Juicing Up Your Brain: A Single Glass Of Orange Juice Can Boost Your Cognitive Function
By Kurtis Bright
Good Old Orange Juice May Be a Breakfast Staple, But it Has Surprising Health Benefits We're Only Beginning to Discover
It may not be exotic, but when it comes to breakfast time in the U.S. at least, orange juice is a deliciously common way to start the day.
Which is probably part of the reason why it often gets overlooked for just how great it really is for you: we all know it’s a great source of vitamin C, but humble OJ also contains tons of antioxidants, as well as carotenoids and flavonoids.
And a recent study from the U.K. shows that as little as single glass of orange juice can even improve your cognitive function.
Conducted at the University of Reading, the study found that male, middle-aged participants who sipped as little as 240 ml of orange juice showed significantly improved scores for attention, executive function and psychomotor speed. These results continued for a full six hours after consumption, as compared to a placebo group. (Which makes one wonder: what does an orange juice placebo consist of?)
Although it wasn’t specifically addressed in this study, orange juice also contains the carotenoids lutein as well as zeaxanthin, compounds believed to be vital in preventing age-related macular degeneration as well as cognitive impairment in the elderly.
Some dieticians have in recent years recommended that their clients ease off on drinking a lot of juice due to its sugar content, suggesting instead that people eat the actual fruit, which also contains the fiber that is vital to conferring its health benefits.
The thing is though, when taken in small doses, juice has proven uniquely beneficial, above and beyond the benefits you get from eating the fruit alone. Recent studies like the one from Reading--which was published in the European Journal of Nutrition--show that the benefits of long-term orange juice consumption does indeed provide antioxidants, lowers cholesterol levels and even prevents increases in endotoxins when taken after meals high in fat and carbs.
Another important distinction to make--apart from stressing that one should still eat plenty of actual oranges and other fruits in addition to drinking OJ--is that pasteurized orange juice shows radically reduced carotenoid and vitamin C content, up to 20 percent lower than that of the fresh-squeezed variety.
The sad fact is that big-name store brands often add not only sugar, but also artificial flavorings, preservatives and other byproducts that you don’t really need or want, so always try to get the fresh-squeezed kind.
And if there can be said to be one solid selling point to drinking fresh-squeezed juice versus eating oranges it is that the bioavailability of carotenoids is elevated by as 30 percent when you drink fresh-squeezed juice.
So get juiced up and get your brain going, but also make sure to eat plenty of oranges and other fresh fruit to keep your body’s immune system firing on all cylinders as the winter cold season kicks in.