By Cynthia Sass, R.D., C.S.S.D.
From summer peaches to winter oranges, seasonal fruit should be a daily treat. But two-thirds of adults miss the recommended two-to-four daily servings. That’s too bad, because recent research suggests that eating plenty of fresh fruit may actually help you maintain a healthy weight and slash your risk of stroke, heart disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes.
If you have trouble eating enough fruit, raise your glass—literally. Fruit juice has benefits too. As long as you drink the right kind of juice in the right portion, you don’t need to obsess about its sugar content. Here, four simple rules for making healthy fruit juice part of your meal plan.
Buy 100 Percent Fruit Juice for the Most Benefits
The label should say “100 percent juice,” no exceptions. This guarantees that the only additives are water and possibly vitamins (such as ascorbic acid, the technical term for vitamin C). Terms like organic, natural or real will not ensure that you’re getting 100 percent fruit juice.
Drink a 4-ounce Serving of Fruit Juice
When determining portion size, it helps to remember that juice is a concentrated form of fruit and should be consumed in smaller quantities. One orange the size of a baseball, for instance, packs about 60 calories. You’ll get that from just four ounces of juice. I recommend that you use four-ounce juice glasses to keep from overdoing it, and always follow it with a glass of water.
Try New Fruit Juice Varieties
Eating a wide variety of fruits has greater health benefits than sticking to the same tried-and-true favorites. A recent study at Colorado State University found that participants who ate items from 18 botanical families reaped the disease-fighting and anti-aging benefits of antioxidants much more than those who ate items from only five. Try a different variety of fruit juice or juice blends each week to get the widest range of antioxidant benefits—and new flavors—possible.
Use Fruit Juice in Recipes
Juice is one of my favorite condiments. I whisk it into homemade salad dressings, and my staple stir-fry sauce is a blend of fresh-squeezed blood orange juice with rice vinegar, grated ginger and crushed red pepper. See below for more tasty options.
Fruit Juice Picks from the Grocery StoreR.W. Knudsen Family Organic Black Currant Nectar
Why I love it This gorgeous berry fights heart disease and cancer.Make it a smoothie Whip 4 oz black currant nectar with 4 oz skim milk, 4 oz nonfat yogurt, 2 Tbsp cashew butter, 1/4 cup dry rolled oats and a pinch of ground cloves.Northland Pure Pomegranate
Why I love it Pomegranate juice tops the list of antioxidant-rich juices.
Make it a salad dressing Whisk 2 Tbsp pomegranate juice into 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and safflower oil, 1/4 tsp minced garlic and cracked black pepper to taste.
Apple & Eve 100% Natural Style Apple Juice
Why I love it 100 percent apple juice helps prevent LDL cholesterol from clogging arteries.
Make gourmet ice cubes Fill an ice cube tray with apple juice, fresh grated ginger and fresh mint leaves and freeze for a beautiful and aromatic addition to water or iced tea.
Welch’s 100% Grape Juice
Why I love it It helps keep your immune system in peak condition.
Make it a superdrink Stir 1/4 cup grape juice into fresh-brewed green tea using one cinnamon stick along with 1/4 tsp fresh grated citrus zest and 3 fresh basil leaves.