Dear Dr. MO,
Thanks for making chocolate legit again. Is there any value to drinking V8 juice, other than hydration?
Great question! V8 is decent and does have value!
Let’s consider the original old-school V8. For an after-workout drink, it doesn’t have that “ideal ratio” of 3 or 4:1, with 10 grams of carbs and 2 grams of protein, but it has sodium, calcium, and potassium for electrolyte replacement! The majority of V8 is tomato juice, which is a healthy dose of lycopene (a carotenoid that has been associated with a reduced risk of some cancers) and some other exciting vitamins (K, C). The sodium is high, but as a post-workout drink for non-hypertensives (people who do not high blood pressure), I wouldn’t worry about it if you only have a can. If you are watching your sodium you could grab the low-sodium version (which has more potassium as well!). Of course if you are sodium-restricted for a medical reason, don’t have either. But note that there is no added sugar (the “sugar” grams on the label are only referring to the natural sugar in the veggies). Hooray!
That being said, it is unclear about how much of the V8 is made up of juices from the veggies listed in the ingredients list. I would consider this mostly reconstituted tomato juice, and less so juice of celery, carrots, beets, lettuce, etc.. This is fine; the availability of lycopene is higher in processed tomatoes! But just be aware and take it for what it is. 1. It is only juice, and only from predominantly one veggie, so it doesn’t take the place of whole veggies, which have fiber. 2. Don’t let it count towards your goal of eating a variety of vegetables, since it’s mostly just tomatoes. Also, some people are sodium sensitive (but that’s a blog for another day), so the higher sodium wouldn’t be recommended for them.
Overall, great question and good choice! You: A. V8: B
MS, RD, PhD
PS- Jet asked about V8 Fusion. I’m alright with it, too, though again, you should go with the whole fruit or veggie when there’s a choice. The Fusion is a lot lower in sodium, so it’s better for people who need to watch sodium in their diet. It’s also lower in potassium, though, making it a less than optimal post-workout drink. It has some Sucralose in it, which is considered safe (we’ll talk about it in a post sometime), and the amount of Sucralose in the Fusion is pretty small anyway. High doses of Sucralose (found in Splenda) aren’t awesome, as some complain of bloating and gas with it. But the amount in this drink is small, so not to worry.