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Fresh juices good for health, light on pocket

July 19, 2012

KARACHI, July 18: When the markets are flooded with all types of fizzy drinks and juices containing artificial flavours, it’s no less than a blessing that one can still find pure fresh juices and that too at affordable rates in different parts of the city.

While no one can guarantee about the hygiene and purity of the water used in their making, the ingredients used in the juices have so many health benefits that people take pot luck and mostly enjoy them.

“Lahore ka mashhoor jaw ka sattu sharbet,” says the hoarding on a pushcart, and here it is in Karachi! “Sattu is the best sharbet that you can have in this summer heat,” said Nasir Ali, the pushcart vendor at the corner of Burns Road. “Rs15 for a medium glass and Rs20 for a big one, it is both affordable and refreshing,” he added.

His cart has packets of powder, crushed jaggery or gur, lentils and chickpeas. “I add lots of sugar to the sattu sharbet, which wouldn’t be good for diabetics. So for them, I have the chana or gur sharbet. Gur sharbet also helps clear dry throat,” he said.

“Sattu or barley sherbet contains potassium, magnesium and zinc, which is good for the brain,” said nutritionist Anam Jalil, who works as a researcher with the Pakistan Nutrition and Diabetic Society, while speaking to Dawn on Wednesday.

“Then the nutrients in the drink also help control blood pressure. For instance, waiting for the bus for hours in heat can raise one’s blood pressure, but if one’s blood pressure is in control one won’t feel hot. The nutrients in barley drinks also carry antibiotics and antioxidants. The good bacteria in it prevent cancer, especially colon cancer and while controlling cholesterol, it is good for the heart, too,” said Ms Jalil.

Lemonade is another reasonably cheap roadside refreshment selling at Rs8 for a medium glass and Rs10 for a big one. “The rates will be the same even if the lime is not juicy and I need to use more,” said Mohammad Nadeem selling the sharbet on M.A. Jinnah Road.

Alongside the lime he has displayed several bottles of Rooh Afza. “Some people want me to add lime to Rooh Afza,” he said. “I buy in bulk. One bottle of Rooh Afza costs me Rs130 and the lime I get from Empress Market. Around 10kg lasts two to three days, making the sharbet light on the pocket,” he said.

More benefits of lemonade were explained by the nutritionist when she said: “It has Vitamin C, which is very good for the skin, besides it is good for the digestive system and maintaining cholesterol.”

Turning towards Pakistan Chowk, one stumbles over a sugarcane juice vendor. Rs10 and Rs20 for a medium and large glass here too. The sugarcane, according to the vendor, Saleem, comes from Sohrab Goth. “I get seven sugarcanes for Rs150,” he said. But how does he make his profit? “I add lots and lots of ice,” said the smart fellow.

When the nutritionist was asked about it, she said: “Yes, where sugarcane juice is good for liver function and helps in jaundice and typhoid, the ice if not clean can also be the cause of these illnesses. Still it is a rich source of Vitamin A and Vitamin B-1 [thiamine],” she added.

The falsa sharbet is also very popular. According to the specialist, it is great for the digestive system. “The antioxidants in falsa helps fix stomach upsets,” she pointed out. “It also helps prevent cancer and is very good for diabetics, if taken without sugar, of course. Also helpful in the common cold, and due to high iron content, it is also good for pregnant women,” added the expert.

As for watermelon juice also being sold almost everywhere, she said, “There is a misconception about watermelon that it may not be good for diabetics. Anyone can have watermelon or its juice. It has flabnoids and with Vitamins A, B-1 B2 and B3 is more of a vitamin supplement,” she explained.

Finally, for the ever-favourite summer drink, lassi, the nutritionist said that it was a great source of calcium. “It helps in arthritis and joint pains, especially pain in the knee joint,” she pointed out. “Then it has probiotics, too, and promotes gut health. Also helps prevent colon cancer and is healthy for the heart. Diabetics, too, can have it, though not the sweet variety. And if you suffer from hypertension, then you should have it with very little salt or sugar. Another thing about lassi is that you can also feed a spoon or two of it to children above one year,” she said.

All these drinks, with the exception of sugarcane juice, of course, can be easily prepared at home. That is what is advised. During Ramazan, when you can’t have them in the day, you can have buckets full at iftar.