Fruit Juice – Is It Healthy, And Is It Paleo?
Yummy, delicious, sweet, refreshing fruit juice. Everyone remembers growing up sucking on the straw of a juice box. I was an absolute juice fanatic. If it wasn’t sweet, I wasn’t drinking it. Looking back at it now, it’s unfortunate to realize I was consuming not real fruit juice, but some concoction made up of pasteurized/concentrated juice, high fructose corn syrup, toxic preservatives, and food dyes. Thankfully, I, and you guys, can still get REAL fruit juice by making it on our own.
However, the question of the hour still stands – is fruit juice considered paleo, or healthy?
Well, let’s think about it. Paleo-man obviously didn’t have access to modern technology that would have produced large amounts of fruit juice from whole fruit plants. He could have still squeezed the fruits by hand though. You can easily crush an orange over your mouth and catch the juice, and plaeo-man could have done that, too. But with regards to the orange, the common sweet orange of today was never really found in the wild, according to Wikipedia. It was first cultivated in Southeast Asia around 2500 BC.
According to paleo diet authors, like Mark Sisson, berries would have been the common fruit to be consumed during the paleolithic era. These fruits aren’t too easy to juice by hand, especially if you’re looking to get rid of all the pulp. Berries are very rich in fiber and not as water- or juice-filled, so you can’t just squeeze them over your mouth and expect to swallow some fruit juice. Take a look at the baobab fruit, which makes up 36% of the Hadza hunter-gatherer diet!
How the heck can you juice that thing by hand?! So, it might not be realistic to think that Paleo-man was able to juice his fruits. Is that it though? Just because fruit juice is not paleo, should we rule it out as unhealthy? While what hunter-gatherers ate is a huge step up from the modern first-world diet, it doesn’t determine what is healthy and what is not healthy for our bodies.
For example, look at wild fish. Paleo-man would have caught wild fish (depending on where he was in the world), but if we look at wild fish today, some species of wild fish are absolutely contaminated with mercury and heavy metals. should we still get all of our fish caught wild? Or what about a product like coconut oil. It’s high in saturated fat, making it perfect for cooking, and high in medium-chain triglycerides, which has its own benefits (you can read about it on Pubmed, here and here). However, if Paleo-man would have gotten a coconut, would he have taken the time to expeller-press the oil out of it?
I don’t think he would have had this kind of machinery in the paleolithic era. Would it be logical to label coconut oil as unhealthy and mercury-filled fish as healthy, because one might or might not have been consumed in a real-life paleo diet? No, I really don’t think it’d be logical at all. So, why give fruit juice the same judgement?
Is Eating Paleo The Only Way To Be Healthy?
Really, all you’re doing is removing the fiber from the fruit, leaving you with a carbohydrate- and micronutrient-rich liquid. That doesn’t sound so horrible, does it?
Heck, if you’re already eating some veggies and fruit, you’ve got enough fiber in your diet. If you’re not already eating massive quantities of fruit and starches, then I bet the extra sugar from the fruit juice won’t make you diabetic or obese.
So, in the end, I say “forget paleo” and enjoy your freshly-squeezed, homemade orange juice.