Good old OJ is enjoyed around the world, and it’s naturally high in vitamin C and potassium, while commercial varieties are often enriched with calcium and vitamin D.

There has been some debate about whether orange juice forms part of a healthy diet, but here are five reasons to keep drinking it.

1. Nutrient Rich

Orange juice is a great source of vitamin C, which is a water-soluble vitamin and powerful antioxidant. It also plays a role in healthy immune system functioning, bone formation, wound healing and gum health.

Orange juice is also an excellent source of potassium, which regulates blood pressure, stops bone loss, and protects against heart disease and stroke. It also contains folate, which is necessary for DNA synthesis, as well as fetal growth and development.

2. Packed with Antioxidants

The antioxidants in OJ promote health by stopping oxidative damage. This is an imbalance between antioxidants and unstable molecules known as free radicals.

Antioxidants may even protect against some chronic conditions, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, research suggests. The antioxidants in orange juice include flavonoids, carotenoids and ascorbic acid.

An 8-week study found that drinking 750ml of orange juice every day increased antioxidant levels significantly. Another study showed similar findings in 24 adults with high cholesterol and triglycerides.

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3. Could Protect Against Kidney Stones

Kidney stones can cause severe pain, nausea or blood in the urine, and they are made out of small mineral deposits that accumulate over time in the kidneys.

Studies have shown that a higher, more acidic urinary pH may help prevent kidney stones, and because orange juice is acidic, it can increase the pH of urine.

One study showed that orange juice was more effective than lemonade in reducing kidney stone risk factors.

4. May Improve Heart Health

Heart disease causes over 17 million deaths worldwide each year, but orange juice may help reduce the risk of it developing.

Some studies found that orange juice may reduce risk factors for heart disease, like high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Long term consumption of orange juice lowered levels of total and also the dangerous LDL cholesterol in one study of 129 people.

Orange juice has also been linked with increasing the levels of helpful HDL cholesterol in people with elevated cholesterol levels, which could benefit heart health.

5. Could Decrease Inflammation

Inflammation is a normal immune system response, and it’s designed to protect us against disease and infection. Long term, high levels of inflammation, however, is though to add to the development of chronic diseases like heart disease, certain cancers and metabolic syndrome.

One study found that orange juice has anti-inflammatory properties that could reduce levels of specific inflammatory markers that are linked to chronic disease.

The Downsides of Orange Juice

While orange juice has health benefits, it’s also high in sugar and calories, while being low in fiber.

Multiple studies found that regular consumption of fruit juices can lead to extra weight gain in the long run. Many types of orange juice also contain high levels of added sugar, which can increase blood sugar levels, and is linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

To maximize the health benefits, have fresh-squeezed orange juice when possible, and if you are watching the calories, try diluting orange juice with water.

Children shouldn’t have more than 118ml per day for toddlers, 177ml for those aged 4-6, and 240ml for kids aged 7-18.