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Juice it up

health-and-fitness Updated: Jun 13, 2010 00:57 IST
Sanchita Sharma
Sanchita Sharma
Hindustan Times
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All fruits are not created equal, some are more nutritious than others. That’s why nutritionists insist you eat a variety of fresh fruits.

The problem is that you’re never sure how fresh the fruit you are getting is. Seasonal fruits are likely to be the most fresh, with non-seasonal and imported varieties usually losing some of their nutritive value in the farm-to-fork journey.

Going seasonal, unfortunately, limits options. For example, if you are not too fond of the uber-sweet summer pick of watermelon, muskmelon, lychee and mango, you are pretty much starved for choice. At times like these, going for packaged juices is a good option if you are looking for a concentrated source of nutrition, which includes vitamins, minerals, natural sugars, and healing phytochemicals.

Since the term juice is used loosely to include 100 per cent juice with no added sugar to juice drinks (made from artificial flavour) and fruit nectars (with added sugar), you have to ensure you make a choice that gives you the nutritional benefits without excessive calories.

“Vitamin A survives the packaging process, but most Vitamin C is lost from the fruit. Since many fruit juices are fortified with vitamins and minerals, it’s always better to go for a juice instead of a aerated drink, which has nothing but junk calories,” said Rekha Sharma, chief dietitian, Medanta.

“Since juices have a high amount of calories — between 90 and 240 calories per serving of one 200 ml glass — they are a healthy option for children and people on the run who do not have breakfast or limit it to toast and tea,” she said.

Almost any fruit or vegetable can be juiced. “Freshly squeezed or extracted juice made with a home juicer has the highest nutrition and the best flavour. Vegetable juices are much lower in calories than fruit juices, with tomato, carrot and mixed vegetables juices being a healthy option,” said nutritionist Ishi Khosla, director, WholeFoods.

Packaged juices available include orange, mango, apple, lychee, guava, mixed fruit and cranberry, but you can put any fruit — such as pear, peach, apricot, prune, cherry and melons — in a juicer to make fresh juice.

Packaged juices are freshly extracted juices that are vacuum-packed for preservation. One-hundred per cent, canned or packaged juices may be made from a single fruit or from a blend of fruits to create a certain flavour and level of sweetness. Those made from a single fruit may be sweetened with grape juice.

Frozen juice concentrates are made from pasteurised juice from which the water is extracted before freezing it into a solid, concentrated portion. Reconstituted juices, made from juice concentrates that have been pasteurised, are the ones labelled “from concentrates.”

“Fruit drinks contain only a small amount of real juice, with sugar and artificial flavours and colour giving it taste. These shouldn’t be counted as a fruit serving,” said Sharma.

“Most packaged and tinned juices are pasteurised to kill microbes and bacteria, but this also destroys many vitamins and minerals. All in all, wholefruit and homemade juice should be the first option, with juices being used only as a replace colas,” said Khosla.

Sip with care: Go easy on fruit juices if you have…

Diabetes and obesity: Though fruit juices pack a nutritional punch, even unsweetened ones are high in calories and fruit sugar fructose. Choose fresh fruit or vegetable juices over fruit juices.
congestive heart failure: Potassium-sparing diuretics prescribed for heart failure cause potassium retention. All fruit and vegetable juices contain potassium.

Diarrhoea: Fruit sugars such as
fructose and sorbitol, a naturally occurring indigestible form of sugar, are absorbed slowly. These are present in high concentrations in juices and cause diarrhoea,

Gastro-esophageal reflux: Acidic juices can increase heartburn pain. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): People with IBS have trouble absorbing fructose.

Yeast infection: Women who have a yeast infection (or are predisposed to it) should limit their intake of sugar, fruit juices and refined carbohydrates.