Fruit Juice Doesn't Have To Be Unhealthy: 4 Healthy Juices You Can Feel Good About

juice
Most fruit juices rival candy bars in their sugar content, but they shouldn't all be blamed for a few bad apples. William Ismael, CC BY-ND 2.0

Your average eight-ounce glass of orange juice packs 24 grams of sugar, or six grams more than a Snickers bar. Apple juice, not to be outdone, delivers 26 grams of sugar. And sorry to say it, grape juice aficionados: your precious juice comes with 38 grams of sugar per glass.

Don’t let their au naturel aura fool you. Fruit juices, while rich in their own particular vitamins, can be comparable to the corn-syrupy, caramel-colored colas they often stand in for. Our eyes see “fruit,” and, either because of willful ignorance or sheer lack of knowledge, our brains ignore the “juice” part. But fruit juice isn’t fruit, and many companies have a lot to gain from adding sugar and draining nutrients to lengthen shelf life. Here are four fruit juices you can trust will only help your body.

1. Tart Cherry Juice

Tart cherry juice is rich in anthocyanins — phytochemicals that have been shown to improve cardiovascular health and exhibit anti-cancer properties, Rania Batayneh, MPH, nutritionist and author of The One One One Diet, told Medical Daily. Cherry juice offers anti-inflammatory benefits, making it ideal for athletes looking to recover from their workout. In fact, a 2010 study found tart cherry juice consumption a week before a big running event helped reduce post-run muscle pain.

2. Pickle Juice

The briny aftermath of eating an entire jar of pickles is still useful, science shows. Pickle juice is rich in the electrolytes sodium and chloride, which help to replenish worn muscles faster. Brigham Young University researchers found in 2010 that football players who drank pickle juice felt relief from their cramps 45 percent faster than when they drank nothing and 37 percent faster than when they drank water.

However, Batayneh remains skeptical that pickle juice is doing the heavy lifting. Some researchers “hypothesize that it's not the electrolytes in pickle juice that help relieve cramps but rather another mechanism,” she said.

3. Watermelon Juice

“Whether you're sipping on watermelon juice or just eating watermelon (which is 91 percent water by weight, anyway!) you're sure to benefit from the nutrients found in the juicy fruit,” Batayneh said.

Watermelon juice has been shown time and again in lab studies to improve muscle repair, but it also ranks among a select group of fruits to rival tomatoes in its delivery of lycopene. When consumed in sufficient quantities, lycopene has been shown to reduce the risk of skin cancer. (As if you needed another reason to eat watermelon in the summer.)

4. Bitter Melon Juice

Bitter melon juice has some interesting science behind it that suggests generous consumption could slow breast cancer progression and help prevent pancreatic cancer. A pair of studies, one published in 2010 and another in 2013, found bitter melon blocks the growth of cancerous cells. While scientists have yet to run tests on humans, cell culture studies and mouse models have at least proven the concept.

A Final Thought

Juices aren’t inherently bad for you. Few things are. A glass of orange juice, for example, delivers your entire day’s worth of vitamin C in one serving. But so do a lot of other foods, many of which offer just as much nutrition without any of the bad stuff. Sauté up some yellow bell peppers for dinner and you’ll exceed your vitamin C quota six-fold, with some vitamin A thrown in along with key minerals that maintain eye health.

The vegetables may not satisfy your sweet tooth necessarily, or pair well with your morning toast, but they are healthier. And in that trade-off is a second important opportunity, namely, the chance to evaluate what reasons you give yourself for eating one food over another in the first place.

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