Are fruit juices healthy

Are fruit juices healthy?

Pawel Malczewski
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Short Summary

Fruit juices are almost as bad as sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) due to their high sugar levels. High levels of fructose and a high Glycemic Load override any benefits derived from the micronutrients they contain. For a quick answer click here.

Explanation

Although fruit juices are generally a good source of micronutrients, the negative effects of the high concentrations of sugars they contain outweigh the benefits these nutrients may contribute. In fact, the amount of sugars in fruit juices is comparable to SSB (Sugar-sweetened beverages) and the extent of the impact on the cardiovascular health is very similar.

There are several reasons why fruit juices are unhealthy, such as (1)Gill J, Sattar N. Fruit juice: just another sugary drink? Diabetes and Endocrinology. Volume 2, No. 6, p444–446, June 2014. Available here.:

Fruit juices contain very high amounts of sugars

The table below compares the amount of sugar in some soft drinks and various juices, including vegetable juice for comparison.

AmountCoca-cola (2)THE COCA-COLA COMPANY. How much sugar is in Coca‑Cola? Available here.Apple juice (3)Agricultural Research Service. United States Department of Agriculture Nutritional information for apple juice. Available here.Sprite (4)Agricultural Research Service. United States Department of Agriculture Nutritional information for sprite. Available here.Orange juice (5)Agricultural Research Service. United States Department of Agriculture Nutritional information for orange juice. Available here.Mixed tomato and vegetable juice (6)Agricultural Research Service. United States Department of Agriculture Nutritional information for mixed tomato and vegetable juice. Available here.
Percent of total beverage11%9%9%8%3%
Amount of sugar in 355ml (12oz) of beverage38g
(9.4 tsp)
34g
(8.4 tsp)
32g
(8 tsp)
30g
(7.5 tsp)
12g
(2.9 tsp)

Fruit juices are high in calories

  • Fruit juices contribute significantly to the energy intake. A glass of a fruit juice (e.g. apple juice) of the size of 355ml (equivalent to a can of soda) contains 34 grams of simple sugars (136 calories) which is almost as high as the contents of cans of soda such as Coke or Sprite.
    In addition, fruit juices, just as SSB, are not satiating (as explained in the next point on fructose) which only adds additional calories to the usual intake from food.

Fruit juices have high fructose contents

  • High amounts of fructose reduce the circulating leptin – a hormone that makes us stop being hungry. As a result, we are prone to eat more than we really require for our energy needs.
  • High concentrations of fructose from fruit juices, such as from SSB, lead to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome disease. (read more..)
    Fructose in fruit juices

Fruit juices have high glucose contents

  • While the Glycemic Load (GL) of the standard serving of a fruit juice is, on average, in the medium range, in practice, common servings are larger and, therefore, are in the high GL category. Due to the high GL, fruit juices are especially harmful for diabetics, although they cause elevated blood glucose levels in healthy individuals, and may lead to increased insulin resistance.

Fruit juices have negligible amount of fiber

  • The process of juicing removes most of the fiber from the fruit, although some soluble fiber still remains. While whole fruit are associated with reduced or neutral risk of diabetes type 2, consumption of juices has been shown to increase the risk. (7)Muraki I, Imamura F, Manson JE, Hu FB, Willett WC, van Dam RM, Sun Q. Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies. BMJ 2013; 347:f5001. Available here. (8)Odegaard AO, Koh WP, Arakawa K, Yu MC, Pereira MA. Soft drink and juice consumption and risk of physician-diagnosed incident type 2 diabetes: the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2010 Mar 15;171(6):701-8. Available here.

Packed fruit juices are not as fresh or as natural as claimed

  • Processed, long shelf-life fruit juices lack some nutrients and contain various additives.
  • “Industrial” fruit juices available in supermarkets, especially the long-life variety, are often mixed with the so called “flavor packs” to compensate for the lost flavor during processing (pasteurization) and storing in super-tanks for long periods (often as long as one year). Although it is unethical, fruit juice companies continue to mislead consumers by either false claims that these products are free of additives or by not disclosing these additives on the labels altogether. These two videos explain in more detail this process.

Video1: “100% Orange Juice Is CHEMICALLY FLAVORED and has NO LIFE ENERGY!!!”
Video2: “How “premium” orange juice is really made (CBC Marketplace)”

Conclusion

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Although fruit juices and SSB contain a similar amount of carbohydrates, juices contain minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals, while SSB have no nutritional value. Of the two, fruit juices would be a more nutritious option for an individual with a micronutrient poor diet.

Please note, however, that the effects of sugars from fruit juices on the increase of insulin resistance and waist circumference outweigh the minor benefit that is derived from these micronutrients.
The bottom line is that the overall negative effect of fruit juices is virtually the same as of SSB.

References   [ + ]

1. Gill J, Sattar N. Fruit juice: just another sugary drink? Diabetes and Endocrinology. Volume 2, No. 6, p444–446, June 2014. Available here.
2. THE COCA-COLA COMPANY. How much sugar is in Coca‑Cola? Available here.
3. Agricultural Research Service. United States Department of Agriculture Nutritional information for apple juice. Available here.
4. Agricultural Research Service. United States Department of Agriculture Nutritional information for sprite. Available here.
5. Agricultural Research Service. United States Department of Agriculture Nutritional information for orange juice. Available here.
6. Agricultural Research Service. United States Department of Agriculture Nutritional information for mixed tomato and vegetable juice. Available here.
7. Muraki I, Imamura F, Manson JE, Hu FB, Willett WC, van Dam RM, Sun Q. Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies. BMJ 2013; 347:f5001. Available here.
8. Odegaard AO, Koh WP, Arakawa K, Yu MC, Pereira MA. Soft drink and juice consumption and risk of physician-diagnosed incident type 2 diabetes: the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2010 Mar 15;171(6):701-8. Available here.