March 11, 2008

You Ask, I Answer: "Green" Juices

I have been drinking beverages from Bolthouse Farms for about 6 months now. They appear to be very nutritious.

I have only been drinking the Carrot Juice and the Green Goodness so far.

I think the Green Goodness packs the most nutrients.

I was wondering if you could offer your opinion on this product.

-- Angelo Iacovella

Location Unknown

These beverages encompass a gray area for me.

On the one hand, a 15.2 fluid ounce bottle of Green Goodness provides 280 calories, a quarter of a day's potassium (a mineral the average adult in the United States does not consume enough of), 240 percent of your daily vitamin A needs, two days' worth of vitamin C, and 60 percent of the daily B12 requirement.

Not bad for a juice!

However, looking solely at a nutrition label to determine if a food or beverage is "nutritious" can lead to erroneous conclusions.

You need to also peruse the ingredient list and see where all these numbers are coming from.

In the case of these beverages, the first few ingredients are fruit purees and concentrates.

In essence, nutrient-free sugar water.

Fruit purees and concentrates do not provide the fiber and phytochemicals present in an actual piece of fruit.

It is not surpring, then, that this fairly large bottle can only cough up four grams of fiber.

Four grams in and of itself isn't bad (a single pear provides four grams, while a cup of raspberries clocks in at five grams), but it isn't all that magnificent when it comes in a 280 calorie package boasting the inclusion of so many fruits (and even vegetables!).

You can get that same amount from just one actual whole fruit for about 200 less calories.

Since this juice is made up of concentrates, it also contains 54 grams of sugar.

Don't be fooled by the fact that it's derived from fruits.

Since you don't have fiber to help stabilize your blood sugar levels, your body is absorbing it like table sugar -- at the tune of four and a half tablespoons of it!

I am not saying you might as well just pop open a can of Coke and call it a day.

However, I will admit to a love-hate relationship with these products.

They provide a fair amount of nutrition, but also give consumers false confidence.

I can imagine people mistankely counting this drink as their "fruit for the day".

They'd be better off having an apple in the morning and an orange at night. Less calories, more fiber, and phytochemicals to boot.

Keep in mind that liquid calories do not satiate as well as those from food, thereby making it easier to consume excess calories.

I also don't think it's necessary to seek out 200 percent of the Vitamin C recommended intake in a single beverage, particularly since it is just manually added (in other words, you're getting a free crushed vitamin C pill in your drink).

While definitely not a soda, this beverage is also not a "power food" or special concoction.

If you can afford the extra calories, go ahead and consider it a treat -- but NOT a substitute for the fruits and vegetables you normally eat.

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