Monday, September 15, 2008

Making Sense of the Super Juice Craze

Paul Zane Pilzer, author of the monster-selling book, The Wellness Revolution, predicts that the next TRILLION dollar industry will be in the field of wellness.

Indeed, supplement sales alone enjoy double digit growth every year, and so it stands to reason that manufacturers of novel new products and services will begin popping up all over the place.

Enter then, the new craze of Super Juices.

I’ll leave the manufacturers nameless, but you know them. Sellers of acai berry juice and all manner of exotic fruit juices supposedly providing nutrient power unmatched by any substance in the Milky Way are now commonplace. But are these juices, or even the now mundane commercial orange and grape juices we have enjoyed for so many generations really all that good for you?

Consider this: By law all juice (and milk) manufacturers must pasteurize their products before being brought to market in order to kill any pathogens. Pasteurization involves boiling in temperatures up over 220 degrees for 20 minutes. By the time that boiling is complete, all of the potential pathogens are dead, but so are most of the nutrients. What’s left over is what little nutrients, if any, that survived, and a whole lot of fruit sugar. Might as well drink Hi-C.

This point was dramatically illustrated in a study entitled, Antioxidant activity of pasteurized and sterilized commercial red orange juices. Here’s the abstract:

Blood orange juice is a typical Italian product whose red color is primarily associated with anthocyanin pigments. Two orange-based products are present on the market: pasteurized pure juice with 40 days of shelf life, and sterilized beverage containing minimum 12% of concentrated fruit juice. The aim of the present paper is to verify the relationships between the antioxidant properties and the anthocyanins content in a sampling of pasteurized and sterilized commercial red orange juices. The anthocyanins composition was determined by HPLC-MS/MS, while the antioxidant activity was evaluated by the Briggs-Rauscher reaction, selected in order to acquire information at acid pH values, by three radical scavenging assays (DMPD, 2-2-azinobis-(3-ethylenbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) diammonium salt (ABTS), DPPH), and by FRAP assay to monitor the ferric reducing power. Results showed that antioxidant activity, particularly when measured by ABTS method, is positively related to the content of anthocyanins and that the reduction of anthocyanins content, typical of commercial long-shelf life juices, leads to a remarkable loss of antioxidant power.1

In my opinion, juicing is great as long as you juice fresh foods yourself and drink them immediately after. If you do your own juicing but save your left-over juice for future consumption, oxidation by itself will kill off a good portion of the nutrients. So drinking your own juiced foods immediately after juicing can provide huge amounts of body-ready nutrients. But be careful. Do this only in moderation. When juice is liberated from the pulp and fiber of the food it came from, it no longer has the benefit of that fiber to slow the absorption of the sugar into the bloodstream. So drinking a lot of even the most nutrient-dense juices can spike blood sugar and contribute to metabolic syndrome.

I’m a juicer myself, but only occasionally. I don’t juice every day, and usually only when I feel like I’m coming down with something or when I’m fasting. For a daily supplement to my diet, I rely on therapeutic levels of micronutrient blends like Multigenics and Ceralin Forte, and powerful phytonutrient blends like the ones found in Celapro. These are ways to provide one’s self with huge levels of disease-fighting antioxidants without the sugar, and because they don’t have to be pasteurized, they maintain their therapeutic value and antioxidant strength throughout the manufacturing process as verified by third-party laboratory assays.

Juices, on the other hand, are typically not analyzed for their nutrient content after pasteurization and processing. The claims being made regarding the antioxidant value in the marketing are usually references to the berry or fruit itself, and the consumer is supposed to make the mental leap that if the fruit is good, the sterilized juice should be even better. Unfortunately, what looks good in full-color glossy ads do not always represent good science and are often just a shade off from the whole truth.
Conclusion? In my opinion, commercial juices, especially the grossly over-priced superfood juices, are gimmicks that cannot be validated with scientific scrutiny.
Alberto Fiore 1, Luca La Fauci 2, Rinaldo Cervellati 3, Maria Clelia Guerra 4, Ester Speroni 4, Stefano Costa 4, Giacomo Galvano 5, Antonino De Lorenzo 6, Vanessa Bacchelli 3, Vincenzo Fogliano 1, Fabio Galvano *
1Department of Food Science, University Federico II, Naples, Italy2Department of Agro-forestry and Environmental Science, Mediterranean University of Reggio Calabria, Gallina di Reggio Calabria, Italy. Fax: +39-95-3512013Department of Chemistry G. Ciamician, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy4Department of Pharmacology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy5Department of Agronomical, Agrochemical and Animal Production Science, University of Catania, Catania, Italy6Department of Neurosciences, University of Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy