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OJ is OK: Tropicana re-emphasises nutritional benefits of juices

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Last week, Tropicana invited delegates to the sun-kissed shores of Florida to discuss the health benefits of "nature's original neutraceutical". Hugh Westbrook reports from the From Grove to Glass - Nutrition in the 21st Century conference and finds the juice market ready to tackle cholesterol through to cancer.

It may be time to regard a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice as something more than just a tasty drink to have with your toast in the morning. Florida-based juice company Tropicana is determined that a wider audience should know the full health benefits of "nature's original neutraceutical."

More than just Vitamin C, fresh orange juice provides a range of nutrients and vitamins, each of which carries significant health benefits. The US Food and Drug Administration handed Tropicana a licence in October last year to carry the claim that: "Diets containing foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke."

Tropicana research has indicated that 94% of adults in the US did not know that orange juice contains potassium, while 95% were unaware that increased potassium could help to lower blood pressure and therefore related diseases. It is better known that being sodium-free is beneficial and Tropicana juice can carry that claim, as it is not made from concentrate.

The potassium statement is typical of the new breed of health claim, where a food is promoted not so much for what it doesn't have, such as low-fat, but for the beneficial nutrient which it does contain. And doctors are pleased that a product as popular as Tropicana is now promoting the potassium message.

Emphasising the health benefits of orange juice should also do nothing but good for Tropicana's marketing.

Information about potassium was part of the nutritional analysis of orange juice presented to delegates at From Grove to Glass - Nutrition in the 21st Century, a conference in March organised by Tropicana to highlight nutritional benefits to health from a variety of food and drinks.

Dr. Carla McGill

Tropicana's Principal Nutrition Scientist, Carla McGill, demonstrated that an 8oz glass of freshly squeezed orange juice contains a number of benefits, further emphasising a shift towards positive health messages.

Aside from containing more than the daily recommendation of Vitamin C, which among other things helps with cuts and the immune system, it also contains 15% of the daily value of folate. The importance of folate to women planning or carrying babies is well known, but it is also helpful in cell production, while bringing about a decrease in homocysteine, the presence of which can lead to heart problems.

Orange juice also contains Thiamine, which helps convert carbohydrates to energy; Niacin, which helps with energy production; and Vitamin B6, which helps the body make various important substances such as insulin.

This is not the end of the nutritional message. Dr McGill described "a new crop of nutrients" known as phytochemicals, which are plant chemicals, more than 170 of which are present in orange juice. She described it as an area, which is just beginning to be understood.


While many Americans are aware of the need to eat in a certain way, awareness does not equate to action

However, she cited Carotenoids, which help with eyes and preventing prostate cancer; Limonoids, which also have an anti-cancer activity; and Flavonoids, which also have an anti-cancer function and extend the action of Vitamin C.

Dr McGill was keen to make the point that simply drinking orange juice is not going to make all of a person's health problems go away, and that other fruit and vegetables need to form part of the recommended 'five a day' concept, which is gaining international currency. Nevertheless, consuming it as part of a balanced, healthy diet could give a person more chance of preventing a number of diseases.

So why does Tropicana feel the need to promote the health benefits of orange juice? A number of speakers pointed out that while many Americans are aware of the need to eat in a certain way, awareness does not equate to action, while Dr McGill suggested that health messages are getting more complicated and that 43% of Americans are tired of being told what to eat. She added that nearly 45% of Americans eat the recommended five a day fruit and vegetables. But when it is pointed out that the top two are iceberg lettuce and chips, the figure is somewhat less impressive.

As well as orange juice being nutrient-packed in its own right, Tropicana also sells an orange juice containing FruitCal, which adds extra calcium to the mix. It also stresses that grapefruit juice contains potassium, folate, thiamine and niacin, though not in the same quantities as orange juice.

The status of grapefruit juice is interesting, as it has been shown to inhibit the action of some drugs, such as those involved with lowering cholesterol. The reason for this has not yet been established, but it demonstrates that eating for health can carry side effects in the same way that medication can and that claims about a healthy diet have to be tailored to individuals.

Tropicana has succeeded in publicising the health benefits of orange juice. It will be interesting to see how the sales of freshly squeezed juices are affected as a result.

OJ is OK: Tropicana re-emphasises nutritional benefits of juices

Canadean have recently published their new "Global Juice & Nectars Report 2000" providing further details on global juice consumption and market trends. Visit:
/store/products_detail.asp?art=11541


Companies: Tropicana

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