Is V8 Veget-able to Replace Our Veggies
A Bite-Size Read for Your Health and Your Waistline
Do you remember the commercials? V8 is sold to us as a way to “get your veggies!” These days, they call it “the original plant powered drink” with “a full serving of vegetables,” and that makes us think we should be having it daily. Is that true or just marketing hype?
Let’s review those nutrition facts on the label. An eight-ounce V8 has 45 calories, but it’s not really the calories that we want to focus on; it’s what makes up those calories that counts. It contains 0g of fat, but 640mg of sodium (that’s a lot!). Here’s where it gets interesting: there are 9g of total carbs, 2g of fiber, 7g sugar and 2g of protein plus 40mg of calcium, 470mg of potassium, 180mcg of vitamin A and 72mg of vitamin C. What do we make of this?
It contains only 45 calories but almost all are coming from carbohydrates with only 2 grams of fiber. Noticing those 7g of sugar, we next look at the ingredients to see if these are the naturally occurring sugars in the vegetables or if they’re added. In the ingredients, it says vegetable juice (water and concentrated juices of tomatoes, carrots, celery, beets, parsley, lettuce, watercress, spinach). Then, it has salt, natural flavoring, vitamin C, beta carotene, and citric acid. Without seeing specifically sweeteners in the ingredients, we are left to assume the sugars are the naturally occurring ones (assuming they’re fully transparent on their labels which isn’t always the case but that’s an article for another day).
Another flag for me in the ingredients is the list of vitamins vs. the vitamins in the nutrition facts. Remember that we saw vitamin C, beta carotene (which is often a precursor to vitamin A), and citric acid. Citric acid is probably in there as a preservative, but it’s interesting that even the vitamins aren’t necessarily coming from the vegetables.
I always say, “Protein and fiber at every meal make removing fat no big deal!” When drinking V8, most of the carbs in these vegetables are sugars. Even when we’re eating naturally occurring sugar, we want that to be accompanied by fiber, protein, or quality fat to help blunt the impact of that sugar on our system. V8 has 0 grams of fat, so it’s not helping us manage the sugar. Not only that, V8 has less than ⅓ of an ounce of protein. For fiber, I recommend vegetables and fruit as the best sources. If we look at V8 to fill that need, we’re not getting it! Remember the 2g of fiber we read on the label? What we really want are packaged foods with a minimum of 5 grams of fiber.
For perspective, I did a comparison of V8, the drink, to eating its ingredients, the whole vegetables: tomatoes, carrots, celery, beets, parsley, watercress, and spinach. If we actually ate the whole foods, we would get 11.5 grams of fiber and 7.7 grams of protein. Now they do say that this is one serving of vegetables in the can. And if you ate all of those vegetables, it would be more than one serving (again, better for us anyway). But even if you had one serving of just carrots, you’d be getting 3.8 grams of fiber, which is almost twice the amount that’s in V8. And 640 milligrams of sodium is almost a third of the daily recommended amount of sodium in total… all from an eight-ounce drink that might be gone in a few seconds.
Bottom line, when we’re looking for vegetables, our best bet is to eat the whole food for optimal nutritional value and for health and energy. We can’t rely on those TV commercials or the marketing messages on the front of packages to guide our choices. And for what it’s worth, I’m a big fan of chewing my food…I’ll skip the juice and the V8.