What’s one of my top habits to keep myself and my family healthy all winter long? A supercharged breakfast. In my house, that means a hard-boiled egg atop sprouted whole grain toast or a bowl of steel cut oatmeal topped with almonds and sunflower seeds. Paired with a piece of seasonal fruit, it’s washed down with a glass of Florida orange juice.
I have long had a love affair with 100% orange juice. It’s my chance to enjoy the taste and nutrition of the Florida groves, right in my glass. That choice not only packs an impressive list of health benefits in a glass, but it also offers an easy and tasty way to add an extra serving of fruit to my family’s day. As a nutritionist, I love that, in addition to being a part of the USDA Dietary Guidelines, a glass of 100% juice also makes the grade for “deep health” according to the Harvard School of Public Health’s Healthy Eating Plate (see graphic below).
So what’s on your breakfast table these days? As we head into the colder, longer days of winter (with farmers markets a distant memory for many of us), here are 5 reasons to think of adding a serving of 100% Florida orange juice to help brighten your diet-and your day:
The Amazing Five
In the 1970s, a visit to the Sunshine State wasn’t complete without stopping by a grove for a glass of fresh-squeezed juice. Today, Florida citrus is still handpicked from farmer-owned groves at its peak for a rich orange flavor and an amazing, unmistakable taste. In our global supermarkets, I like knowing where my juice is coming from — and I love how it tastes like sunshine in a glass.
2. Vitamin C.
Perhaps the best-known nutrient of the bunch, vitamin C is an antioxidant that plays a key role in optimizing the body’s immune function. This is why foods rich in Vitamin C often top the list of flu-fighting strategies during the winter months, along with things like plenty of sleep and hand washing (an 8 oz. glass of 100% orange juice packs more than 100% of your of daily Vitamin C needs). Vitamin C is also an essential building block for healthy connective tissue, wound healing and repair, and can help the body to better absorb non-heme iron from other foods you eat.
An essential mineral that helps regulate the body’s fluid balance, potassium also helps to power muscle contractions and promotes a healthy blood pressure. Diets rich in potassium-rich foods are linked with lower rates of stroke and hypertension. Yet, because we often fall short on fruits and veggies in favor of other foods, over 90% of Americans don’t get enough potassium in their diets for optimal health and nutrition. In fact, it’s one of four “nutrients of concern” identified by the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans. An 8 oz. glass of 100% orange juice delivers as much potassium as a medium banana.
100% orange juice is a good source of folate, an important B-vitamin that’s key for producing healthy red blood cells as well as the production and growth of new cells. Evidence suggests that diets rich in folate are protective against heart disease and certain types of cancer. And, during pregnancy, moms especially need folate: it plays a vital role in the development of the baby’s brain and spinal cord.
5. No Added Sugar.
This one is perhaps the most important to me of all, as both a mother and a nutritionist. The evidence is considerable that sugar-sweetened beverages can undermine our metabolic health and our weight; according to the USDA, sodas, sports drinks, fruit drinks and energy drinks now provide over 35% of added sugars in the US diet. But 100% orange juice contains no added sugars and delivers an impressive array of nutrients — and, when enjoyed in appropriate serving sizes, 100% orange juice offers nutrient-rich hydration as well.
You might just say there’s Amazing inside. And the best part is that, when you consume a variety of nutrient rich foods like that, it sets the stage to usher in your highest levels of health, so that you can unleash something amazing inside of YOU.