Food and Cuisine

Published on April 8th, 2009 | by Stephanie Evans

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Juice It Up For Your Health

If you really want to juice up your health then you might want to consider….well…. juice! Whether it comes from fruits or vegetables, juice is loaded with vital nutrients and offers immense health benefits. Old world cultures have lived on the benefits of juice for thousands of years and without any of the sophisticated juicing equipment that exists today. Recently people all over the world have begun to realize the relevance of juice as a healthy natural source of nutrients. Fruit juice consumption in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the USA has greatly increased in recent years thanks to an increased public interest in health issues.

Why juice it up?

1.    Juicing helps you absorb maximum nutrients. This is important because many people with impaired digestion have a limited ability to absorb all the nutrients from fruits and vegetables. Juicing helps to “pre-digest” these foods so that you receive most of their nutrition, rather than having it pass through when you go to the toilet.

2.    Juicing allows you to consume an optimal amount of food. Some people may find eating too many fruits and vegetables is a cumbersome task. However this can be easily accomplished with a quick glass of juice.

3.    Juicing allows you to incorporate a wide variety of foods in your diet. Many people eat the same fruit each morning or the same vegetable salad for lunch everyday. Ideally you should rotate foods according to the season. Eating the same foods all the time can increase your chances of developing an allergy to a certain food. With juice you can easily include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables that you do not normally eat.

Photo by gadl.Kiwi & Mango Juice

Kiwi & Mango Juice

Fruit or vegetable?

Both fruit and vegetable juices have their benefits. Fruit juices taste great so they tend to be more popular. These juices are fat-free, nutrient-dense beverages that are rich in vitamins, minerals and naturally occurring phytonutrients that contribute to good health. Orange juice is rich in vitamin C, while prune juice enhances the digestive process. Cranberry juice has long been known to help prevent bladder infections and prevent bacteria from binding to the bladder. Vegetable juices are equally beneficial for the prevention of disease. Juices extracted from fresh raw vegetables furnish all the cells and tissues of the body with nutritional enzymes. Vitamin and mineral deficiency could be made up much more quickly by drinking fresh vegetable juice rather than by eating raw vegetables.

Are their negatives to juicing?

Some people have questioned whether fruit juice is equal in health benefit to fresh fruit. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that a majority of consumers’ daily fruit servings come from whole fruit, but adults and children are notorious under-consumers of fruit. While it is true eating fruit gives you more fiber than simply drinking it’s juice, there is no doubt that a serving of 100 percent fruit juice is a convenient way to help meet the recommended servings of fruit. (Source: http://www.fruitjuicefacts.org)

That being said, it is not a good idea to do away with whole fruits entirely. The high amount of fructose in fruit juice when not consumed with fiber have been suggested as a contributor to the growing diabetes epidemic in the West.  But nutritionists who look at food and beverages in terms of “nutrient density” (i.e. the amount of vitamins and nutrients the food provides for its calories) have said that 100 percent fruit juice has a similar sugar profile to fruit. (Source: http://www.fruitjuicefacts.org)

Photo by gadl.Peach & Apple Juice

Peach & Apple Juice

Watch out for commercially prepared juices!

Now don’t get too excited about going to the grocery store to fill your shopping basket with all of the juice boxes you can find. Be forewarned that as good as juice gets, commercially prepared juices can have a negative impact on your health.

The commercial processing of fruit juice takes out much more fiber than juice that is prepared at home.  Moreover, commercial juices are pasteurized, homogenized and blend with various preservatives and additives to give it shelf life. High-fructose corn syrup, an ingredient of many commercial juices, has been linked to the increased incidence of Type II diabetes.

High consumption of juice is also linked to people putting on extra weight. (http://www.fruitjuicefacts.org/pr_release15.html and http://www.mypyramid.gov/pyramid/fruits.html).

Online resources for juice

There are plenty of great online resources that provide vast information about the benefits of juice. Here are a few to get you started:

Fruit Juice Facts http://www.fruitjuicefacts.org

Healing Daily http://www.healingdaily.com/juicing-for-health.htm

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Pyramid http://www.mypyramid.gov/pyramid/fruits.html

So think about investing in the juicer.  It’s simple, easy, and will give you plenty of opportunity to be healthy and creative in the kitchen!





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