Is Fruit Juice Healthier Than Fruit?

Conventional wisdom about fruit juice goes something like this: Whole fruit is healthier than juice because it is unprocessed, because it's more filling, because it has fewer calories, because juice has been linked to childhood obesity and so on.

But according to an article from Reuters UK, new research might turn that wisdom on its head. Researchers in France have found processed fruit juice might just be healthier than the fruit itself.

The study showed that grape juice had a powerful effect on slowing atherosclerosis, the build-up of fatty plaque which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

At least, that's what happened with some (presumably chubby) hamsters on a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet.

The hamsters were split into five groups, two of which each got purple grapes or apples, and two which got purple grape juice and apple juice. The fifth batch of hamsters served as the experiment's control group.

The findings showed that purple grape juice — already known to be a disease-fighter — has 2.5 times more phenolic compounds, the antioxidants that are linked to multiple health benefits, including lower cholesterol.

In addition, apple juice, grapes and apples were shown to reduce hardening of the arteries in hamsters that had high cholesterol levels.

At the end of the study, researchers found that the hamsters' cholesterol levels dropped by 34 percent in the group that got grape juice, 30 percent in those that ate purple grapes, 24 percent in the hamsters that drank apple juice, and by 11 percent in the group that ate apples.

Apparently, all those flavoids and phenols found in grapes deliver the mightiest punch when it comes to heart disease.

So, clearly the takeaway message here is simple: An apple a day is good, but a glass of red wine... er, I mean grape juice, is much, much better.

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