Healthy juice doesn't have to be a DIY affair. Self tells us why store-bought juices can be just as healthy as homemade.
We're all for a good juice. We've been pulping everything from leafy greens to beets so often that we've forgotten about the good old (and convenient) standby: bottled juice. From tomato to tart cherry, check out the top eight varieties to reach for, based on their top-shelf health benefits. Bonus: one four-ounce serving of 100 percent juice counts as one serving (1/2 cup) of fruit.
As you know, OJ is high in vitamin C, which can help boost the immune system and is vital for the production of collagen in your skin. But, did you know it can contribute to bone health and may help to reduce PMS symptoms too? It's a good source of potassium—and you get bonus nutrients if your carton's fortified with calcium.
Tomato juice is richer in the antioxidant lycopene than raw tomatoes, and this nutrient may help to protect the skin from sun damage (hey, bikini season) and prevent certain types of cancers, including cervical and ovarian cancers. Plus, drinking tomato juice may protect against emphysema caused by exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke, according to a 2006 study published in the American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology. The study found that lab mice exposed to cigarette smoke that consumed tomato juice did not develop emphysema, while those that didn't consume the juice did eventually develop the disease. Look for lower-sodium varieties to keep the salt content in check.
According to an article in the American Institute for Cancer Research's newsletter, pomegranate juice may have even more antioxidant power than green tea! Antioxidants are important for overall health as well as disease prevention.
Tart Cherry Juice
Not only is tart cherry juice a great nightcap (it's one of the highest natural sources of melatonin, the hormone that helps us sleep soundly), but it also may help your muscles recover from a hard workout. According to researchers at Oregon Health and Science University, tart cherries may have the highest anti-inflammatory properties of any food. Studies have shown that athletes who drank tart cherry juice saw an improved performance while decreasing their use of anti-inflammatory meds.
Nearly 20 years of research suggests that 100 percent grape juice can help to support a healthy heart. A new study, presented at the American College of Nutrition's annual conference this past fall, adds to this body of work and suggests that drinking a glass of Concord grape juice a day promotes heart health by promoting healthy circulation too.
Pure cranberry juice has antioxidants in it that can help to prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. You already know it's known to prevent annoying urinary tract infections, but get this: it's one of the few juices that is a good source of vitamin E, an important anti-aging antioxidant. (Pro-tip: Look for just cranberry juice in the ingredient list—many times it is sold as a blend of juices or as a sugar-added cocktail drink.)
You (like every kid on the block) already know about the power of prune juice to keep you regular—it's naturally high in the sugar alcohol, sorbitol, which has a gentle laxative effect. It's also a surprisingly good source of potassium, a mineral that can help keep blood pressure in check and may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
There may be a sliver of truth to that old grapefruit diet fad after all. In a recent study from UC Berkeley, researchers found that mice that drank sweetened grapefruit juice gained less weight on a high-fat diet than those that drank sweetened water. The juice-drinking mice also had better blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. (Keep in mind that grapefruit juice can change the way your body metabolizes certain drugs, so if you are on any prescription medications check with your doctor before drinking this juice!)