednesday brings the dietitian’s letter, and a response from one of the skeptics, Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at UC San Francisco. It’s pretty much a re-run of previous arguments, with a few additional twists.
- One glass counts as a fruit serving.
- Good source of vitamin C, which many people don’t get enough of.
- Citrus juices are more nutrient dense than apple or pineapple juices.
- 100% OJ is free of added sugar.
- The majority of kids are not getting enough fruit in their diet. A study showed that kids 2-11 who drank OJ were likely to be consuming more fruit as well.
- The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recognized the nutritional importance of including 100% orange juice in the diet.
- The problem is not with fruit, it’s with juice.
- Juice has no fiber.
- Half the calories are from fructose (a sugar). Fructose in high quantities is a burden on the human metabolism.
And you just have to love Dr. Lustig’s eloquence:
The upside of juice consumption is so infinitesimal compared to the downside that we shouldn’t even be having this discussion.
In his response letter he further writes:
I am not against fruit. As far as I am concerned, the most important nutrient contained in fruit (not just citrus, but any fruit) is fiber. “The juice is Nature’s way of getting you to eat your fiber.” Thus, I am not against fruit; indeed I am for it. So the Florida Department of Citrus can rest easy in terms of the citrus crop.
The problem with Florida’s department of citrus is that there’s way too many oranges produced. Too much for people to consume as fruit. So we got juice.
Can anyone else think of a surplus crop whose processing has turned into a profitable business with an unhealthy downside?
If you answered corn and high fructose corn syrup – give yourself a pat on the back.
What to do at the supermarket:
I am still torn by the saddening news that orange juice is not that healthy after all. Decades of programing my brain that this is healthy cannot be erased overnight. That said, in our family the issue is not so critical because we drink tap water 99% of the time. My kids can have whatever they want the rest of the time.
If you are debating between soda pop and orange juice – go for the juice.
If you’re debating between orange juice and water – go for water. And if that’s too hard, you can always water down a glass of OJ and halve the sugar content in an instant.
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