Juicy News for Fruit Lovers
Fruit juices provide health benefits, but drink them in moderation.
A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine, went an old TV
commercial. Now we're more concerned with the health benefits of juice than a
sunny start to our day. You've seen the ads and read the headlines. Cranberry
juice prevents urinary tract infections. Pomegranate juice may clear clogged
arteries. Grape juice lowers risk of blood clots. But are these claims valid?
And if so, does that mean the more juice you drink, the healthier you'll
The answer to the first question is -- in many cases -- yes. Scientific
studies have shown that certain juices can indeed offer protective health
benefits. But that doesn't mean, however, that drinking more juice will make
you healthier. As with most things in life, moderation is in order.
While most nutrition experts would prefer you eat whole fruit rather than
drink its juicy equivalent, 8 ounces a day of 100% juice is acceptable, says
Michael D. Ozner, MD, president of the American Heart Association of Miami and
author of The Miami Mediterranean Diet: Lose Weight and Lower Your Risk of
"Is juice as good as whole fruit?" he asks. "No. Fruit has more
fiber, fewer calories, and more phytonutrients than juice." For the sake of
convenience, however, Ozner admits that it's often easier to drink a glass of
juice than, say, start peeling an orange on your way out the door.
Lots of Juice Choices
And many juices are indeed worthwhile, says Ozner. Despite the fact that The
Federal Trade Commission has filed complaints against manufacturers for
allegedly exaggerating health claims, orange juice is, in fact, a healthy juice
choice, says Ozner. OJ -- especially with pulp -- is loaded with vitamin C,
potassium, and folic acid.
Ozner's other juices of choice are purple grape juice, cranberry juice, and
especially pomegranate juice, all of them loaded with antioxidants which may
offer protection against cardiovascular disease and cancer. "Fruit juice
certainly has a role to play in healthy living," agrees Ann Kulze, MD, a
family doctor specializing in nutrition and wellness and author of Dr.
Ann's 10-Step Diet: A Simple Plan for Permanent Weight Loss and Lifelong
No matter how healthy a juice, though, Kulze cautions those who are watching
their calorie intake to watch their juice consumption as well. Indeed, a study
in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests that
fructose, a sweetener found naturally in fruit juice, may induce a hormonal
response in the body that promotes weight gain.
Choose Colorful Juices
Juices made from deep purple, red, and blue fruits (such as grapes,
cranberries, pomegranates, and blueberries) are high in anthocyanins, says
Kulze, which have been shown in lab and animal studies to have antioxidant and
"Richly colored juices are your best choice," Kulze says, and
advises that when selecting a juice, you choose one where you can see sediment
at the bottom of the bottle. "That means the skin has been used in making
the juice," she explains. "The skin of any fruit is where you find the
highest concentration of beneficial properties." (Make sure you shake the
bottle vigorously before pouring so you get some of that sediment in your
serving, says Kulze.)
Don't be thrown off by labels that say juice "beverage,"
"drink," or "cocktail," says nutrition consultant Carla McGill,
RD. "Look for a label that says 100% juice," she advises, which means
that it is not a sweetened beverage. The exception to this is cranberry juice,
which is much too tart to drink unsweetened, but even in this case, there are
degrees of sweetened cranberry juice from which to choose.