Fruit juices: the bad, the good and the ugly
Picture the vision of a healthy breakfast. No matter if you go for eggs, sweet or dairy-based breakfast, probably there will be the image of a glass of fruit juice included. We are all aware of the importance of vitamins and nowadays a glass of orange juice is universally considered healthy.
I don’t know if it happened also to you. When I have breakfast in some hotel usually it is more then I would eat at home and also less healthy because there are so many things I like, and all included. So I tend to take also a glass of fruit juice that gives me the idea I am not eating too bad as at least I got my vitamins.
But is the healthy reputation of fruit juice justified?
I’m not talking about fruit drinks or fruit nectars that are known for containing lots of artificial addings, sugar and little fruit. I am talking about the 100% fruit juice with no sugar added. Does that sound like a healthy or not?
Now look at the table below for servings of 12 ounces (350ml):
Coca-Cola: 140 calories and 40 grams of sugar (10 teaspoons)
Apple juice: 165 calories and 39 grams of sugar (9.8 teaspoons)
Orange juice: 150 calories and 36 grams of sugar (9 teaspoons)
Grapefruit juice: 135 calories and 34 grams of sugar (8,5 teaspoons)
Grandberry juice: 190 calories and 46 grams of sugar (11,5 teaspoons)
How about the no sugar added?
100% fruit juices indeed have no sugar added. For the European law, you cannot even add sugar or they won’t be called 100% fruit juice anymore.
The fact is that fruits are naturally full of sugars and concentrates of juices are therefor a fruity way to get something very sweet without adding any white sugar or corn syrup.
The liquid sugar bomb.
Half of the sugar contained in fruit juice is made of fructose. Fructose not only is metabolized by the liver to be stored as fat but also doesn’t give your body any satiety signal as glucose instead does. Research has found that it can trigger changes in the brain that stimulate overeating and weight gain.
That isn’t a problem in the whole fruit as the fibers contained in it will give the sense of satiety. Furthermore, when the sugar is held in the fiber and pectin matrix of the whole fruit it will be released slowly to the body. However, when that matrix is broken as by making a juice it will cause a quick rise in sugar and insulin in your blood.
A quick experiment at home let me find out that it takes 3 oranges to make a little glass of orange juice (6 ounces). Which left me after the 30 seconds that took me to finish it with a great taste in my mouth and no sense of satiety at all. Try to add 3 to 6 whole oranges to your breakfast. I think I couldn’t even finish them all.
So what is the good about fruit juice? First of all the taste. I really love the taste of fresh squeezed orange juice. Second, it contains vitamins, lot’s of vitamin C. However for your daily needs it would be enough if you just eat 1 orange instead of the 3 to 6 that go into a juice.
This doesn’t mean that I am against the consumption of fruit juice. I just would like to make you aware that you should remove it mentally from the ‘healthy food’ category to the category of cola, wine or cakes. Especially when you want to lose weight. It has no sense to drink your coffee or thee without sugar and then grab a juice which contains up to 10 times more teaspoons of sugar than the one or two you just avoided.