How OJ Helps You Through A Fast Food Meal

April 13, 2010


Ever wondered why fast food places also sell healthy orange juice along with their high fat, high-carbohydrate fast-food meals? They may not know it, but by eating foods containing flavonoids, particularly orange juice, with such meals it helps neutralise the oxidative and inflammatory stress generated by the such food and helps prevent blood vessel damage.

Endocrinologists at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York, studied the effect of the preventative effect of orange juice on the risk of heart attack and stroke. Free radicals are known to induce inflammation in blood vessel linings and contribute to those conditions and they believed orange juice might be a key as it is heavily loaded with the flavonoids naringenin and hesperidin, which are major antioxidants.

They found that drinking orange juice with a meal high in fat and carbohydrates prevented the marked increases in inflammatory agents and that did not happen when study participants drank water or a sugary drink with the meal. The high dose of free radicals in fast food meals are a risk because the resultant high glucose and high triglycerides are known to be related to the development of cardiovascular events.

So what did the study subjects eat? It was based it on a typical fast food 900-calorie breakfast composed of an egg “muffin” sandwich, a sausage “muffin” sandwich and a serving of hash browns. The meal contained 81 grams of carbohydrates, 51 grams of fat and 32 grams protein.

Along with the breakfast, one group drank 300 calories of “not-from-concentrate” orange juice, a second group drank a 300-calorie glucose drink and the third group drank an equal amount of water. All participants were given 15 minutes to finish their food and drink. Blood samples were collected before the meal and at 1, 3 and 5 hours afterwards.

Analysis of the samples after the meal showed that oxygen free radicals increased an average of 62 percent with water, 63 percent with the glucose and 47 percent with orange juice. There also was an increase in blood components known as toll-like receptors, which play an important role in the development of inflammation, atherosclerosis, obesity, insulin resistance, and injury to cardiac cells than can occur after a blocked vessel is reopened. Orange juice also prevented a significant increase in SOCS-3, an important mediator of insulin resistance, which contributes to development of type 2 diabetes.

So if you are having a fast food meal make sure you get a glass of real orange juice to mitigate the damage, but I have to say that starting the day with a 900 calorie fat and carbohydrate feast is not the best way to stay healthy. Couldn’t they just have suggested halving the calorie count and having orange juice as a better option?


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