Saturday, May 4, 2013

Is Fruit Juice Healthy?

My family loves orange juice, especially F's Orange Juice. The carton says it's freshly squeezed, it's not from concentrate, and it contains no additives. One day I got myself thinking, how can this orange juice taste consistently the same anywhere I buy it and at anytime of the year? Is it really as good as eating fresh-picked oranges, as what they market it to be? Research I went and learned something new.

Problems with fruit juice in general:

- Store-bought juice is not fresh as they claim to be. To make consistent taste of store-bought juice, manufacturers need to add flavor packs to re-flavor the orange juice that has been de-oxygenated. They do this so they can keep the juice for longer storage without spoiling. These flavor packs are not listed in the ingredient labels because the law doesn't require them to if its origin is from orange by-products.

- Juicing causes a spike in insulin (too much sugar). Whether home-made or store-bought, juice is high is fructose. Although we're getting the vitamins and minerals from fruit juice, juicing removes the naturally-occurring insoluble fiber that is needed to slow down the absorption of fructose, producing a gradual release of sugar into the blood. It takes about five oranges to make a glass of juice and normally one glass is not enough and you'll likely come back for a second glass. But would you be able eat five oranges in one seating? Generally not. And so that is the problem with juicing - we consume too much sugar.

- Juicing can result in poor digestion. Chewing actually begins the digestive process by mixing food (particularly carbohydrates) with saliva. The process of chewing and thoroughly tasting our food also sends signals to the digestive tract about what to expect in terms of nutrients and which enzymes will be needed to assimilate them. Juicing bypasses these mechanisms and can actually result in poor digestion. 

- It can cause tooth decay. Natural sugars in fruits can damage our tooth enamel. 

What about vegetable juice?

Sure, juicing vegetables that are low in sugar will not cause a spike in blood sugar and you will still get many of the vitamins and minerals. Green leafy vegetables contain substances that block mineral absorption and depress thyroid function when juiced. When these vegetables are cooked, those substances are neutralized. Cooking actually makes the minerals in vegetables much more available.

If you love your juice, a better option is making a homemade smoothie using a blender. That way freshness is guaranteed and you get to consume all the fiber that comes with the fruits and vegetables. You will likely to get fuller faster too when you consume your smoothie with all its fiber goodness. My family tries to eat whole fruits as much as possible and limit drinking fruit juice, as much as we love them. I don't make fruit juice for Elin. When the time comes, I know it will not be easy for her to not drink juice when her friends do so in school or parties. She might drink it once in a while and it's okay. I still drink juice once in a while. 

If you are juice-lovers, what reasons make you want to drink juices versus eating whole fruits or vegetables?

1 comment:

  1. Drinking juice is as simple as pouring the carton to a glass while eating whole fruits is a nuisance unless someone cuts the fruit, clean the knife, clean the cutting board...... hihihihi