Orange juice, a.k.a. OJ, has long been a staple in most consumers’ homes, and a product many fluid milk dairies process and package, too. Though OJ is not going away, it is losing refrigerated shelf space to juices made from one or more so-called super fruits.
What makes them super fruits? Most important is their high antioxidant content. After that it is often the presence of specific nutrients linked to health and wellness, such as amino acids and essential fatty acids. Lastly, many super fruits are associated with some long-held cultural belief or folklore. Take for example açaí (ah-sigh-ee), an antioxidant-rich berry that grows wild in the Brazilian Amazon. Legend says that Amazon warriors relied on the power of açaí to fight wars and defend their land.
Açaí tastes like a blend of berries and chocolate. It is said to have significantly more antioxidants than blueberries, pomegranates and red wine, as well as be rich in essential omega-6 fatty acids, fiber, protein and calcium. Often açaí is blended with another super fruit that consumers are more familiar with in order to ensure a positive flavor experience.
Blueberries are one of these fruits. Of all the berries, blueberries are the lowest in carbohydrates and the lowest on the glycemic scale. They are also a good source of fiber.
Then there’s the pomegranate. Pomegranate juice has become so trendy, it is being used as a mixer at bars and nightclubs.
As mentioned, OJ is not going away. But there is more activity in enhancing OJ with functional ingredients. For example, Tropicana Products Inc., a division of PepsiCo Inc., Purchase, N.Y., introduces Tropicana Healthy Heart with Omega-3s. The juice includes encapsulated, marine-based eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) fatty acids.
“Orange juice is a perfect food to make it easier for people to consume more omega-3s in the diet,” says Mark Andon, director of nutrition for Tropicana. “Orange juice is the most popular juice in America and the benefits of drinking Tropicana Healthy Heart with Omega-3s build on the other heart health benefits of orange juice, including it being a sodium and saturated-fat-free food and supplying a good source of potassium.”
Tropicana’s biggest competitor-Minute Maid-is adding glucosamine to its OJ. In March the Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, launched Minute Maid Active Pure Squeezed Orange Juice, which contains 750mg of glucosamine per serving. According to the company, two 8-fl-oz-servings deliver 1,500mg of glucosamine, which is the typical daily amount of glucosamine that has been demonstrated in clinical studies to be efficacious in helping support joint function.
“Joint health is a very common concern for consumers who lead active lifestyles,” says Allison Barrett, Minute Maid senior brand manager. Indeed, an active lifestyle, participation in impact sports and aging can wear down joint cartilage. Glucosamine, a molecule naturally produced in the human body by cellular metabolism, is an important constituent of connective tissues, such as joints. It is a key building block of joint cartilage and joint fluid and is used by millions of people to promote mobility and joint health. Numerous animal and in vitro studies, as well as numerous human clinical trials, have demonstrated the positive benefits of glucosamine.
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