Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Not so juicy news about juice

Orange juice.Image via Wikipedia

In collaboration with Health Promotion Board, Singapore

Eveline Gan

Some time back, my spouse, who hates drinking water, decided that he would stop downing soda to quench his thirst. It was too unhealthy, he felt.

Resolved to lead a healthier lifestyle, he switched to drinking fruit juices. Within days, he had gulped down several cartons and pronounced himself "healthier" as a result.
Was he?

Not really, said nutrition experts Today spoke to. While fruit juices contain more nutrients than soda, that's not a good reason to overdose on them.

"Many people think fruit juices are healthy and drink them freely. In fact, they have high sugar content. Having too much juice isn't good for blood sugar levels," said holistic nutritionist Yondi Lee of Ascension Healing.
Plus, it is "not a wholesome way to consume fruit", she added. "While a glass of juice may be packed with nutrients, it may lack those found in the fruit's pulp - such as flavonoids - which are lost during the extraction process."

Flavonoids support Vitamin C absorption and have anti-inflammatory properties.
The Health Promotion Board (HPB) recommends two servings each of fruit and vegetables daily.

For each group, only one serving should come from juice, according to Dr Grace Soon, acting deputy director of HPB's Adult Health Division's nutrition department.

"This is to ensure that fibre is consumed. The fibre that is found in fruit and vegetables is removed during the making of juice," she said.

Ms Lee advised diluting juice before consumption "so it will be less sweet". She added that drinking vegetable juice may also be more beneficial because it is lower in sugar than regular fruit juice.

For instance, a serving of fresh mango juice - which has 139 calories and 24g of sugar - contains three times the number of calories and almost five times as much sugar as tomato juice.

However, Dr Soon said it is best to incorporate a variety of juices from different fruit and vegetables, as well as whole fruit and vegetables into the diet.

"Although fruit and vegetables contain similar nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, folate and potassium, and other phytochemicals (plant substances such as beta-carotene, lycopene and flavonoids), they may contain different amounts of these nutrients. For example, vegetable juices are higher in Vitamin A and some fruit juices are higher in Vitamin C. Therefore, no particular juice is 'better' than another," she explained.

What about commercial juices?

"Some pre-packed carton juices come with added sugar, resulting in higher sugar and calorie content," Dr Soon said.
Ms Lee also cautioned against drinking those that include juice concentrate.

"Depending on the manufacturer, juice concentrate is made by removing water from juice, hence concentrating it. Sometimes heat is used in the process and this destroys certain nutrients. Sugar and other thickeners may also be added," she said.

If you buy commercially-packed juices, go for those that are 100 per cent juice, with no added sugar, the experts advised. Ms Lee added: "It's even better if the juice contains pulp."

Dr Soon said that those fortified with nutrients such as calcium and Vitamin D may also supplement one's dietary intake of these vitamins and minerals.

From TODAY, Health – Tuesday, 15-Sep-2009