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Juice Up Your Diet (Juice Details)
Squeeze extra nutrients into your diet with
fruit and vegetable juices.
Eating fruits and vegetables helps keep you healthy
and protects against disease, but it's not always easy to consume as
much produce as experts advise. Fortunately, juices can be a convenient
way to squeeze in extra servings. Six ounces -- just 3/4 cup of juice
-- counts as one serving of a fruit or vegetable.
"Fruit and vegetable juices are excellent natural sources of vitamins
and minerals and, in moderation, can be part of a healthy diet,"
says Barry W. Ritz, PhD, a nutritional immunology researcher at Drexel
University in Pennsylvania. "Compounds found in fruit and vegetable
juices appear to have widespread positive effects on health."
And the variety of juices available today helps expand our palates,
too. Besides longtime favorites such as orange, grape, and apple juice,
"now we have exotic juices made from things like pomegranate or
blueberry or lychee," Ritz says.
But does juice provide the same nutritional benefits as the whole food
from which it is extracted? Does it matter whether juice is fresh squeezed,
bottled or canned, frozen, made from concentrate, or found in a juice
cocktail or drink?
What are the nutritional benefits of
Juice provides many -- but not all -- of the benefits you'd obtain from
eating whole fruit or vegetables. Nutrients in fruit juices vary, depending
on what was in the fruit before it was pressed and what, if anything,
has been added to the juice.
Many fruit juices contain potassium, which helps balance sodium in the
diet and lowers blood pressure. Vitamin C in some fruit juices helps
heal cuts and bruises, prevents infection, and aids in the absorption
of iron (helping our bodies use the iron we get from foods), and vitamin
A benefits eye and skin health. Carbohydrates from natural sugars in
100 percent juice provide energy, and the water content in juice helps
meet fluid requirements. Fruits and vegetables have beneficial antioxidants
(nutrients such as polyphenols, quercetin, anthocyanins) -- thousands
have been identified so far -- and 100 percent juices contain an array
of these compounds, which aren't listed in the Nutrition Facts panel
of the product.
On the other hand, a key loss in processing fruit to juice is fiber,
which, in addition to controlling cholesterol levels and aiding digestion,
also helps slow consumption and increases satiety. "It takes longer
to consume an apple than to drink the equivalent amount of apple juice,"
Ritz explains. You miss out on certain antioxidants, too, says University
of Arkansas food scientist Luke Howard, PhD. When fruit is pressed to
extract juice, some antioxidants are left behind when fruit skins and
seeds are removed. Also, vegetable juices may be high in sodium due
to added salt, which is sometimes used as a preservative and flavor
enhancer; look for versions with less sodium.
Why does juice have more calories than fruit?
"The increase in calories is due to the increased percentage of
sugar as a proportion of the juice," Ritz says. "Even if you
have 100 percent juice with no added sugar, by removing fiber and all
the different components of the fruit that do not make it into the juice,
you're left with a higher concentration of sugar." More sugar means
more calories. One serving (1/2 cup) of grapes contains 31 calories
-- a fraction of the 116 calories found in a serving (6 ounces) of grape
juice. What's more, the average individual juice bottle size is 16 ounces.
One 16-ounce bottle yields 2.6 servings and 308 calories total.
What is the difference between "100
percent juice" and "juice drink" or "juice cocktail"?
The difference is determined by the amount of juice the drink contains.
Only 100 percent juice can be labeled "juice." (Mixed juices
can be labeled "100 percent juice" if each of the juices added
to the mixture is, itself, a 100 percent juice, Howard says.) Anything
less than 100 percent juice must be labeled under another name. Juice
"drink," "beverage," "cocktail," "punch,"
"blend," and "sparkler" products might contain as
little as 10 percent or as much as 99 percent juice. The rest is water
or added sweeteners. Check the label to find out how much juice such
products contain. The ingredients must be listed on the label in order
of volume. The lower a juice appears on the ingredients list, the less
there is of it in the drink.
What does "from concentrate"
mean and how does it affect the juice's nutrient profile?
Juice made from concentrate is the same as the original juice. The only
thing missing is most of the water. Extracting water reduces juice volume
and weight, making it easier to ship, Howard says. When water is added
back to the concentrate, the product is labeled "reconstituted"
or "made from concentrate" and has the same nutrition profile
as the original juice. "As long as there has been no change in
the juice other than water being removed and put back in, the label
can identify the beverage as '100 percent juice from concentrate,'"
says Jennifer Seymour, PhD, an epidemiologist in the Division of Nutrition,
Physical Activity, and Obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention in Atlanta.
Why is apple, pear, or grape juice often the first ingredient in juices
that aren't apple, pear, or grape?
Naturally sweet juices such as apple, pear, and grape help make especially
tart or acidic juices more palatable. "It's a way of adding sugar
without having to put 'sweetened with added sugar' or other sweeteners
on the label," says Adam Drewnowski, PhD, director of the Center
for Public Health and Nutrition at the University of Washington in Seattle.
For example, unadulterated cranberry juice is extremely tart and must
be sweetened. What makes it tart? Antioxidants. "They are, almost
without exception, bitter, acrid, or astringent," Drewnowski says.
"The more antioxidants you have in a product, the more bitter it
is going to be." The reason: Antioxidants are meant to protect
the plant by making it taste bad to predators.
Does fresh-squeezed juice offer any
If you're fresh-squeezing juice at home or buying in-store fresh-squeezed
juice, it may offer a slight nutritional edge, says Sue Taylor, MS,
RD, director of nutrition communications for the Juice Products Association
based in Washington, D.C. But, she adds, in the big picture any differences
would not be significant when juice is consumed as part of a well-balanced
Are fortified juices helpful?
Fruit juice is sometimes enhanced with nutrients intended to provide
health benefits because juice is convenient, has good flavor, and is
inherently associated with good health, Ritz says. Juices may be fortified
with extra vitamins (such as vitamin C), minerals (such as calcium),
cholesterol-lowering sterols, and, increasingly, omega-3 fatty acids.
Such juices may be a good idea if they're fortified with nutrients you
don't obtain enough of in your normal diet. "For people who are
lactose-intolerant, calcium-fortified orange juice can be an important
source of calcium," Seymour says.
Could juices protect against specific diseases?
"Historically, fruit and vegetable juices have been tied to a number
of specific health claims," Ritz says. "For example, consider
the long-standing association between cranberry juice and urinary tract
health. Although data is limited, daily consumption of cranberry juice
does appear to help prevent recurrent urinary tract infections in some
women." Studies also suggest that pomegranate juice may help lower
total cholesterol and reduce systolic blood pressure.
Must I give up juice if I'm taking a
prescription medication to lower my cholesterol?
"Grapefruit juice can interfere with the metabolism of a number
of prescription drugs, including certain cholesterol-lowering statins,
antidepressants, and even Viagra," Ritz says. Grapefruit contains
a natural substance that inhibits the liver's ability to metabolize
(break down so the body can utilize) certain drugs. That can result
in increased levels of the drug in the body, and with that increase,
an elevated risk of harmful side effects.
Also, cranberry juice may interfere with warfarin (Coumadin), a blood-thinning
medication. Talk to your physician or pharmacist about the potential
for interactions between any medication you're taking and the juices
© 2008, Peggy J. Noonan / Cooking