Now You Know That O.J. Is Really Good For You

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Your mother always told you to drink your milk. Now, a new generation of kids is getting a whole new reminder: Drink your orange juice.

And mothers, as we all know, always seem to know best. Certain health benefits have long been attributed to the king of breakfast juices: It's rich in vitamin C and certain antioxidants. And Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration granted juide giant Tropicana the right to put a new assertion on its packaging: Thanks to its rich potassium content, orange juice may help your heart, and lower the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

Potassium, which is also found in bananas, has been found to be helpful in lowering blood pressure, in part because of its ability to maintain normal heart rhythm, water balance and muscle contractions in the body. Doctors estimate that more than 80 percent of Americans don't get their daily recommendation of 400 milligrams of potassium — a problem easily solved by drinking one 450-milligram glass of o.j. every day.

Orange juice, once considered merely tasty and refreshing, is making serious inroads into the health drink market: In the past five years, orange juice distributors, caught in an increasingly tight marketplace, have been ratcheting up health claims and injecting their juices with all sorts of vitamins and minerals. Tropicana, a subdivision of Pepsi-Cola, first shook up the market back in 1997 by adding calcium to its formulations, and pushing its product as a healthy alternative for the lactose intolerant and other milk-phobics.

And although any orange juice company is free to add the potassium claim to their own marketing materials, Tropicana has achieved a real coup by being first — in no small part because they actually wrangled a ruling out of the FDA in under 10 years.