I am not a fan of bottled fruit juice. I do not like how it is made, marketed, and guzzled by health seeking individuals and primarily, by children. When kids visit my house, they almost always ask for juice when they are thirsty. I sometimes have some cider lurking in the back of the fridge, but almost always my answer is "I don't have juice, would you like some water?" Because what I hear when they ask for juice is really a request for liquid sugar. Sugar, and its effects on the body's insulin response has become one of my main interests in nutrition.
Fats have been unrightfully criticised for far too many decades as the culprit to cardiovascular disease, obesity and high cholesterol levels. Yes, some fats are to blame. Modern fats, mainly from seed oils. But as we look closer, mainstream nutritional advice is finally unable to ignore the crucial importance of traditional healthy fats for maintaining a healthy system. Children especially need appropriate ample fat and cholesterol rich foods for their growing hormonal and nervous systems. Without it, many many health issues follow suit, including the inability to absorb enough vitamin D which has been linked to 17 different kinds of cancers, osteoporosis, depression, anxiety, inflammation, birth defects and heart disease (just to name a few).
Sadly, due to a continued increase of childhood and adult diabetes as well as obesity, the USDA still suggests a far too simplistic guideline of high carb, low fat diets for children and adults. Don't even get me started on how convenient this advices happens to be for government subsidies. This advice is not working. Where is the warning on sugar (especially the highly refined forms), the substance at the root of almost every ailment? The industry needs sugar to make empty products taste good. Without it, they would be unable to mask the lack of substance in the "foods" they are selling.
Back to juice. Juicing fruits and vegetables is a modern convenience; another way for us to eat something that was once a whole food as a portable, chuggable drink. What ends up happening when we forgo the whole fruit or vegetable for the ease of juice drinking, is that we miss out on all the fiber once present. When the juice of a fruit or vegetable is eaten in combination with its fiber content, this slows the insulin response (plus we are likely to consume much less). In other words, eating a orange instead of drinking a glass of OJ gives our bodies a little more time to deal with the fructose. More time to process glucose in any form is a gift in this modern world, since we all cause our bodies to deal with too much sugar too often throughout each and every day.
In addition, "most processed juice sales are controlled by Coca-Cola (owners of Minute-Maid) or PepsiCo (owners of Tropicana). What the consumer is not hearing is the bad news about processed orange juice, which often contains heat-resistant fungi and pressure-resistant E coli." (International Journal of Food Science Technology, 10/95)
Conventional fruits and vegetables used for juices are also sprayed heavily with a broad spectrum of pesticides (see sources below). The rinds of oranges in particular are pressed along with the fruit's flesh as part of the commercial juicing process. Unfortunately, the pesticide residues stored in the rind end up as part of the juice as well, making conventional OJ not only sugary but toxic.
Here's the dilemma: citrus in the wintertime can be a lovely tonic. An organic grapefruit or orange is such a breath of fresh air in the middle of February is it not? Given all the conflicts mentioned above, here is a solution:
* Purchase organic citrus fruits for juicing as a occasional treat at home, making sure to include the excellent fiber rich pulp.
It's that easy. When juice is handled as a special treat rather than guzzled from a jug, it can be a bright winter tonic. I love a grapefruit juiced with an orange, served cold from a little glass. It will wake you right up. I guess we can drink our juice and eat it too!
Winter Tonic: Pulpy Organic Grapefruit and Orange Juice (serves 2-4)
*2 ripe organic grapefruits
*2 ripe organic oranges
Chill fruits. Cut each fruit in half. Over a medium bowl, place a fork in the center of one fruit half, and begin twisting and rocking it back and forth to encourage all of its juice and much of the pulp away from the rind. Continue until each fruit half seems well juiced. Lift away any seeds from the top of the bowl of juice with a spoon.
Divide juice into glasses and serve immediately. Enjoy!