Curly Questions

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So many times one reads: ‘Eat nuts regularly – a small handful’. Since hand sizes differ greatly I would appreciate if possible some kind of measurement.
Good question. That serving ‘a small handful’ is 30–50 g (1–1¾ oz) and doesn’t include the tempting salted kinds. Enjoy that unsalted ‘handful’ 5–7 times a week and halve your risk of developing heart disease. Even people who eat nuts once a week have less heart disease than those who don’t eat any nuts.


I have been tracking the stories about consumption of fruit juices and the correlation with type 2 diabetes. Should we give up fruit juice altogether and stick to raw fruit? What’s the causal relationship between fruit juice consumption and type 2 diabetes?
Eating fresh fruit as a snack when you are hungry and drinking water when you are thirsty is always going to be a better option than gulping down a glass of juice, but we wouldn’t say give up juice altogether. We would say think of juice as an occasional or keep-for-a-treat food (note we use the word ‘food’ here and not ‘drink’), and be judicious re portion sizes. A serving is only about 1/2 cup or 125 ml. That’s not a lot. Liquid calories are a little stealthier than most, in that they tend to sneak past the satiety centre in our brain, which would normally help to stop us from overeating. Here’s what Catherine Saxelby says in her article on juice and juicing in June 2008 GI News:

‘Fruit juice is fruit that’s concentrated. Juices pack in a lot of kilojoules/calories and represent fruit in a form that’s all too easy to seriously over consume. The fibre and intact structure have been removed, and with that goes the ‘natural brake to over consumption. Look at this comparison:

  • A 200 g (7 oz) apple PROVIDES 3 g fibre and 300 kilojoules (71 calories) and TAKES 10 minutes to eat.
  • A 650 ml glass or bottle of apple juice (2½ cups) PROVIDES zero fibre and 1300 kilojoules (309 calories) and TAKES 2 minutes to drink. In fact a large juice is equivalent in food value to 4 apples but takes a fraction of the time and volume to drink and you are missing out on the fibre in the skin.’

As for the second part of your question, Julie Palmer’s study referred to in September GI News suggests that the mechanism for the increase in diabetes risk associated with soft drink and fruit drink consumption is primarily through increased weight from the calories. The fruit drinks she is referring to aren’t 100% fruit juice. They are diluted and sweetened juice sold as ‘fruit juice drinks’ like Ribena and ‘cordials’ like Orange Crush in Australia. They noted no association between type 2 diabetes risk and grapefruit juice or orange juice.


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