The intent of this series is to normalize foods or a category of foods that diet culture tells us is unhealthy or unacceptable. It can be difficult to decipher fact from fiction. Many of the foods that are avoided or restricted could be part of your fueling toolbox to improve your performance, and your long-term health. Our first food to normalize covered dairy - so if you haven't read this yet, check it out!
Our next food to normalize: JUICE.
What the Research says about Juice for our Health
A 2018 systematic review looked at 100% fruit juice and associations between cardiometabolic health outcomes, liver disease, and dental caries found that there is no conclusive evidence that consumption of 100% fruit juice has adverse health effects. 100% fruit juice includes natural sugars from the fruit, as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals. Some juices are even fortified with vitamins, meaning these were added during processing.
100% fruit juice is included in the “fruit” section in the new 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines, and is recommended in addition to whole sources of fruit. Did you know that 80% of Americans do not meet fruit recommendations? Fruit juice is included as a serving of fruit, and can be included in a healthy eating pattern.
Look for juices that say “100% fruit juice” without added sugars. Another way you can determine the contents of a juice carton is by reading the ingredients label. Do the total sugars show “added sugars”? Does the ingredients label have “cane sugar” or any other sugar listed? If so, these are not 100% fruit juice and contain added sugars.
How might it impact your athletic performance?
100% fruit juice can be a minimal effort, and an efficient source of quickly digested carbohydrates as part of your pre- or post-recovery fueling. Juice makes an excellent base for a homemade sports drink or recovery smoothie. Orange juice is high in vitamin C (an antioxidant) and can be a valuable source of calcium and vitamin D. Look for cartons that say, “calcium and vitamin D fortified”. Vitamin D is a nutrient of concern amongst athletes and Americans as it is difficult to consume enough from food sources. In addition, some juices could take your performance to the next level.
Beetroot juice may improve your performance. Beetroot contains nitrate, a naturally occurring compound in vegetables. Nitrate improves blood flow, production of energy, and muscle contraction. A systematic review showed that trained endurance athletes and recreationally active, healthy adults, supplemented with beetroot juice enhanced their circulatory and respiratory systems work capacity and decreased time to exhaustion. It is important to note that these adults were endurance athletes, and these do not translate to all sports and resistance training. Endurance athletes defined as; runners, cyclists, triathletes, swimmers, and kayakers.
In endurance athletes, 8-12 oz. twice a day of Tart Cherry juice can promote better recovery due to it’s high antioxidant contents. Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize free radicals (inflammation) in the body, minimizing tissue breakdown. Inflammation is necessary for our bodies to adapt to training, however, lingering inflammation could stunt recovery. A diet high in antioxidants will assist with a better and speedier recovery.
So what are you waiting for? Don’t miss out on these yummy and sports enhancing fueling choices!
Written by Maddi Osburn RDN LD.
Auerbach BJ, Dibey S, Vallila-Buchman P, Kratz M, Krieger J. Review of 100% Fruit Juice and Chronic Health Conditions: Implications for Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Policy. Adv Nutr. 2018 Mar 1;9(2):78-85. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmx006. PMID: 29659683; PMCID: PMC5916434.
Domínguez R, Cuenca E, Maté-Muñoz JL, García-Fernández P, Serra-Paya N, Estevan MC, Herreros PV, Garnacho-Castaño MV. Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Athletes. A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017 Jan 6;9(1):43. doi: 10.3390/nu9010043. PMID: 28067808; PMCID: PMC5295087.
Vitale K, Getzin A. Nutrition and Supplement Update for the Endurance Athlete: Review and Recommendations. Nutrients. 2019 Jun 7;11(6):1289. doi: 10.3390/nu11061289. PMID: 31181616; PMCID: PMC6628334.
Picture obtained from; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_juice