Wondering what's the best way to start your day? A morning juice might be exactly what you need to stay fresh and energized until late noon.
From breakfast staples like orange and grapefruit juice to functional beverages like wheatgrass juice, you'll never run out of options. These beverages pack more nutrition than milk or coffee and come in a rainbow of flavors.
Fruit and vegetable juices boast a high nutritional value, and each has unique properties. Beetroot juice, for example, may improve athletic performance and physical endurance. Orange juice keeps your brain sharp and enhances cognition.
What's the Healthiest Breakfast Juice?
Fruit and vegetable juices are perceived as a healthy substitute for soft drinks. However, this isn't always the case. According to a large-scale study published in JAMA Network Open in May 2019, fruit juices often contain just as much sugar as soda. Whole fruit consumption has been shown to protect against diabetes, whereas fruit juices may increase the risk of developing this disease.
As the researchers point out, moderation is the key. Drinking up to seven 5-ounce glasses of fruit juice per week may lower the risk of stroke by 24 percent and the risk of heart disease by as much as 17 percent. Furthermore, the JAMA Network Open study reported that these beverages may improve cognitive performance, reduce oxidative stress and protect against inflammation. Orange juice, for example, may reduce the risk of cognitive decline in middle-aged adults and seniors.
The problem is that most fruit juices are high in sugar and may lead to cardiometabolic disorders when consumed in excess. Pineapple juice, for instance, contains 12.4 grams of sugars per serving (half a cup). The same amount of orange juice provides over 10 grams of sugars.
However, your morning juice is still a healthier option than coke, milkshakes and caffeinated beverages. If you're on a diet or trying to cut down on sugar, opt for vegetable juices. Compared to fruit juice, they're lower in carbs and calories and fit into most diets. Experiment with different kinds of juice to boost your nutrient intake and discover new flavors.
Wheatgrass Juice Fights Oxidative Stress
If you're looking for a low-carb, low-calorie morning juice, wheatgrass is your best choice. One shot of wheatgrass juice has just 5 calories and boasts large doses of phytonutrients.
According to a research paper published in the Journal of Pharmacy & BioAllied Sciences in October 2015, this green plant is chock full of enzymes, amino acids, antioxidants and chlorophyll. Depending on your preferences, you can either grow it at home or buy it in powder, pill or liquid form.
A July 2018 review featured in the Journal of Food Science states that wheatgrass is rich in proteins that fight oxidative stress and support energy metabolism. It's also an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin E and antioxidants that may induce cancer cell death and prevent chronic diseases, though more research is needed to confirm these findings. Due to its high chlorophyll content, wheatgrass juice may help reduce inflammation and free radical damage.
This plant is by no means a cure-all, as the Mayo Clinic points out. However, it can improve your nutrient intake and add variety to your diet. Wheatgrass and its juice are derived from the common wheat plant, so they may not be safe for people with celiac disease or wheat allergies.
Orange Juice Increases Brainpower
Fresh orange juice is a powerhouse of nutrition. One serving has 56 calories with nearly 70 percent of the daily recommended vitamin C intake. It's also a good source of magnesium, potassium, folate, carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin.
Read more: Why Is My Body Craving Orange Juice?
Citrus juice, including orange juice, may reduce body mass index, according to an October 2016 research paper published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. Red orange juice appears to be particularly beneficial. A study featured in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition in October 2015 suggests that it may lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure and inflammatory markers in as little as two months, leading to a lower risk of metabolic syndrome.
As mentioned earlier, orange juice can also enhance cognitive function. In August 2015, a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition assessed the effects of this beverage on healthy, middle-aged adults. Subjects who consumed 240 milliliters of orange juice between breakfast and lunch scored higher on executive function and psychomotor speed tests than when they were given only a placebo. As the scientists note, this drink may boost cognition over the course of six hours.
If you're getting ready for an exam, start the day with a glass of fresh orange juice. It could give you a competitive edge and increase your chances of passing the test. Plus, this classic breakfast juice is rich in vitamin C, a nutrient that helps your body fight oxidative stress and produce collagen.
Beetroot Juice Boosts Exercise Performance
This colorful juice is a favorite choice for athletes and gym-goers. According to a January 2017 review published in the journal Nutrients, it may increase cardiorespiratory endurance and boost physical performance.
