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Getting your seven a day: How 100% orange juice can help

Dr Mary McCreery
Written by: Dr Mary McCreery
Consultant Clinical Nutritionist and Dietician at the Blackrock Clinic
21/04/2017

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For years, it was a long-standing rule of thumb for health professionals to advise that we consume five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. The recent changes to Ireland’s food pyramid have altered this recommendation to between five and seven daily portions as part of a balanced diet. 

But a study from last year shows that actually only one in four of us Irish adults is getting our five a day. This won’t come as a surprise to many as the pressures of daily life, work and family often interfere with our dietary planning.

This begs the question: if consuming five portions of fruit and vegetables was often an uphill struggle, how then will we manage to consume seven portions?
 
First of all, it’s important to note that the new healthy eating guidelines are certainly useful: eating habits in Ireland are not as good as they should be. As a country, we are consuming too many foods that are high in sugar, fat and salt, and not enough fruit and vegetables.
 

Not only one of our 7 a day

The new Department of Health guidelines have made fruit and vegetables the largest ‘shelf’ of the updated food pyramid, but this is not limited to whole fruits and vegetables; the pyramid also includes 100% natural fruit juice, which can often be confused with juices containing added sugar, or juice ‘from concentrate’.
 
When considering 100% fruit juice, many consumers don’t know that a small glass of juice is one of our recommended daily portions of fruit and vegetables. In fact, it seems that there is quite a lot about 100% fruit juice, and orange juice in particular, that we don’t know.
 
While most of us are aware of the high vitamin C content of 100% orange juice, many may not know of the other benefits orange juice can provide for your health. Now there is a new body of scientific research to prove that not only is 100% orange juice one of your ‘seven a day’, it is much more besides.
 
A number of recent scientific studies show that a daily small glass of 100% orange juice can help in many ways that we would never previously have thought.

According to the research, a small glass of orange juice every day may have a positive effect on obesity, and may even increase cognitive function in older people. 

The elderly are not the only ones who benefit from orange juice, though; there is evidence which proves that 100% orange juice can improve the diets of children and younger adults also. 

Healthy lifestyle

Orange juice is often lumped into the same bracket as fizzy drinks, but despite what many of us may think, the research proves that drinking 100% orange juice does not have any association weight gain.

In fact, the research goes so far to say that it “does not appear to negatively impact body weight or body composition in children and adults”.

These days there is more emphasis on eating well and enjoying a healthy lifestyle than ever before. All of us understand the importance of a balanced diet, but that doesn’t make it any easier for us to get the nutrition we need at those times when other factors get in the way.

With the weight of science and research building, maybe it’s time we started thinking of a glass of orange juice as more than just something reserved for the breakfast table.

100% orange juice has been on our supermarket shelves for decades but it’s only now that we are realising that as well as being a rich source of vitamin C and nutrients, it offers much more.

Perhaps most importantly though, it can also be a key ingredient towards getting our ‘seven a day’ and enjoying a balanced diet – in spite of all the pressures of daily life.

For further information, please visit Fruit Juice Matters.

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