We live in a fancy juice world. You know what I’m talking about — a $4 Odwalla, a $5 Kombucha, a Spicy Tumeric juice that tastes so bad it must be good for you. Good luck to you if you’re on to the cold-pressed stuff — $11 for a kale-apple-spirulina blend, or $200 for a 3 day juice cleanse. In U.S. cities keeping it gangnam style no longer means a Starbucks or an espresso. It’s all about the juice.
Unfortunately, the stuff is probably killing you. A recent study published in the British Medical Journal found that eating certain types of fruits provided more health benefits than others. Blueberries topped the list. However, the study also found that those same fruits in juice form not only failed to make participants healthier, but actually raised their risk of diabetes.
As study co-author Qi Sun says, the problem with juices is that:
“During juicing processes, some phytochemicals and dietary fiber are lost,” said Sun. And since fluids are more rapidly absorbed than solids, drinking juice brings on a “more rapid and more dramatic glucose and insulin response” than eating whole fruits.
Soda companies have rushed into the juice market, touting fancy juices as a healthy alternative to sugary sodas. Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at UNC and one of the world’s foremost experts in sugary drinks and obesity, disagrees:
Launching Tropicana smoothies in 2008, Pepsi’s sales pitch was that the drink would help the nation to reach its five a day fruit and vegetable target. “Smoothies are one of the easiest ways to boost daily fruit intake as each 250ml portion contains the equivalent of 2 fruit portions,” [the company] said at the time.
However, Popkin says the five a day advice needs to change. Drink vegetable juice, he says, but not fruit juice. “Think of eating one orange or two and getting filled,” he said. “Now think of drinking a smoothie with six oranges and two hours later it does not affect how much you eat. The entire literature shows that we feel full from drinking beverages like smoothies but it does not affect our overall food intake, whereas eating an orange does. So pulped-up smoothies do nothing good for us but do give us the same amount of sugar as four to six oranges or a large coke. It is deceiving.”
Looks like it’s time to put down the fancy juice and pick up a carton of blueberries. Your body, and your wallet, will thank you.
image – Shutterstock.com