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Join the juicing craze, but keep your diet balanced

| Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, 8:56 p.m.

“Juicing” is on the fast-track from fad to full-on health craze. Thanks to an explosion of juice bars and celebrity endorsements, satisfying that thirst for greens, super fruits or carrot juice is en vogue. But healthy as these juicy concoctions seem, there's a tall order of hype muddling science with slick marketing here.

Juicing can be a great way to get nutrients from fruits and vegetables, which evidence suggests might help prevent chronic diseases. A study published in a 2009 journal, The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, found that consumption of a commercially available fruit and vegetable puree-based drink significantly increased dietary carotenoids and vitamin C. Increasingly, studies are beginning to show that fruit and vegetable juices might play important roles in health, such as delaying onset of Alzheimer's disease, enhancing sleep quality and exercise recovery, and lowering blood pressure.

While juices provide many of the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals of whole fruit, the healthy fiber and fruit skins — with their high concentration of nutrients, phytochemicals and antioxidants — is discarded. Without that fiber, the body absorbs the sugar in fruit juices more quickly, which can promote a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. In addition, most juices are concentrated sources of the natural sugars from fruits, as it usually takes two or more servings of fruit to produce a one-half cup serving of fruit juice.

Diets and commercial plans that encourage strict juicing as meal replacement may skimp on essential nutrients. The result is a high-carb, low-fiber, low-protein “meal” that provides a rapid rise in blood sugar, which can leave you feeling hungry later.

Try to limit your fruit juice servings to one four-ounce serving per day; get your other servings the old-fashioned way — from whole fruit, like oranges, bananas or apples.

Environmental Nutrition is a newsletter written by nutrition experts at www.environmentalnutrition.com.

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