As the researchers point out, beetroot juice raises nitric oxide levels, leading to increased blood flow, vasodilatation and enhanced mitochondrial function. Elevated nitric oxide production may also improve muscle function and cause stronger muscle contractions, leading to better workouts.
The above review shows that beetroot juice may delay fatigue during exercise and boost cardiovascular fitness. It's particularly beneficial for endurance athletes due to its ability to reduce oxygen consumption.
Researchers recommend drinking this beverage about 90 minutes before training. If you exercise in the morning, swap your cup of joe for beetroot juice to make the most of your workout. This natural drink may interact with caffeine, so it's better to avoid this combo.
Read more: Why Are Beets Good for You?
The health benefits of beetroot juice don't end here. This beverage may also reduce blood pressure, improve muscular power during high-intensity exercise and scavenge free radicals. Furthermore, it's rich in betacyanins, a class of antioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects.
Pomegranate Juice Reduces Inflammation
Have you ever tried pomegranate juice? This delicious morning drink is chock-full of antioxidants. It provides large amounts of polyphenols and other bioactive compounds with anti-inflammatory action. A review published in Nutrients in August 2017 suggests that pomegranate juice can benefit people with inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, arthritis and other ailments caused by inflammation.
In a July 2012 study published in Free Radical Biology & Medicine, hemodialysis patients who consumed this beverage daily for one year experienced significant improvements in cardiovascular risk factors. Several other studies cited in the Nutrients review have linked pomegranate juice to a lower risk of atherosclerosis, reduced blood pressure and improved blood lipids. Researchers attribute these effects to the high levels of phenolic compounds.
Compared to other fruit juices, this beverage is slightly higher in sugar. One serving (a half cup) provides 67 calories, 16.3 grams of carbs, 15.7 grams of sugars and large doses of potassium, phosphorus and B-complex vitamins. Soft drinks, on the other hand, pack more carbs per serving and contain nothing but empty calories. Healthy morning drinks, such as pomegranate juice, offer both flavor and nutrition.
- JAMA Network: "Are Fruit Juices Just as Unhealthy as Sugar-Sweetened Beverages?"
- USDA: "Pineapple Juice"
- USDA: "Orange Juice"
- USDA: "Organic Wheatgrass Shots"
- Journal of Pharmacy & BioAllied Sciences: "Chromatographic Analysis of Wheatgrass Extracts"
- Journal of Food Science: "Nutritional Quality and Antioxidant Activity of Wheatgrass (Triticum aestivum) Unwrap by Proteome Profiling and DPPH and FRAP Assays"
- NCBI: Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry: "The Medical Use of Wheatgrass: Review of the Gap Between Basic and Clinical Applications"
- NCBI: Inflammation: "Chlorophyll Revisited: Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Chlorophyll a and Inhibition of Expression of TNF-α Gene by the Same"
- Mayo Clinic: "Should I Add Wheatgrass to My Smoothies for Better Health?"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Orange Juice"
- Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition: "100% Citrus Juice: Nutritional Contribution, Dietary Benefits, and Association With Anthropometric Measures"
- International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition: "Red-Fleshed Sweet Orange Juice Improves the Risk Factors for Metabolic Syndrome"
- European Journal of Nutrition: "Flavonoid-Rich Orange Juice Is Associated With Acute Improvements in Cognitive Function in Healthy Middle-Aged Males"
- NIH: "Vitamin C"
- MDPI: Nutrients: "Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Athletes. A Systematic Review"
- NCBI: Advances in Nutrition: "The Nitrate-Independent Blood Pressure-Lowering Effect of Beetroot Juice: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis"
- NCBI: Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: "Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Intermittent High-Intensity Exercise Efforts"
- Cancer.gov: "Beetroot Juice"
- NCBI: Nutrients: "The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease"
- MDPI: Nutrients: "Could Pomegranate Juice Help in the Control of Inflammatory Diseases?"
- NCBI: Free Radical Biology & Medicine: "One Year of Pomegranate Juice Intake Decreases Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Incidence of Infections in Hemodialysis Patients: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial"
- USDA: "Pomegranate Juice"
- Journal of Medical Genetics: Inflammation, Genetics and Longevity