With the awareness about good nutrition and health on a rise, people are ready to try any techniques to be healthy, looking out for newer trends and popular diets to keep themselves fit. One such trend that is gaining popularity, is consuming various combinations of fruit and vegetable juices.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in micro nutrients, nevertheless do we really benefit from these juices? How much can we consume? When is the right time to drink them? Which combination is good for which condition? There are plenty of questions that need to be answered before we can conclude that juices are really good for health.
What do juices contain?
The juice extracted from fruits and vegetables has the following:
- Vitamin C, Vitamin A (B-carotene), some amount of minerals.
- High amount of fructose or sucrose (if additional sugar is added).
- Commercial juices has preservatives, artificial colours and flavors.
Juice Vs Whole fruit/vegetable
- Slow release of sugars: Whole fruit trumps fruit juice because the fibrous content takes longer to chew, promotes a feeling of fullness, slows down digestion and reduces blood sugar spikes commonly seen with fruit juice.
- Lower incidences of metabolic diseases - Research shows that taking whole fruits and vegetable salads can help to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity.
- Load on Liver - Since liver is the organ that metabolizes the sugars, drinking fruit juices causes rapid inflow of sugars in liver causing an overload. The excess sugars may get converted to fat leading to fatty liver and insulin resistance.
- Toxicity - many vegetables contain toxic components, e.g. members of cucurbitaceae family like bottle gourd and cucumber contain toxin compounds called cucurbitacins which when consumed can lead to severe vomiting and gastrointestinal bleeding. Since juices reach the liver very rapidly due to negligible fibre, the toxic effects can be fatal.
- Nutrients - Whole produce has good amount of antioxidants, fibre, phytonutrients and micronutrients which gives a wholesome nutrition as compared to the juices where many of the nutrients are lost either due to oxidation or by separating the fibre.
- Hygiene - fresh produce are more hygienic if eaten in their natural form. Juicing may include mixing of contaminated water and unhygienic handling practices.
When to include juices in the diet?
Fruits/vegetable juices can be consumed in the following circumstances:
- Dehydration - especially during summer
- Recovering from illness - if you were down with flu or any infections, fruit juices or thin vegetable soups may be recommended for quick energy and to replenish the lost nutrients from the body.
- Digestive problems - loose motions or diarrhoea cases usually recommends drinking of pomegranate or apple juice to manage the condition.
- Dental issues - especially in case of elderly, if there is no history of diabetes, juices are recommended if there is difficulty in chewing whole fruits or vegetables.
- For any particular conditions - Also juices of medicinal value and for a particular health condition can be made fresh and taken eg) Tulsi + ginger juice for cough & cold. The quantity needed is merely 5 - 10 ml. Again this would be for a short term, any long term usage should be avoided.
Depending upon therapeutic use or as nutritional supplements one can use the juices but it has to be in accordance with health needs.
Bottom line is drink juices once in a while but not as a part of the daily diet. Eating whole produce has a lot more to offer than drinking juices. If you really want to include juices then the best way is to blend the whole fruit or vegetables and have it has a whole rather than strain and remove its fibre. The choice is yours!