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Americans are buying lots of orange juice to fight off colds and the flu — but it's the biggest con of your life

Business Insider logo Business Insider 2/9/2018 Erin Brodwin

orange juice breakfast fruit strawberries eating meal © Provided by Business Insider orange juice breakfast fruit strawberries eating meal Growing up, I cherished the lazy Saturday morning when I could eat breakfast in my pajamas and watch cartoons. Back then, it seemed every cereal ad included the phrase "Part of a complete breakfast!" — a meal made up of cereal, milk, and orange juice.

But orange juice shouldn't be part of a complete breakfast.

While the beverage has some vitamins, it also has an awful lot of sugar — a 12-ounce glass contains roughly the same sugar content as a can of Sprite or a bag of M&Ms.

More importantly, juicing fruit removes most of the fiber, which is the key ingredient that keeps you feeling full until your next meal. This is one of the reasons calories from sweetened beverages are often referred to as "empty calories," since they can increase hunger pangs and mood swings and leave you with low energy levels.

It also likely won't help you beat the common cold or the flu.

Orange juice won't help you heal from a cold or flu

This winter, as an especially bad flu epidemic has swept the US, people seem to have resumed drinking juice in the hope that it will help them fight off illness. Sales of the drink rose 0.9% in the four weeks ending on January 20,according to The Wall Street Journal — the first time in almost five years that Nielsen data showed a year-over-year increase.

But upping one's OJ intake won't help. Some studies suggest it could actually do more harm than good, since the juice is high in the sugar fructose, which some evidence suggests could actually suppress your immune system.

Many people believe that drinking juice is a good way to give the body vitamin C. While the vitamin is generally beneficial for your health, studies have found that it does nothing to prevent or treat the common cold. Plus, if you want to up your vitamin C consumption, a lot of other foods pack more of it than an orange. These include guava, red bell pepper, kale, and broccoli.

If you really want to take something to feel better while you're sick with a cold, studies suggest that zinc — not vitamin C — might be your best bet.

The mineral seems to interfere with the replication of rhinoviruses, the bugs that cause the common cold.

In a 2011 review of studies of people who'd recently gotten sick, researchers looked at those who'd started taking zinc and compared them with those who just took a placebo. The ones on zinc had shorter colds and less severe symptoms.

Slideshow: These are the 15 superfoods your kitchen needs in 2018 (Provided by PopSugar) 

These Are the 15 Superfoods Your Kitchen Needs in 2018: <p>In today's age of feeling good and eating better, it has become a common occurrence to find superfoods like <a href="https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Acai-Bowls-Good-You-43030803">acai</a>, chia, <a href="https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Raw-Cacao-Nibs-Health-Benefits-36961088">cacao</a>, and spirulina in our <a href="https://www.popsugar.com/food/Best-Grocery-Store-Every-State-43606009">local grocery stores</a>. Wellness cafes are abundant, and menus have become increasingly aware of the next great smoothie, herbal tea, and <a href="https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Best-Sugar-Alternatives-Baking-30861504">clean alternative</a>. Each year comes with its own <a href="https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Best-New-Healthy-Foods-2017-42697080">health-food trends</a>, and 2018 is no different. As we slowly but surely transition from <a href="https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Fall-Superfoods-44187037">Fall feasting</a> into an approaching new year with fresh, healthy resolutions, there are new <a href="https://www.popsugar.com/latina/Latin-American-Superfoods-43053813">superfoods</a> that we should all be keeping on our radar. From greens and <a href="https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Why-Gut-Health-Important-41541370">gut-healthy</a> go-tos to sweet options and <a href="https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Healthiest-Cooking-Oils-28306830">cooking oils</a> for every chef, foodie, or <a href="https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Things-Never-Say-Healthy-Eater-40101173">healthy eater</a>, these are some superfoods that deserve to be household names.</p> These Are the 15 Superfoods Your Kitchen Needs in 2018

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