Saturday, January 14, 2006

Juices Are Not Health Foods

Contrary to the ads that you may see on television, juices are not more healthful than whole fruits or vegetables. How can an extract from food be more healthful than that food? For some people, they are much less healthful. For example, a glass of orange juice contains about one tenth as much fiber as an orange and twice the calories. Diabetics shouldn't drink fruit juices because they drive blood sugar levels too high, nor should people who are trying to lose weight drink fruit juices because a rise in sugar calls out extra insulin that makes you hungry.

Don't be fooled by juices that claim that they supply 100 percent of your daily needs for vitamin C and A. Most drinks that can make that claim have artificial vitamins added to the drink and are no better for you than juices that have only 10 percent of your daily requirements. Adding calcium to fruit juices is reasonable because there are no known harmful effects and some people do not get enough calcium from other foods that they eat.

There is no known advantage or disadvantage to drinking fruit juice that has first had water removed to form a concentrate and then had the water added back in to form the juice. This process does not destroy nutrients, nor does it add any.

It really doesn't make much difference whether you drink juice that is 100 percent fruit juice or made from 50 percent sugar water and 50 percent juice. Some fruits have higher water and sugar content; others must have water or sugar or both added to make them palatable. All juices contain around 8 to 10 percent sugar because that's the concentration of sugar that tastes best and that most people prefer. "All fruit" juices often use added sugars extracted from grapes, apples or other fruits rather than from sugar cane. There is no difference between any type of sugar added to a diluted fruit juice and the sugar that was originally in the fruit. Both are lower in fiber than the fruit, so they both cheat you of fiber, and since they both contain the same amount of sugar, they affect diabetics and obese people in the same bad way by driving their blood sugars higher.

Pasteurized means that the fruit juice was heated to kill germs. You are less likely to be infected with E coli from a pasteurized drink and pasteurization does not reduce the amount of nutrients in a drink. Ultraviolet light, freezing, dehydrating and bubbling ozone through a drink get rid of germs and do not reduce nutrients.

The bottom line is to eat whole fruits and vegetables, and drink juices if you can afford the extra calories and sugar. You gain nothing extra from juicing, and diabetics and overweight people should restrict their intake of juices because they are not much more than sugared water

Dr. Gabe Mirkin has been a radio talk show host for 25 years and practicing physician for more than 40 years; he is board certified in four specialties, including sports medicine. Read or listen to hundreds of his fitness and health reports at http://www.DrMirkin.com

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