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Fruit juice vs. whole fruit: The winner?

Fruit juice, though tasty and refreshing, is not as healthy as whole fruit. When a whole fruit is pressed or squeezed to make juice, some…

Fruit juice, though tasty and refreshing, is not as healthy as whole fruit. When a whole fruit is pressed or squeezed to make juice, some of the nutrients, most notably fibre and the water-soluble vitamins, are lost in the process. While 100% fruit juice is not completely devoid of nutrients, it undoubtedly has lower nutrients than the whole fruit that it came from. Orange juice makes a good example of the health difference when you focus on the issue of its pulp. The white pulpy part of the orange is the primary source of its flavonoids.

Flavonoids are colourful pigments that support numerous metabolic processes in the body. The juicy orange-coloured sections of the orange contain most of its Vitamin C. In the body, flavonoids and Vitamin C often work together, and support health through their interaction. When the pulpy white part of the orange is removed in the processing of orange juice, the flavonoids in the orange are lost in the process. This loss of flavonoids is one of the many reasons for eating the orange in its whole food form (even if you only end up eating a little bit of the white pulpy part).

Additionally, many fruit juices that are sold in supermarkets contain only a small percentage of real fruit juice and contain added sweeteners (sucrose or high fructose corn syrup). As a result, it is easy to consume a large amount of calories without getting any actual nutrition when you consume these beverages.

Mrs Sarah N. Abagai, HOD of Dietetics, National Hospital, Abuja says juice is supposed to serve therapeutic purposes. In other words, “When someone is sick and has loss of appetite and you are trying to induce appetite, then juice becomes your handy option.

For a healthy person, we recommend the consumption of whole fruits.  There are a lot of advantages in this because you will be able to get the fibre that you need for good health from the fruits as well as the juice for your nourishment.”

Again, she mentioned that with whole fruits, you are not likely to overeat, because for you to be able to get a glass of orange juice, you may need to squeeze up to four oranges.  But under normal circumstances, you will just take one or two oranges.

Abagai says, “It is important to note this, because when you take fruits, you must bear in mind that it has simple sugar and that can easily predispose some people who are at risk to become diabetic very easily.” Hence fruits are better consumed whole by healthy people, she says, but when you are caring for the sick, juice comes forth handy. “Let juice be what you take once in a while, not habitual, Abagai advised.

The reason for this emphasis on whole fruits versus fruit juices is simple: regardless of the fruit and regardless of the method used for juicing, the most diverse and intact collection of nutrients comes to you through the whole fruit!

What’s missing in fruit juice?

Whole fruit provides you with a whole lot more nutrition than fruit juice. Focusing upon two components of fruit – the skin and the pulp – will help to clarify why there is such a difference between the two.

The edible skins of many of the world’s healthiest fruits – including apples, grapes, pears, plums, prunes, raisins – are all sites of important biological activity in the life of the fruit. The skin is one of the places where the fruit interacts with sunlight and forms a variety of coloured pigments that absorb different wavelengths of light.

These pigments, including carotenoids and flavonoids, are well-researched as nutrients that protect our health and nourishment. The skins of whole fruits like grapes have actually been studied for their ability to help lower the risk of cancer and help to provide protection from ultraviolet light.

Unfortunately, when fruits are juiced, we don’t always get to enjoy the fruit’s skin. That is because many juicing processes remove the skin and do not allow for its full benefits to get into the juice.

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