By A. Minocha MD, author: Guide to Alternative Medicine and Digestive System
The obvious and perhaps the best option between fruit and fruit juice might be to eat the whole fruit and not just the fruit juice. On the other hand, some of us don't like to eat fruit itself for a variety of reasons like taste, convenience or that we don't like the mess associated with it.
Fruit juices also offer opportunity for health fortification programs to combat other nutrient deficiencies. Fruit juice offers no nutritional advantage over fruit unless of course a fortified version of fruit juice is being used.
- Fortification of orange juice with vitamin D is as effective as an oral supplement in maintaining vitamin D status in adults.
However there has been a controversy brewing that suggests that fruit juices may not be helpful and actually cause harm.
Criticisms of fruit and vegetable juice
1. Fruit juice increases blood sugar and worsens glycemic control. This may be overblown as long as we are considering the fruit juice itself and not a juice with sugars added. In the latter case, the summation of effect might depend on how much sugar has been added. Just like anything else, moderation is the key and works for most people.
- Wilson and colleagues from Winona State University conducted a cross-sectional study examined the effects of unsweetened low calorie and normal-calorie cranberry juice formulations on the postprandial glycemic response in healthy humans. Results indicated that the consumption of a low-calorie cranberry juice is associated with a favorable glycemic response and may be beneficial for persons with impaired glucose tolerance.
3. Kids who drink juice become obese. While one study did suggest the link between excess juice consumption and obesity, another one found that kids who drank more juice have lower body mass index than those who drank less juice. Still other studies have shown no effect on body weight.
4. Fruit juice undergoes pasteurization and hence has no beneficial bacteria. Personally, I doubt that a proclaimed attribute of fruits is the intake of bacteria beneficial or otherwise. You should always clean the fruit well before eating. When in developing contries, peel off the skin before eating.
5. Drinking fruit juice may be harmful to the heart. However, preponderance of scientific evidence suggests otherwise as some of the studies cited below indicate.
- Ghanim et al. from SUNY, Buffalo, NY demonstrated that orange juice neutralizes the proinflammatory effect of a high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal and prevents endotoxin increase.
- A Japanese study documented that four week supplementation with mixed fruit and vegetable juice concentrates increases protective serum antioxidants and folate and decreases plasma homocysteine.
- Dalgard et al showed that supplementation with orange and blackcurrant juice improves inflammatory markers in patients with peripheral arterial disease.
- Tart cherry juice improves antioxidant defenses in older adults as shown by an increased capacity to counteract an oxidative challenge and reduced oxidative damage to nucleic acids.
- A study of pear, apple, orange, grape, peach, plum, kiwi, melon, and watermelon juices prepared from pure fruits ground evaluated effect on antioxidant staus in healthy subjects. Within 30 minutes after consumption, orange, melon, grape, peach, plum, apple, and kiwi juices inhibited reactive oxygen species generation. This radical scavenging effect lasted mostly for up to 90 minutes while grape juice displayed antioxidant activity until 2 hours after supplementation. The authors concluded that fruit juices may reduce damage from oxidative stress via antioxidant activity of fruits in scavenging the reactive oxygen species generated in human plasma.
- Gouado and colleagues from University of Douala, Douala, Cameroon, examined the systemic levels of carotenoids from mangoes and papaya consumed as juice, fresh or dried slices in healthy volunteers. Breakfast served to fasting subjects during breakfast, included bread, yogurt and one of the three forms of fruit. Blood samples were collected at 0, 4 and 8 hours. All three forms of consumption contributed to the rise of serum retinol levels. A comparison between the three forms revealed that papaya and mangoes consumed in form of juice or fresh fruit are the best forms because they had higher bioavailability values.
- A double blind randomized controlled trial of 59 healthy subjects examined the effect of a commercially available encapsulated fruit and vegetable juice powder concentrate (FVJC) on functional indices of health over a 77 day period. The FVJC group tended to have fewer total symptoms than the placebo group (P < 0.076) and this was accompanied by an increase in plasma nutrients and antioxidant capacity, reduction in DNA strand breaks, and an increase in circulating gammadelta-T cells.
- Udani et al conducted an 8 week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to examine the effect of multiple dosages of a proprietary Mangosteen Juice blend (3, 6 or 9 oz twice a day) on indicators of inflammation and antioxidant levels in obese patients with elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) levels. Authors found that proprietary mangosteen juice blend reduced CRP levels (increased change from baseline) compared to placebo for those taking 18 oz per day.
- Kiefer et al conducted a double-blind randomized cross-over design study involving 59 healthy men and women (40-60 years of age)to examine the effect of supplementation with a natural phytonutrient preparation from fruits and vegetables found that supplementation with mixed fruit and vegetable juice concentrates effectively increased plasma levels of important antioxidant nutrients and folate.
- A randomized double-blind, crossover trial (n=32 men) of supplementation with the encapsulated mixed extract (Juice Plus) compared to placebo found tht the supplement increased the concentrations of plasma beta-carotene, retinol, alpha-tocopherol, ascorbic acid and folic acid while reducing plasma homocysteine. Glucose, insulin and lipid concentrations were unaffected. Authors concluded that the supplementation produced responses consistent with a reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease.
6. Administration of fruit juice to kids predisposes them to chronic allergic disorders. This notion came from contact dermatitis seen in some kids. The concept of increased risk of chronic allergic disorders has not been confirmed by scientific data.
Dr. Minocha' caution: Fruit juice just like any other food is a source of calories and should be accounted for in any nutritional counselling. Moderation is the key. Consult your physician.
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