Food fads come and go, but the benefits of drinking juice have been recognised for centuries. We take a look at why juice holds such enduring popularity and what part it can play in our health woes.

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If you’re looking for a short answer to the question we posed in our headline then here it is: not really, but it can help if you choose wisely. Like most of the questions we pose about health, it isn’t easily answered in a one or two-word response.

Why do we juice?

Juicing is undoubtedly a great way to capture essential nutrients and this has been recognised for centuries. In the days of wind-powered ocean journeys that could last for months, illnesses such as scurvy caused by vitamin deficiencies were a common hazard. However, late in the 18th century the Royal Navy discovered that lemon juice would prevent sailors falling ill with this disease – indeed, many of them ended up healthier than when they began the journey.

A century later juicing’s popularity really began to take hold. In the 1920s German scientist Max Gerson developed a therapy that included juices and since then the popularity of juices has continued to grow. Every decade there seems to be a new way to extract juices from fruit and vegetables and a new diet to accompany it.

Choosing the right juice

Today, despite the popularity of juices, consumers have become increasingly aware of the high sugar content of fruit juices. Even though in most cases, the sugar comes naturally from the fruit, many consumers are moving away from fruit juice.

Juices that contain more vegetables and less fruit are the answer. While making your own juices at home is a great idea, for those who are time-poor there are other options. Juice bars, while often quick and convenient, can be expensive, but supermarket options can be easy, inexpensive and healthy.

Enjoying the health benefits

When buying long-life juices from the supermarket there are a few things you need to keep in mind:

1. The first is, look for juices with more vegetables and less fruit.

2. Ensure there are no added sugars in your chosen juice. When you check the ingredients panel you should not find sugar listed there.

3. Ensure that what you are buying is juice and not a “juice drink” or “fruit drink”. Both of these things will often be sold in the same aisle as the long-life juices but are liable to contain added sugars and little in the way of actual fruit and vegetables.

4. Always remember that while juice is a good source of vitamins it contains very little in the way of fibre, so it doesn’t and shouldn’t replace fruit and vegetables.

This article was created in partnership with V8.

October 19, 20162:17pm

nutrition | body+soul

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