Monday, March 1, 2010

Whole Fruit or Fruit Juice?

When I was young, my dad would pack our family into his old Lincoln Town Car and we’d travel cross-country to visit my grandparents in Palm Springs where upon arrival I would reach up into the citrus trees and grab a delicious piece of fruit and dig in.

The giant fruits that came off the trees in my grandmother’s backyard mesmerized me. Every morning I would pick out the best orange, grapefruit or lemon and bring it into the house for my breakfast treat. It was a great experience that connected my food to a source. I would immediately devour the sweet and tart fruits and the juices would stream down my fingers. I couldn’t stop myself from licking them till’ they were clean.

As our trip came to an end, my family and I would make our way back to Oklahoma. We dreaded the cold weather that barely reached over freezing. We knew we’d be back to our regular routine of school, homework and sports. Our regular routine also meant drinking our vitamin C instead of picking it off a beautiful tree. We’d have to wait another year before we made it back to California.

As years have passed, I cherish those early memories and know why I teach my clients to

contemplate their reasons for drinking juice in the morning. Are they drinking it for added health benefits because it was what they were taught, or because they crave the taste?

Today I’m asked the question - Can and should I drink fruit juices?

The answer - Whole fruits are almost always better than juices.

When you drink juices you miss out on all the fiber that’s found within the fruit. The fiber (pith, skin, flesh, etc.) slows down the digestion process of the fruit juices and prevents the juice from entering your system too quickly. By eating everything you can, keep your energy level at a consistent high as opposed to creating a spike and drop effect from the concentrated juices.

Juices also tend to be very filling. Have you ever considered why your children drink their orange juice and leave a full plate of breakfast? When fruit juices, like orange juice, are added to a child’s breakfast routine, children tend to drink the orange juice first and by the time they finish they’re full leaving no room for the important breakfast foods. Unfortunately, the juice is metabolized quickly and can leave your child hungry at school and less likely to focus on the day’s material.

It may take some time getting use to the addition of whole fruits to your diet, but it’s definitely worth it. The great news about eating your fruit instead of drinking it are- you’re more likely to eat an appropriate portion size, fruits will help keep you regular and you’ll get the same health benefits plus additional ones.

Whenever I would visit my grandmother she would always have a mere half cup of freshly squeezed orange juice. This juice was always accompanied by a small cup of coffee, one egg, one piece of toast and one piece of bacon. I was always shocked at how little she gave herself. What I didn’t realize was she had a perfect portion of juice. She made it part of a balanced breakfast and the portion I drank every morning was three times as much as I needed.

I wasn’t aware of portion size or other ways to drink the juice that would give me flavor without the full sensation. I now tell my clients that if they can’t live without a glass of fruit juice try three parts water and one part juice or measuring out a perfect portion. It will satisfy taste with less of the negative side effects.

I also tell my clients to make sure they buy juice that has fruit as the first ingredient on the label and to make sure there are no added sweeteners. You may pay more but your body will thank you for it.

We don’t all have the luxury of fruit trees in our backyard, but that shouldn’t stop us from enjoying the benefits of fresh fruits. I never thought about the importance of eating my fruits instead of drinking them, but now I think it’s something to think twice about.

Happy Cooking!

Chef Mary

Don't forget to subscribe to this blog.

No comments: