Yesterday I had a conversation with my uncle about why juice isn’t as healthy as whole fruit, and I wanted to share this information with my readers, because I think it’s one of the most important nutrition concepts to understand. That concept has everything to do with fiber.
Consuming enough fiber is absolutely essential for health, and it can only be found in plants; in other words, in whole fruits, whole vegetables, and whole grains. I italicized the word “whole” because very often when these plant foods are refined (think white bread and fruit juice), the refining process completely eliminates the fiber.
Here are some great things fiber does:
- It swells up in your stomach so that you feel more satiated
- It delays the release of sugar into your blood, which is especially important if you have or are at risk for diabetes
- It lowers blood cholesterol, thereby lowering risk of heart disease
- It promotes regular movement through your digestive tract, which promotes colon health and prevents constipation
Humans developed a taste for the sweet sugar fructose throughout our evolution because in times of food scarcity that sweetness, found in fruit, provided a rich source of carbohydrate energy. In nature, this sugar was and is always accompanied by fiber, usually ensuring that we don’t over consume, because it stretches the stomach and increases feelings of fullness. For instance, who eats more than one apple at a time? Apple juice, on the other hand, is very easy to over-drink, because it has no fiber to help your stomach gauge, so to speak, how much energy you’ve consumed. Juice is much more calorie dense, even though it usually retains vitamins and other micronutrients found in the whole fruit. So while I’d agree that 100% fruit juice is more nutritious choice than soda, it promotes weight gain to the same degree.
Regardless of weight, fiber is something you should constantly seek in your diet for all the reasons Iisted above, and because with fiber in whole plant foods comes a slew of other important nutrients –all the more reason to eat a plant based diet. So go ahead, fill up on fiber.