Saturday, October 21, 2006

Drink Your Juice—It's Nutritious

Fruit juices have been slammed for being high in carbs and low in fiber. But get ready for a surprise: They do have redeeming qualities for your health.
Fruit juice has become the Britney Spears of the grocery store, typically scoffed at by those old enough to remember a time before ultra-low-rise jeans. Between being called liquid sugar by the anti-carb crowd and being blamed for the rising obesity rate among kids, it would seem that juices are simply not worth swallowing. (In fact, their sales dropped 1.4 percent between 2002 and 2003, the first decline in more than 6 years, according to a recent report by And mainstream nutritionists promote the whole fruit over juice for its fiber and pulp. But the truth is, some fruit juices do deserve a place at your table because of their nutrients and powerful disease-fighting properties.
In fact, there are times when juice is uniquely beneficial. After a workout, for example, it helps replace fluids and blood sugar and provides nutrients. Juice also comes in handy when eating is simply not convenient—when you’re driving, say, or traveling, but still want something with nutritional value.
Drink your vitaminsIn the beverage hierarchy, real fruit juice trumps soda and fruit-flavored drinks on the nutrition front. And a glass of 100 percent juice counts as a serving of fruit. But not all juices are equally healthy. Apple juice, for example, is a relative lightweight as far as nutrients go; a cup of the average brand offers 103 milligrams of vitamin C (thanks to added ascorbic acid) and 295 milligrams of potassium, but little else.
On the other hand, purple grape juice is fast emerging as a health-protective powerhouse, mostly because it’s rich in polyphenols, a class of antioxidants that protects against certain forms of cancer and heart disease. In fact, a small study from Korea (partially funded by Welch Foods Inc.) found that drinking Concord grape juice daily for 8 weeks slightly reduced blood pressure in men with hypertension. Meanwhile, tomato juice, a concentrated source of lycopene (an antioxidant linked with reduced risks of prostate, breast, colorectal, and lung cancers), may bolster the immune system, reduce bad cholesterol, and make blood platelets less sticky.
To increase juices’ nutritional value—and, of course, their sales—some manufacturers are fortifying them with vitamins (such as antioxidants A, C, and E); minerals (like calcium); or certain phytochemicals (like plant sterols). Musselman’s, for instance, now offers apple juice infused with vitamin C and calcium. Wyman’s and R.W. Knudsen have introduced blueberry juices that boast natural antioxidants, while Minute Maid Premium Heart Wise contains plant sterols that help lower harmful LDL cholesterol. Other companies are blending vegetables into their fruit juices, making it easier for you to get your daily dose of veggies.
Those extras don’t permit a bottomless juice glass, though. The calories can add up quickly. An 8-ounce glass of OJ, for example, has 112 calories—roughly the same amount as two medium oranges—which is why experts recommend only 4 to 6 ounces a day.
Choose your juiceTo squeeze the maximum benefits from each glass, buy only juices labeled “100% juice,” “pasteurized,” and “no added sweeteners” or “no sugar added.” And as with fruits and vegetables, it’s smart to aim for variety. “Rotate your choice of juices so that you get different color groups and different disease-fighting compounds,” advises David Heber, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Most Americans eat a diet that’s brown or beige. Juices can help bring more color into your diet.”

by Stacey Colino

Microwave Ovens Kill Nutrients in Food

THE FACTS They are a staple in kitchens everywhere, but for about as long as microwave ovens have been around, people have suspected that the radiation they emit can destroy nutrients in food and vegetables.
According to most studies, however, the reality is quite the opposite. Every cooking method can destroy vitamins and other nutrients in food. The factors that determine the extent are how long the food is cooked, how much liquid is used and the cooking temperature.
Since microwave ovens often use less heat than conventional methods and involve shorter cooking times, they generally have the least destructive effects. The most heat-sensitive nutrients are water-soluble vitamins, like folic acid and vitamins B and C, which are common in vegetables.
In studies at Cornell University, scientists looked at the effects of cooking on water-soluble vitamins in vegetables and found that spinach retained nearly all its folate when cooked in a microwave, but lost about 77 percent when cooked on a stove. They also found that bacon cooked by microwave has significantly lower levels of cancer-causing nitrosamines than conventionally cooked bacon.
When it comes to vegetables, adding water can greatly accelerate the loss of nutrients. One study published in The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture in 2003 found that broccoli cooked by microwave — and immersed in water — loses about 74 percent to 97 percent of its antioxidants. When steamed or cooked without water, the broccoli retained most of its nutrients.
THE BOTTOM LINE Microwave ovens generally do not destroy nutrients in food.

Sunday, June 25, 2006