A-Z of foods: J is for Juice

Juice has had its fair share of bad press, some headlines equating it to junk food. So here are the facts. Firstly, it is not junk food. Taken in appropriate amounts with a meal, juice can give you important micronutrients.

Current guidelines from the Eatwell Guide suggest you limit fruit juice to 150ml once-a-day. It counts as one portion of "at least 5-a-day" fruit and vegetables. Juice is also high in natural sugars and acids, which can damage your teeth. 150ml is only a small glass and it's best to have it with a meal, to protect your teeth and to slow down the rise in blood glucose. It's easy to drink too much, which can make you put on weight. Babies under six months shouldn't be given fruit juice and the best drinks for children are water and milk.

However, fruit juice is a good food! It comes with nutrients like vitamin C and potassium. This could be important particularly if you're on a low income, as it's a cheap source of these nutrients. If you're craving for something sweet to drink with your meal, it's a far healthier option than sugared soft drinks because it provides added nutritional benefits.

Check out these 3 ways to enjoy juice:

1. Blitz your own. When your fruit bowl has seen better days, don't throw away the soft over-ripe fruits. Use a blender, keep the skin on if you can, and whizz up your fruits into a juice or smoothie. Have a small glass with a meal.

2. Dilute it. If you do want to start giving your young children juice, remember to dilute it with water. Even for adults, you can make your juice less sugary by adding sparkling water and fresh fruits such as segments of orange, slices of lime or frozen grapes in place of ice.

3. Freeze it. Use an ice lolly mould and freeze your favourite fruit juice. It will save you buying lollies for the children, give you a natural alternative ice lolly without added flavours or colours, and it'll be easier to keep to the recommended portion size of 150ml a day.

Azmina Govindji is Patient's award-winning resident dietitian. She comes with a background in diabetes, having worked as Chief Dietitian to Diabetes UK from 1987 to 1995. She was a member of the British Dietetic Association (BDA) Executive Council and Chair of the BDA Public Relations Committee from 2001-2004, and is still a renowned BDA spokesperson. But you may be more familiar with her work on TV and radio - she's appeared regularly on This Morning, The Wright Stuff and The One Show. Azmina is also a best-selling author and co-founder of the award-winning RDUK twitter chats.

Azmina is a mum of two and understands the pressures of family life. She runs her own nutrition consultancy at Azmina Nutrition, and offers advice to the food industry, the media, patients, nurseries, and health organisations. In her spare time she loves to entertain friends and travel. Tweet with her on @AzminaNutrition.


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