The Surprising Drink That Should Replace Your Orange Juice

We didn't always drink orange juice with our breakfast. The rise of the breakfast orange juice can largely be attributed to a celebrity campaign celebrating the health benefits of OJ around the 1920s (via Medibank). Its major selling point was vitamin C (via The Chicago Tribune). Concentrated orange juice, as was most common at the time, went through some rather creative processes to maintain shelf stability and flavor, including pasteurization and a method of evaporation involving a vacuum. But the drink caught on. 

In the 1980s, the idea of orange juice "NFC," or "not from concentrate," became an even bigger thing, as people quested for a juice closer to the original fruit. Unfortunately, that was also highly processed. But even the freshly squeezed variety has the disadvantage of a bunch of sugar – a glass of OJ can have 20.8 grams of sugar and doesn't pack the fiber of whole fruit to slow down sugar absorption.

But is orange juice really the best juice for our breakfast nutrition? The answer depends on a few factors. Check your allergies and food sensitivities – you don't want to add itchy irritation to your regular food staples. Next, consider what nutrients may be missing from your daily diet. If you're looking to add vitamin C, you might be surprised that tomato juice can be a better choice than orange juice.

A cup of tomato juice has more vitamin C than orange juice

The great tomato doesn't get enough credit for nutrition, and we think that should change. A single glass of tomato juice has 170 milligrams of vitamin C. That's 188.9 percent of your daily recommended value (via Medical News Today). Orange juice only has 124 milligrams for the same glass, and pink grapefruit a mere 93.9 – so no, the bitter taste isn't more vitamins. You can think of vitamin C as an immune system boost because it aids immune cells called lymphocytes in the process of forming B- and T-cells, which play specific roles in defending against foreign substances that enter your body. It also prevents the now-rare symptoms of scurvy.

Tomato juice may also be lower in added sugars than many other fruit juices (make sure you check the label), though you'll want to look out for high amounts of added sodium. In addition to vitamin C, tomato juice is rich in B vitamins, potassium, and antioxidants like lycopene (via Healthline).

And if all that's holding you back from trying a tomato twist in the morning is the taste, consider leveling up with a virgin Bloody Mary. Skip the alcohol but keep the flavor by adding lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tobasco, and celery salt (via The Spruce Eats). Garnish it with an olive, celery stalk, or pickle spear, and you can say you ate your vegetables this morning too!