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Turns Out, Your Favorite Juice May Actually Fight Inflammation, New Study Says

There’s little reason not to enjoy an occasional glass with your morning bowl of oatmeal.
FACT CHECKED BY Joseph Neese

Countless people start their day with a glass of orange juice—and for good reason. This quintessential breakfast staple is loaded with several important vitamins and nutrients like vitamin C and potassium.

While vitamin C works wonders for the immune system and potassium can be a big asset when it comes to blood pressure regulation, plenty of scientific research tells us that orange juice is the fruit drink that just keeps giving from a health perspective. One recent study published in the Journal of Lipid Research reveals that a specific molecule found in oranges may be capable of both reversing obesity and lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke. Moreover, the authors theorize that it only takes roughly two and a half glasses of orange juice to start enjoying those benefits.

So, regardless of whether you're a pulp or a no-pulp person, there's little reason not to enjoy at least an occasional glass of OJ with your morning eggs or oatmeal. However, if you're in need of another motivator to pick up a carton, look no further than the new research published in the scientific journal Advances in Nutrition. Read on to learn more—then stick around for Side Effects of Drinking Too Much Orange Juice, According to Science.

Inflammation-fighting potential

After analyzing numerous prior relevant research projects, the study's authors conclud that 100% orange juice has major inflammation and oxidative stress-fighting potential among adults. The "potential" caveat is an important distinction here, as researchers stress their work is preliminary in nature. Put another way, while this report in and of itself cannot definitively state that orange juice always reduces bodily inflammation, it makes a strong case for that argument and sets the stage for more extensive research on this topic in the near future.

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"We know that 100% orange juice contains a number of nutrients like vitamin C, as well as beneficial bioactive compounds that have the potential to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress," says Gail Rampersaud, a dietician with the Florida Department of Citrus, which funded this research. "This review tells us that some studies find benefits with 100% orange juice, but we need more data and large well-designed studies to make more definitive conclusions."

Interleukin 6

The research team, which includes scientists from George Mason University and Tufts University, reports that drinking 100% orange juice appears to significantly reduce levels of interleukin 6 in the bodies of both generally healthy and high-risk adults. Another two inflammatory and oxidative stress markers also appear to decline in response to orange juice consumption, albeit not as much. Interleukin 6 is considered a major marker of bodily inflammation, and it is associated with a myriad of diseases like arthritis, cancer, and diabetes.

Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress

Inflammation can be defined as the body's immune system kicking into overdrive, and comes in two varieties: acute and chronic. Short-term, or acute, inflammation serves to help fight off infections, injuries, and pathogens. If you ever bruised or cut your leg and the surrounding area puffed up and become tender, that was acute inflammation. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is long-lasting and can be more subtle—but it still places the immune system in a constant state of hypervigilance. This prolonged immune activation can lead to immune cells attacking healthy organs and tissues, and like interleukin 6, is linked to numerous chronic conditions like heart disease and obesity.

Oxidative stress, meanwhile, is an imbalance of antioxidants and free radicals within the body. If left unchecked, oxidative stress is known to cause chronic inflammation, as well.

The research

Scientists performed a qualitative scoping review of 21 prior studies focusing on 100% orange juice and inflammation. That dataset encompassed 307 adults deemed healthy and another 327 considered to be at high risk of disease. From there, another 16 studies analyzing the six most reported inflammation-related biomarkers were reviewed, as well as an additional 10 research projects that met the minimum data parameters.

Notably, this work also gels quite nicely with prior FDOC research concluding that hesperidin, the primary bioactive compound found in oranges and orange juice, can help reduce bodily levels of both inflammation and oxidative stress.

In summation, while study authors cannot definitely state at this point that orange juice always actively and directly reduces bodily inflammation, they can conclude that 100% orange juice either helps or at very least has no effect one way or another on bodily inflammation. A more extensive orange juice clinical trial is already set to begin shortly.

"This analysis is especially helpful as we and others plan future research related to orange juice," Rampersaud concludes.

Read more about everyone's favorite juice:

John Anderer
John Anderer is a writer who specializes in science, health, and lifestyle topics. Read more