You are shopping at your local healthy organic market and you grab a green juice. You assume it is all good for you since it is labeled green juice or Superfood. But is it really good for you? Many green juices and smoothies contain high sugar content that exceeds recommended amounts for healthy diets. Dr. Robert Lustig, M.D. Professor of Pediatrics Division of Endocrinology University of California, San Francisco, in his lecture The Bitter Truth, states that healthy adults can metabolize 5 teaspoons of sugar per day. That is a total of 20 grams per day from all sugars combined. If you have issues with blood sugar regulation this could may detrimental to your health. Let’s take a look at a few popular brands and compare their sugar content.
All vegetables and fruit provide calories from carbohydrates (sugars, starches and fiber, rather than fats and proteins), with the exception of some fruit like avocado and olives. So there is going to be some sugar calories in any juice. The question is how much? Vegetables have fewer sugars than fruit but they still have some. The lower the sugars the better! Juices containing 2-6 gram of sugar per 8 oz serving is acceptable.
Among popular juices, Naked Juice and Odwalla have the highest sugar content. Naked Juice kale blazer has 34 grams of sugar per bottle while Odwalla has contains 47 grams of sugar. The smoothies have even more sugar- the green machine contains 53 grams. These are sugary drinks disguised as healthy super foods claims of “no sugar added.” By adding organic fruit juice puree, they add a sweet taste which consumers like, and a large amount of unwanted sugar to the diet.
Suja Mighty Greens has 19 grams of sugar per bottle. And although lower in sugar than than Odwalla or Naked Juice, it is still rather high. Of commonly available supermarket brands, Evolution, Forager and Colombia George are better choices. From my perspective, Columbia George is the best option. But not all Columbia George drinks are low in sugar either. You MUST read the labels carefully. Do not rely on the claims on the front of the bottle. The best Colombia George variety is Just Greens, and it has 2 grams of sugar per serving and 4 per bottle. How do they do that? Well, it’s greens only with no added fruit. The downside – it is flash pasteurized. Evolution and Forager contain 12 grams of sugar per bottle (see below).
I want to discuss what I consider the gold standard: cold pressed organic, raw (unpasteurized) green juice. Store-bought fresh cold pressed juice has a shelf life of 3 days and is optimal. Most people do not have a cold true cold pressed juicer at home. Locally, in Oakland, you can purchase raw organic cold pressed juice from Uptown Juice. My favorite is Greenie in a Bottle, for it has the least amount of sugar. This type of juice is superior to the more commercial widely available juices above.
Centrifugal juicers (typical home juicers) lose nutrients in the process through oxidation (air) and heat (friction) and are therefore best consumed as soon as they are made. Mastication juicers (also available for home use) are better than centrifugal but none as as good as cold pressed.
Essentially what you are looking for is a low sugar green juice using all organic vegetables with no added sweetener, fruit purees or fruit juice concentrate. Lemons are an exception as they add a wonderful flavor, great micronutrients, and only a few grams of sugar. A non-GMO project label on the bottle is reassuring but if the ingredients are organic then they are also non-GMO by definition. Cold pressed means it is never heated or exposed to overheating and oxidation which are typical with centrifugal processing. Raw or unpasteurized means it has not been heated or flash pasteurized and therefore the vitamins have not been damaged by the heat.
Navigating the grocery store and making healthy educated choices is not easy even in a store like Whole Foods or Berkeley Bowl. That is why I designed my programs to include a guided grocery store tour. Discussing the sugar content of green juices is just one example of the kinds of practical information my clients gain from the tour. And of course there is so much more. We spend a couple of hours in the store discussing the best options for you and your family based on your diet and lifestyle preferences. I have been giving tours for years, to hundreds of clients, and no one has ever left Berkeley Bowl of Whole Foods without gaining new and insightful health promoting information.
If you would like to schedule a guided grocery store tour to either Berkeley Bowl or Whole Foods contact me