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Monday, July 13, 2015

Commercial fruit juice and smoothies can be a risk to health

We may think that we are giving health a good turn by opting for fruit juice or a smoothie instead of soda pop, but health advocates warn that this in not a sound choice. Linked with obesity and type 2 diabetes, these drinks are often a disease promoting agent in disguise. Masquerading behind a facade of wholesomeness, fruit juice and smoothies contain high levels of harmful fructose and synthetic additives. In response, nutrition experts warn that if we want to avoid health issues in the future, these beverages should be given a wide berth.

The risks of ‘healthy’ beverages
A significant player in the soaring rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes, sugar of all kinds (especially fructose) is a health disaster. Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina, states that “smoothies and fruit juice are the new danger,” in an interview with The Guardian.
In 2004 Barry Popkin and George Bray pointed the finger at high fructose corn syrup in soft drinks, causing a huge headache for the big manufacturers, including Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The two scientists had identified sugar-sweetened soft drinks, full of calories and consumed between meals, as a major cause of soaring obesity in developed countries. But they argue that as people change their drinking habits to avoid carbonated soft drinks, the potential damage from naturally occurring fructose in fruit juices and smoothies is being overlooked.

“Smoothies and fruit juice are the new danger,” said Popkin. He added: “It’s kind of the next step in the evolution of the battle. And it’s a really big part of it because in every country they’ve been replacing soft drinks with fruit juice and smoothies as the new healthy beverage. So you will find that Coke and Pepsi have bought dozens [of fruit juice companies] around the globe.”
Coca-Cola owns Minute Maid juices in the USA and Innocent smoothies in Europe while PepsiCo has Naked juices in the USA and Tropicana in Europe.

Drink vegetable juice, Popkin advices, 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."
All sugars are equal in their bad effects, says Popkin – even those described on cereal snack bars sold in health food shops as containing “completely natural” sweeteners. “The most important issue about added sugar is that everybody thinks it’s cane sugar or maybe beet sugar or HFC syrup or all the other syrups but globally the cheapest thing on the market almost is fruit juice concentrate coming out of China. It has created an overwhelming supply of apple juice concentrate. It is being used everywhere and it also gets around the sugar quotas that lots of countries have.”
In a survey of sweeteners in US food products between 2005 and 2009 for a paper published in 2012, Popkin and colleagues found that fruit juice concentrate was the fifth most common sugar overall and the second most common, after corn syrup, in soft drinks and in babies’ formula milk.

“All the long term studies on fruit juice in anything show the same kind of effect whether it’s a smoothie or natural [juice] and whether it’s a diabetes or weight gain effect,” Popkin added.
Further evidence supporting the theory came last week from a study published by the British Medical Association.
Researchers from the UK, USA and Singapore found that, in large-scale studies involving nurses, people who ate whole fruit, especially blueberries, grapes and apples, were less likely to get type 2 diabetes, which is obesity-related, but those who drank fruit juice were at increased risk. People who swapped their fruit juice for whole fruits three times a week cut their risk by 7%.

Fructose is particularly troublesome, as it bypasses the body’s satiating signals, which encourages overconsumption and subsequent weight gain along with insulin resistance. It also increases uric acid levels, which promotes metabolic syndromes like hypertriglyceridemia. Fruit juices and smoothies contain concentrated forms of fructose, giving rise to a vicious cycle of blood sugar imbalances.

As observed by Popkin, when all is said and done, we would be better off consuming vegetable juice or whole fruit.

Vegetable juicing tips

1. Add in some carrots to sweeten up your greens and mellow out the taste. People on raw food diets or juicing aficionados won't only put unpeeled carrots into the juicer; they'd also add in some greens and other vegetables like cucumbers and celery.  

2. Go fresh, go organic. If you can, choose fresh, organic vegetables and fruits for your vegetable juicing recipes. Fresh means more nutritional value and tastier juices, and organic means healthier drinks as these weren't sprayed with chemical pesticides. Fresh and organic vegetables are more consistent with your health goals.

3. It’s best to leave the skins on in juicing vegetable recipes, that’s where much of the nutritional value is.  Your juicer will shred and break down the skins and extract all that nutritional goodness for you to enjoy.

4. Get a good juicer to get the most out of vegetable juicing recipes. You want to get as much juice from your fruits and vegetables as you can, while preserving the vitality they contain. Some juicers may produce better juice, but can be more difficult to clean, so think about what will work best for you. It’s better to juice every day with a slightly inferior juicer than once a week with a great juicer. The most important thing is that any juicer you purchase should have the capability to juice leafy greens. A juicer that can juice greens along with fruits and hard vegetables might cost a little more, but juicing greens is the secret to good health.

5. Vary your ingredients. Be creative with your vegetable juicing recipes not only for your palate’s sake, but for the nutritional value that variety will bring you.  Let your imagination run wild and over time work towards drinking plenty of green juices as they are packed full of nutrition, have low sugar content, and can help alkalize your body.

6. Get started now!  Even if you can only afford the cheapest juicer buy it now and get started.

Sources: http://www.theguardian.com/, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/