New Research from Illinois Tech Shows Orange Juice Byproducts Provide Extra Nutritional Benefits



By Jamie Loo

CHICAGO, June 22, 2021 – A glass of orange juice could provide nearly the same health benefits as eating a whole orange with some changes to the orange juice-making process, according to new research from Illinois Institute of Technology.

Health experts and nutritionists have long cautioned the public about substituting orange juice in place of a serving of fruit because of sugar. The study’s findings are significant because reformulating orange juice could boost its nutritional value and lead it to play a stronger role in a healthy diet, says Illinois Tech Professor of Food Science and Nutrition Indika Edirisinghe.

During the orange juice-making process, the fruit’s pulp and rind produces a fiber-rich byproduct called orange pomace. The orange pomace is removed from most commercially sold orange juice, which decreases its nutritional value. Additionally, the natural sugars and lack of fiber in some orange juice products can lead to spikes in blood glucose and glycemic levels, which should be monitored for those individuals who are diabetic or pre-diabetic.

In this new study, researchers tested the blood glucose levels of 65 healthy adults hours after they consumed 100 percent orange juice alone, juice with orange pomace, and a whole fruit orange. Edirisinghe says participants who had the juice with orange pomace saw a biologically significant 6.2 percent decrease in their maximal glucose concentration; those who ate the whole orange saw an 8 percent reduction. 

“The [United States] population’s fiber consumption is significantly low. Fiber has a significant impact on your overall health, reducing diabetes, reducing cardiovascular disease, reducing cancer, and a lot of other chronic diseases,” Edirisinghe says. “Eating a whole orange is still the most healthy option, but new orange juice products with pomace could provide people with a quick way to get at least one serving of fruit into their daily diet.”

The study was conducted in partnership with researchers at PepsiCo, which approached Illinois Tech for its food science expertise.

The study, titled “Addition of Orange Pomace Attenuates the Acute Glycemic Response to Orange Juice in Healthy Adults,” was published in the Journal of Nutrition in March.

Edirisinghe says the Illinois Tech team also worked with PepsiCo on a study that examines apple pomace, the byproduct of apples in the apple juice-making process. He anticipates that study will be released later this year.