A reader recently asked me if I recommend juicing as a way to increase your intake of vitamins and antioxidants.
Here’s what I think:
1 – Juicing isn’t a good idea because you lose out on one of the principle benefits of fruit: the fiber. Fiber aids in digestion, of course, but it also helps keep your blood sugar from spiking. Drinking pure juice has an effect that is really no different from chowing a candy bar or slamming a soda.
Fiber helps regulate the absorption of fructose into your system. If you’ve heard about the glycemic index, you probably already know about the important role fiber plays in evenly releasing glucose into your bloodstream. (If not, check out the official Glycemic Index.)
2 – When you take out the fiber, you’re left with sugar. My readers know I’m no fan of the sweet stuff, especially from sources like high fructose corn syrup, refined flours and starches, and processed foods. I think for most people anything over 80 grams of carbohydrates a day – roughly three servings – is a terrible idea, yet Americans routinely eat three or four or even five times that. (By the way, I’m talking about carbohydrates from flours and starches, not nuts, fruits and vegetables! Eat those recklessly!)
There’s no reason any child or adult – excluding athletes – needs to ever drink a “sports beverage” or an “energy drink”. These things are basically a pancreatic panic attack waiting to happen. Juice gets a bill of health because we all know fruit is healthy, but juice is not fruit. The truth is that juice is virtually no different from these other sugary drinks.
3 – Juice is dirty. If you caught Wise Bread’s discussion of food manufacturing secrets the other day, you’ll remember the particularly disgusting news that orange juice is typically made from oranges that are coated in all sorts of pesticides and chemicals. And it all goes right into the juice.
When you “juice” at home, this is still a problem. Wash an orange, peel and eat it – you’ve avoided the chemicals because, perhaps even more important than washing, you removed the skin. Wash that orange and throw it into the juicer, however, and you’ve just ingested whatever chemicals were hanging out in the peel that didn’t get washed off. Juicing infomercials typically brag about how wonderfully potent juice is because it offers several servings of fruit in one glass. Think about that now with pesticides. (Also, a glass of juice is not several servings of fruit, anymore than a mug of chicken broth is several servings of chicken breast. You can get around pesticides by going organic, but you’ve still got that pesky sugar problem.)
nutrition, fruit, juice, food, health, juicing