Why is 150ml important?

100% unsweetened pure juice, whether it’s from fruit or vegetables, counts as one of your 5-a-day. For most fruit and veg, the portion size is around 80g (or what can fit into your hand, as a guide). It’s a bit messy estimating the amount of juice you can fit into your hand, so dieticians worked out that a small glass, or 150ml, is about right to give you the ideal ‘me-sized’ amount of juice to count as an equivalent portion. Make sure you choose juice rather than ‘juice drinks’ which often contain added sugar and so these don’t count as one your 5-a-day.

Getting the right ‘me-sized’ portion is important to get the right balance of nutrients your body needs to work at its best. As the saying goes, ‘Enough is as good as a feast’, and that is true with juice – 150ml is enough to pack a tasty, nutritious punch, without giving you an excess of free sugar. Juice counts as only one portion, even if you drink more than 150ml, or if you drink different types, because juice doesn’t contain all of the fibre that a whole fruit or veg would have, so include fresh, frozen or canned fruit and veg everyday too.

We know that people struggle to get all of their 5-a-day, so just a 150ml portion of pure juice is a simple, convenient and delicious way of getting towards this goal. Choosing a more nutrient-packed juice makes great sense as you get even better health-value for your 150ml.

Want to know more? Visit www.nhs.uk/Livewell/5ADAY/Pages/Portionsizes

What does “free sugars” mean and why do they matter?

Free sugar is a new term that describes the sugars added to food and drinks by the consumer, the cook, or the manufacturer. It also includes those sugars found naturally in honey, syrups and in unsweetened fruit juices.

Fruit juices contain free sugars because the natural sugars present, which give fruit its sweet taste, are released from the plant cells in fruit during the squeezing of juice or blending of smoothies.

Free sugars have been linked with increased risk of tooth decay; also calories from sugars (like an excess of any source of calories) can lead to weight gain. So, limiting the amount of free sugars you eat, alongside good oral hygiene, helps to reduce risk of dental cavities, whilst eating the amount of calories the body needs (me-sized calories) helps to keep a healthy ‘me-sized’ weight.

Sugars aren’t banned though! The Department of Health recommends that adults should have no more than 70g of free sugars a day, on average, so choosing a juice which has lower sugar content, whilst retaining all of the valuable vitamins and minerals, helps to achieve this target.

It’s all about quality as well as quantity where sugar is concerned. Just as a guide, the amount of free sugar in a 150ml glass of orange flavoured fizzy pop is around 10.4g, with negligible vitamin C, whereas a 150ml glass of Coldpress Valencian Orange contains similar amounts of naturally-present sugar, but packs a deliciously whopping 90% of your daily recommended vitamin C requirement!

Why should I drink juice at breakfast?

Pure 100% juice is incredibly packed with vitamin C, and this special nutrient is known for its role in helping to reduce tiredness and fatigue. On top of that, vitamin C help your body to make the best use of the mineral iron, which is found in many of the foods that we tend to eat for breakfast. The type of iron found in breakfast cereal and in toast can be better absorbed and used by the body when it is eaten alongside a source of vitamin C, such as juice. As iron also helps reduce tiredness it’s a win-win combination to kick-start the day.

Starting the day with a 150ml portion of juice at breakfast time also starts you on course to reach your 5-a-day before even leaving the house. An easy and tasty goal to set every day.

What is nutrient density all about?

There is no single food which can provide all of the right amounts of all of the nutrients that every body needs to work properly. And that’s a good thing, because it means we need to enjoy a variety of different foods to stay in tip top health.

Some foods are rich in a particular combination of vitamins, whilst others are packed with several important minerals. It’s all about mixing it up and getting a tasty combination of different foods.

One way of looking at nutrition is exploring the nutrient density of foods. This means looking at how much nutrition richness or ‘value’ you get from eating a food. In other words, nutrition ‘bang for your buck’.

Eating a combination of foods that are nutrient dense means that you can get all of the essential nutrients packed into the right ‘me-sized’ portions and the right amount of energy, or calories, that your body needs to work properly. Or put another way, getting more value from the calories you eat.

Fruit juice is a highly nutrient-dense foods, because it is so rich, for example in vitamin C, compared to the calories it contains – its ‘energy density’. But alongside that vitamin C, there are plenty of naturally-occurring plant-based nutrients, or ‘phytonutrients’ that we know could be helpful in protecting the body from the harmful changes. That’s why a small 150ml portion is all that’s needed.

Why are vitamin / nutrients heat sensitive and free sugar is not?

Processing methods and cooking can alter the properties of a food, changing its taste, or simply making it edible. It simply wouldn’t do to eat a raw potato rather than one that’s cooked. Heating foods changes the chemistry of their natural composition, and this can affect the taste and texture, but also affects the nutrients that they contain.

Some nutrients are not affected by heat or processing, they are stable and so stay the same afterwards. Free sugar is one of the parts of a food which stays the same, nutritionally speaking, when it is heated, through cooking or processing, and so we know it is not heat sensitive. The sugar molecule in a fresh apple is the same as the sugar molecule in apple pie.

On the other hand, some vitamins are very sensitive to heat, and even sensitive to light and exposure to air! For example, when the naturally-present vitamin C in a fruit is exposed to excessive heat, such as during pasteurisation or orange juice, the heat changes its structure, destroying some of the delicate vitamin molecules and so they are no longer as useful to the body.

What are antioxidants and polyphenols and why are they so useful?

Antioxidants are naturally-present chemicals found in certain foods including vegetables, fruits, nuts and wholegrains.

Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant chemical, naturally abundant in plant foods, and these are often responsible for giving a food its characteristic colour or taste, and even disease resistance in the plant. For example, in apples, polyphenols called flavonoids are important compounds.

It isn’t exactly certain how they work, but, in theory, antioxidants may help protect cells in our bodies against the harmful effects of the so-called unstable ‘free radical’ particles (produced by our own metabolism including natural ‘oxidation’, but also from pollutants and cigarette smoke) which can cause damage to the DNA in our cells. The antioxidants quench the free radicals, making them harmless. Antioxidant nutrients include beta-carotene (which can be made into vitamin A), vitamin C, vitamin E and the mineral selenium.

Studies which have researched the benefits of antioxidant supplements have found mixed results, and the antioxidant theory, although plausible, is a lot more complicated when it’s applied to real people outside the science laboratory. Some free-radicals are not quite the villain, whilst some oxidation is a good thing!

Confusing stuff, but it seems that the benefit to health is in the range of different food sources we eat that contain antioxidants. So having a variety of different fruit and veg, or eating a rainbow, is good news for health.

Prepared by Dr. Frankie Phillips