Our weekly news column bringing the most current, non-biased health
information to the consumer.
April 24, 2012
A Publication of QVHD
By: V. Deborah Culligan, RN, MPH,
Deputy Director QVHD
Remember the days when you had juice with breakfast just because it tasted good? Remember when there were only a few kinds of juices to choose from: orange, grapefruit, tomato or grape? Remember when you chose juice by what you liked rather than by what it could do for you? Today, juice products claim all kinds of health benefits. But are they really true? Is juice always the best food choice for the nutrition claim being promised?
The producers of juices and juice products have gone crazy with nutritional claims. But you will never get the same nutrition benefits from a glass of juice as you would from a piece of fruit, especially in terms of fiber content. It has also been demonstrated that eating a fruit makes you feel more full and satisfied than drinking a glass of juice. (This is important for those trying to lose or watch their weight.)
In the January/February 2008 edition of The Nutrition Action Healthletter, several interesting points were made about juice and good nutrition. A few key points of the article included:
- For the most part, juices, even with extra pulp, are not good sources of fiber. The only juice with significant fiber content is prune juice.
- If you are concerned about getting enough vitamins, take a once-a-day vitamin supplement, rather than relying on a juice. You will be sure of the amount of the vitamins you are getting and will not get the calories that come with the juice. Juices with added calcium and Vitamin D can help people reach their daily targets.
- Most of the nutrition claims made on juices are “structural” claims rather than “functional” claims. Structural claims do not require the level of scientific proof that a functional claims does. For example, a juice can claim it “helps protect healthy joints” but it cannot say it helps arthritis.
- Don’t be misled by an American Heart Association checkmark on a juice product. This symbol generally means that a product is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Well, most juices (and fruits) are!
- Antioxidant claims on juice products should not affect your decision to purchase a product. The scientific evidence on antioxidants is far from conclusive.
- Exotic juices like acai, gogi, pomegranate or blueberry are expensive and have little scientific evidence right now to back their claims. But if you like it (and can afford it), drink it.
In the most recent edition of their newsletter, January/February, 2012, Nutrition Action Health Letter, the authors address again the marketing of juice with an appropriate title to the article “Juice Gone Wild.” In addition to stressing the points made in their last article, they add:
- Energy juice drinks my supply caffeine but it is the same caffeine that you get from coffee or tea.
- Sparkling juices have no fewer calories than ordinary juice or cola.
- Most juices are high in calories and sugar.
- Brain-boosting claims made by juice companies are misleading.
- Terms on labels like “support”, “enhance”, or “maintain” need no hard evidence of proof, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA.)
- Watch serving sizes. The Department of Agriculture defines a serving size of juice as 4 ounces. Many drinks come in 8 ounce or greater packaging. Read the nutrition label to see how many servings are really in a bottle.
One last thing to consider is the amount of sugar in juices. This is especially important if you are diabetic. Juice can be part of a balanced nutritional eating plan. Just don’t rely on them for miracle cures and be aware that they do contain calories. For a free reprint of the articles referenced in this article, District residents (Bethany, Hamden, North Haven and Woodbridge) can call QVHD, 248-4528 or request on line, www.qvhd.org
|An Ounce of Prevention is a
publication of the Quinnipiack Valley Health District, located at
1151 Hartford Turnpike, North Haven, CT 06473. Telephone:
248-4528. An Ounce of Prevention is
written by V. Deborah Culligan. The articles are published in the following local newspapers, The Advisor &
The content is provided as health education and
information to help you make health decisions. It is not intended to
be legal or medical advice, or substitute for recommendations made
by your health care provider. Address all comments to the district