A basic idea of nutritional approaches to health is that whole foods are generally “better” than foods derived or processed from them. It’s the total nutritional package that counts, as Dr. Royal Lee pointed out many decades ago and as research has confirmed – at least in some cases. For instance, a study published last fall in Advances in Nutrition found that, with respect to lycopene, tomatoes packed a bigger nutritional punch than supplements.
So we’ve written before about how whole fruit is preferable to juice – even 100% juice, although there are dental reasons for this, as well. After all, fruit juice is concentrated sugar. You’d have to eat several pieces of fruit to get the sugar equivalent of 8 ounces of juice. Juice also tends to be highly acidic, weakening tooth enamel and giving oral pathogens even more opportunity to wreak havoc, ultimately leading to decay.
Nutritionally, though, new research in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that the picture is a little murkier than originally thought.
Its authors did a nutritional comparison of oranges and orange juice. On the one hand, they found that juice was indeed a little lower in cartenoids and vitamin C than whole fruit. However, what was in the juice turned out to be more bioavailable: More of the nutrients could be absorbed and used by the body.
And contrary to conventional wisdom, although juicing oranges dramatically cut flavonoid levels, the remaining ones were much more bioaccessible than those in orange segments.
Though from a dental standpoint, we do recommend folks go easy on juice, clearly, it does offer some benefits. If and when you choose it, just wait a half hour or so before brushing afterward, to give acids time to be neutralized so you don’t wind up brushing them into your teeth.
Image by Judy van der Velden, via Flickr