Monday, March 9, 2009

Those pesky fruit and vegetable requirements again...

While the mainstream diets seem to be ever-changing - from all-meat, to no-carbs, to single food groups (grapefruit diet? cabbage soup diet?) - the "official" recommendations seem to sensible. The USDA recommends "Two cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables per day" in their Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

And yet look at a measuring cup. Does anyone get that much really? 2.5 whole cups of vegetables seems a daunting task. Therefore, entrepreneurs have increasingly developed "get fruits and veggies quick" schemes, particularly in the form of V8 fruit and vegetable juices, and Naked fruit smoothies.

V8 is no longer just a thick tomatoey juice that one must drink down with one's nose pinched. V8 produces 100% vegetable juice, V-Fusion, a mix of fruit and vegetable juices, and V8 Splash, a low-calorie fruit juice. One serving of V8 provides 1.5 cups of vegetables (therefore, 3 out of 5 servings of vegetables each day), one serving of V-Fusion provides half a cup of vegetables and half a cup of fruit (a full serving of fruit and a full serving of vegetables), and Splash just seems to be a diet version of juice.

Naked juice similarly appeals to this trend of liquefied fruit and veggie servings, and provides, in each of its 24 flavors, "a pound of fruit in every [15.2oz] bottle." Take, for example, the "Red Machine" flavor - it boasts having 13 raspberries, 11 strawberries, 3 cranberries, 1.5 apples, a quarter of a pomegranate, a third of an orange, half of a banana, and 7 grapes. On a conservative estimate, that seems to be about 4 cups of fruit. Double what the USDA recommends! Can it really be so? Jove and my stars be praised, it's a miracle juice! In 15.2oz of liquid one gets twice the recommended daily servings of fruit!

Well yes, it certainly wouldn't hurt to consume this drink, as long as it's clear that it's not a low calorie food, nor is it a substitute for water. The fruit juices do provide various vitamins, but it is the pulp and fibrous content of the fruit itself that provides sustenance and digestive benefits, not the juice. The juice is fine for a snack or as a supplement to whole pieces of fruit, but munching on an apple daily and popping some grapes are still essential for good health.

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