We all could probably eat more fruits and vegetables. But if forced to choose between whole fruit or a glass of juice, which one seems more healthful?
The general advice is to opt for the fruit, since juices are stripped of the fiber – which most us don’t get enough of — in whole fruit. And let’s face it: Most juice contains a lot of sugar, which most of us consume too much of.
So our interest was piqued when we spotted a study suggesting that, when it comes to oranges, juice might actually unlock more carotenoids and flavonoids – both beneficial phytonutrients — than an equivalent amount of fruit.
Fruit juice has also been criticized as a sugary, fiberless drink no better for you than cola. The study shows that orange juice does make certain nutrients more accessible to your body, but not enough to recommend juice over whole fruit. Keep in mind that a home juicer is not going to pasteurize your OJ. It is well known (or not) that pasteurizing sweetens juices quite dramatically. And since this was done is a test tube (in vitro), actual blood sugar spikes to a cohort population was not even tested.
So is orange juice healthy? That depends on whether it helps you meet your goals. If you’re trying to reduce the sugar in your diet (as many of us should), the sugar concerns may outweigh the benefits you get from the extra micronutrients. For those who must maintain a very low fiber (low residue) diet, juicing is a great alternative to otherwise problematic fruits and veggies.
What about blending the whole fruit into smoothies instead of just juicing? In the study, the puree’s nutrients were less bioavailable than the juice.