Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Winter Tonic and My Thoughts on Juice, Sugar and Fats. . .

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!



  1. I agree about not drinking commercial juice and limiting even homemade juice. I love mixing grapefruit and orange juice. It is so refreshing.

  2. Thanks for the good reminder this morning. I've been using juice with Rowan to hide some grapefruit seed extract, trace minerals, etc in a morning immunity drink - knowing that the sugar from the juice is not awesome for him, but needing something to mask the flavors. This is a good reminder that I can be juicing more often and giving him more nutrients too.

  3. Sarah, I use green smoothies as a carrier for various supplements when my kids need them. I use whole seasonal fruit (fresh or frozen), yogurt, a bit of water or milk to thin, and the juice of 1/2 lemon (for tartness), plus a hefty handful of spinach. My kids are very sensitive to sugar, including fruit juice, so this is a good compromise, with plenty of fab and fiber to slow the blood impact. :)

    Mmm, I do love orange-grapefruit juice, though!

    Last week my therapeutic nutrition teacher pointed out a classmate who was drinking Coke Zero (sweetened with aspartame) and then another who was drinking one of those Odwalla juices to make the point that the Odwalla juice was so much better despite the caloric content. I wanted to disagree and point out that what would REALLY be healthy, instead of comparing two evils, is for both of them to be carrying WATER in a reusable bottle. Odwalla is owned by Coke, it's sold in single-serving plastic bottles, they mislead on their nutrition label, and they usually have added sugars in their juice, and Coke Zero might have no calories but it's full of chemicals. The teacher was well-intentioned -- he wanted to dissuade these image-conscious college girls from consuming chemical sodas. But in the process he was saying that 450kcal. of basically straight sugar was preferable, and to say the least I can't agree. :)

  4. Thanks for this important advice and for the simple juice recipe. I've added organic oranges and grapefruit to my grocery list!

  5. So do the kids accept the offer for water or do you have to do to Ingles to get them the wished for sugar liquid? I am very much looking forward to make a drink like that, I mean the freshly pressed orange/grapefruit.
    Thanks for the great post Rachel keep it up.

  6. Thanks for all the great comments.
    I love that you are giving Rowen grapefruit seed extract Sarah, and I like the green beverage you fix your little ones with hidden supplements Chandelle!
    Eduard, they always accept water. Thirst wins, and they are usually just fine with this old fashioned beverage.

  7. I'm new to your blog, but I'm really loving it.

    Something I also tell my little one about bottled juice vs. fruit, is that pasteurized juice in bottles doesn't have the good bacteria in it anymore, and our fruit does!

  8. Great post, nice to have the problems with fruit juice laid out so well and with a nourishing solution.

    btw, grapefruit seed extract comes with its own set of problems. It's an industrial product, and at least some of its effect comes from the processing chemicals not the seed itself. See:

  9. yes , all juices are made by fruits and other type of vegetables with Sugar Processing Chemicals . All juices to be made with some chemicals and better for healthy combination for all things.