Author: Sherry L. Granader, Nutritionist
A tall glass of juice may look inviting and delicious with its vibrant color and sweet taste, but are you really doing something good for your body? While they may offer up vitamins and minerals, some juices deliver more sugar than a candy bar. Here are some of the best and worst juices to consider:
Best Choice: Vegetable Juice
Getting enough vegetable servings in one day can be difficult for some, so a convenient way to add those powerful, plant-based nutrients is by drinking your vegetables. Tomato juice, for example, is full of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men. The juice from beets has been shown to lower blood pressure and if you are into juicing your own vegetables at home, the pulpy beverage is packed full of fiber that can make you less hungry. Vegetable juices may be lower in sugar and calories but they can be high in sodium, so choose a low-sodium version or juice your own vegetables.
Other Good Choices: Pomegranate, Blueberry, Acai, Cherry and Red Grape Juice
Pomegranate juice may be a bit high in calories and sugar but it delivers a huge dose of antioxidants that help improve brain function and reduce the risk of cancer in the body. Blueberry juice is also good for the brain by helping to improve memory, especially in adults as they get older. South America is known for the acai berry that delivers a high concentration of antioxidants, more than cranberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. The best juice for reducing inflammation throughout the body is cherry juice while red grape juice is good for the heart.
What About Drinking Orange Juice?
It may be full of vitamin C and good for the immune system, but many of the bottled orange juices are full of chemicals designed to make them smell the same each time you open a jar or bottle. They tout being fortified with calcium and vitamin C for strong bones, however they have fewer antioxidants than the some of the other berry juices listed above. If you are going to enjoy orange juice in the morning for breakfast, squeeze the oranges fresh for maximum benefit.
Folk Remedy in Prune Juice?
Prune juice is extremely high in fiber, making it one of the best folk remedies for constipation. It contains sorbitol, a natural laxative and it is also high in potassium, iron and packed with antioxidants.
Children and Juice
Remember juice glasses? They hold no more than 4-6 ounces and that is exactly what the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends for portioning out fruit juice to children under the age of six, and no more than 8 ounces for children seven and older. However, stay away from the ‘juice cocktails’ that come in a box that contain very little ‘real’ juice. Most of them are full of sugar, water and high fructose corn syrup, ingredients found in soft drinks – full of calories and low in nutrients. If your children crave more juice, water it down with sparkling water or plain water.
No Added Sweeteners?
These may sound like you made a good choice but they are still very high in calories and sugar. One cup of pure apple juice has the same amount of sugar as a regular size candy bar. Stick with one serving of juice per day for children or better yet, have them eat a whole piece of fruit instead of the juice. It will fill them up, add fiber to their diet and give them plenty of nutrients and antioxidants.