MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
This month we've been hearing about strategies to jump-start our health, and you only have to walk into a grocery store to see there's an explosion of interest in juice - fresh, refrigerated concoctions of fruits and vegetables. NPR's food and health correspondent Allison Aubrey joins us here in the studio to talk about some of the health claims.
And Allison, you have come armed with bottles of bright orange, green and red juices of all sorts.
ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: That's right. I've got this bright green juice here, which according to the label, packs three and three-quarters servings of fruit. Here's another one, a cold-pressed vegetable juice. It's made with beets, spinach, lime, parsley, ginger. So, a real cornucopia here. And the idea is hey, you can just drink up all the fruits and vegetables that you might not be eating.
BLOCK: Right, so if you don't want to chomp your way through a kale salad, you can open a bottle, drink it down.
AUBREY: That's right. And, in fact when I picked this one up this morning, I was thinking hey, this bottle of green juice, this would be the equivalent of drinking my salad. But when I look at the label here, there is no kale, there is no vegetable at all. What it actually is, is a lot of fruit and that means it's got about 60 grams of sugar, which is a lot. And almost no fiber. So, you know, this is a downside. We know that fiber helps to fill us up and is important in other ways. And we know that just drinking your calories doesn't give you the same feeling of fullness.
BLOCK: You could though, find a bottle that is actually vegetable juice, right? Would that be better?
AUBREY: That's right. There's one here. This is vegetable juice. It's certainly lower in calories. But again, it's all juice and no fiber. So, a bit of a downside.
BLOCK: Well, Allison why don't you truth-squad the claims from juice makers who say that your body will get more nutrients from the juice than if you eat the whole fruit or vegetable.
AUBREY: Well, it's really not clear. There just hasn't been a lot of research. Now, one way to think about it is that if you're drinking juice, you might be consuming a higher volume of fruits and vegetables. It's concentrated. This bottle here has almost four servings. So, you're getting more nutrients that way. And there is some evidence that when you drink juice, the nutrients from the fruit or the vegetable are more available to your body. That's because the pulp and the membranes are broken down in the juicing process. But it turns out that a lot depends on how the juice is made. For example, a study published in the Journal of Food Science found that when you put a grapefruit in a blender and pulverize all the edible parts of the fruit, you end up with a lot more of the beneficial phytonutrients in your drink compared to if you just squeeze the juice out of a juicer.
BLOCK: So in the end, Allison, where does this leave us - to juice, or not to juice?
AUBREY: Well, I think part of the question is can you afford these things? I paid $4 for this bottle here. I will point out that I also have a bag of produce. It was $4, too. This is an expensive habit. You know, at a time when most Americans only eat one fruit and one vegetable a day, juicing can be a quick and convenient way to get your fruits and vegetables, but it's also expensive.
BLOCK: OK. NPR's Allison Aubrey.
AUBREY: Thanks, Melissa.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
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