Juices: Nutrition in a Glass (cont.)

These days, food manufacturers are tossing in vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients to get you to buy their juice. Vitamin C is a popular additive, and for most of us, an added dose is beneficial, especially during cold and flu season.

Fortified orange juice has also become one of the most popular ways to deliver extra calcium. One glass can provide the same amount of absorbable calcium as a glass of milk. This is an easy way to get calcium into your diet if you are lactose-intolerant or otherwise unable to get three daily servings of dairy foods. But if your diet includes plenty of calcium-rich dairy foods along with multivitamin containing calcium, choose regular juice instead.

Further, getting a healthier heart may be as easy as drinking a daily glass or two of orange juice fortified with cholesterol-lowering plant sterols. The FDA has allowed some foods containing plant sterols to carry labels claiming that they can help reduce the risk of heart disease. But don't throw away your cholesterol-lowering medication quite yet; the sterols reduce cholesterol levels by only about 10%. Check with your doctor about whether these juices (or cholesterol-lowering spreads like Take Control and Benecol) are right for you.

You can also find juices with an array of other added vitamins and minerals, as well as herbal ingredients such as ginseng and wheatgrass. These added nutrients are not typically lacking in our diets. And there's no need to supplement your eating plan with botanical remedies, many of which have few, if any, proven health benefits. The end result: These pumped-up juices generally aren't any better than good old-fashioned orange juice, and they tend to cost more.

So let's raise a glass to informed choices and moderation, and enjoy your juice!

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