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How to juice

By Matt O'Neill, MSc(Nut&Diet), APD

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32g of Sugar & 5 Health Stars?

It doesn't make sense... how can a single serve of fruit juice contain so much sugar & still get the top Health Star rating? This week, I explain how to juice correctly.

I'm not a fan of the 5 Health Star Rating & it shows how this overly simplified system breaks down.

What were they thinking?

Fruit is good for you... so it gets stars, but when you concentrate the calories from several pieces of fruit, the sugar adds up too much (to over 30g) in this 400mL, 720kJ/172Cal single-serve bottle!

And the label says "No added sugar"!!!

How to juice right

Try these rules for consuming juice, which I hope make good sense, especially if you want to get leaner and control blood sugars:

1. Eat the whole fruit

Whole fruit contains the additional goodness of fibre for digestion & the bulk to help you feel fuller.

1 Fruit serving = 300kJ /70Cal

E.g. medium apple, 125g punnet blueberries, 22 grapes.

2. Limit fruit juice to 200mL per day. Less is better!

One small 200mL glass of fruit juice = about 300kJ / 70Cal.

Larger servings of fruit juice, either squeezed yourself or from the juice bar risk blowing out your calories and sugar intake (even though it's 'natural' sugar). If you are on a higher energy eating plan & have no blood sugar issues, more juice may be OK. For example, if you are an athlete.

What about veggie juice?

Yes, I believe you can use vegetable juice to help hit your daily vegetable target of 5 servings. But only in small amounts.

125mL vegetable juice = 1 Vegetable serving

Only replace a maximum 1 or 2 whole vegetable serves a day with vegetable juice. This ensures you eat most of your vegetables, get the fibre & the benefit of a bulky food on appetite management.

Calories and sugars in veggie juice?

A 125mL portion of pure vegetable juice (not a veg-fruit mix) has around 100kJ / 25Cal, so is the same as a serve of semi-starchy vegetables (like tomato, beetroot or pumpkin).

This will give you around 3 grams of sugar. 1.5 grams of starch (complex carbohydrate) for a total of 4.5 grams of total carbohydrate.

What if I drink 500mL veggie juice?

Veggie juice will give you nutrients (minus fibre) for not as many calories as fruit juice.

But 500mL (4 x 125mL serves) of veggie juice adds up to 400kJ / 95 Cal, 12 grams of sugar (about the same as 1 piece of fruit), 6 grams of starch & 18 grams of total carbohydrate.

If you need to control your blood sugars, consuming a much lower amount of vegetable juice will be better.

Juicing your own way

Juicing at home puts you in control of what you add.

Serves going into your juice

75 grams of raw vegetables = 1 Vegetable serve
1 Medium fruit = 1 Fruit serve

Juicer or blender?

A juicer will extract the juice & leave the pulp, which has fibre & some nutrients. If you want to the wholefood benefits & don't mind pulpiness, use a blender or Nutribullet style machine.

Supercharge your juice

Add these nutrient-rich foods to your juice, which in high enough doses may have benefits.

Ginger may relieve cold symptoms.

Chia seeds, avocado and LSA (linseeds, sunflower and almond meal) add healthy oils.

Beetroot, spinach and celery - high in nitrates which will help lower blood pressure and increase blood flow to muscles.

Carrots (vitamin A), kiwi (vitamin C), pomegranates and all berries (antioxidants).

Spirulina powder is around 60% protein and a source of vitamin E and B vitamins, except B12 as is often claimed. Despite the hype over wheatgrass, it's similar to broccoli and spinach juice for nutrients.

Try this juice recipe

Leafy green vegetable juice.

6 Spinach leaves
3 Kale leaves
1/2 cup beet leaves
1/2 cup celery
1 Apple (for natural sweetness)
Blend all ingredients together.

1 Fruit + 1.5 Vegetable serves



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