For the last few years, scientists and dietitians have advised us to eat whole fruit and not drink fruit juice. Studies, including one published in the British Medical Journal in 2013, found fruit juice to be associated with an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, while eating fruits whole lowers that risk (as well as lowering the risk of many other chronic diseases). As a result, current public health advice recommends that we limit our fruit juice intake to a mere 150ml a day.
The reason for this is that fruit juice has a high glycaemic index (a measure of how quickly carbohydrates in a food boost blood sugar, commonly known as GI), most likely because it passes through the digestive system much more rapidly than fibre-rich fruit.
A new study, however, published in Nutrition & Diabetes, brings very good news about fruit juice. There is a caveat, though, regarding the preparation of the juice (so don’t rush to the supermarket just yet).
A team of scientists from the University of Plymouth in the UK – led by Dr Michael Jarvis and Dr Gail Rees – carried out research investigating the effect of fruit juice prepared using the increasingly popular nutrient extractors on the market, like the NutriBullet. Because NutriBullet-type blenders break down food particles to their smallest size, health professionals had always assumed that the extracted nutrients and sugars in the juice would result in rapid glucose absorption, spiking sugar levels in the same way commercially prepared fruit juice does. But this study turned that assumption on its head.
The team examined the effect of whole-fruit consumption compared with juice prepared in a nutrient extractor. Participants ate mixed fruit – banana, mango, granadillas, pineapple, kiwi and raspberries – in their whole form and drank it in juice, and their blood glucose levels were measured after consumption. And, what a surprise, the juice from the NutriBullet actually resulted in a lower GI than that of the whole fruit.
Then they took mango on its own – a known high-sugar fruit – and tested it the same way. This study showed no difference in GI between the juice from a nutrient extractor and consuming the fruit whole.
The extraordinary findings of this study, therefore, show that blending fruit in a nutrient extractor is indeed a healthy way of getting in your five-a-day, particularly if you suffer from, or are at risk of Type 2 diabetes.
“This empirical data opened the door for health professionals to use NutriBullet blenders as part of a dietetic strategy to help people with glycaemic control,” says Dr Susie Rockway, VP of Research & Development and Nutritionist at NutriBullet. “The results of utilising our nutrient extractor in the consumption of fruits has been groundbreaking and something we’re excited to share with the general public as a way to increase fruit intake, worry free.”