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“Healthy fruit juice” myth
The idea that a fruit juice is healthy was born from misinterpreting the dietary guidelines that recommend 2 whole fruit per day. Fruit juice companies saw the opportunity to market the benefits of their products, as if they were at least as healthy as the whole fruit.
Their logic was that:
- if a whole fruit is healthy, than fruit juice must be even healthier since it contains concentrated nutrients,
- if the dietary guidelines recommend two fruit per day, than a juice made of 5 fruit must be healthier.
It is true that the fruit juices are generally a good source of micronutrients and phytochemicals. However, 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.
Please note that SSB have no nutritional value, and of the two, fruit juices would be a more nutritious option for an individual with a micronutrient poor diet.
There are several reasons why fruit juices are unhealthy, such as (1):
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.
|Amount||Coca-cola (1)||Apple juice (2)||Sprite (3)||Orange juice (4)||Mixed tomato and vegetable juice (5)|
|Percent of total beverage||11%||9%||9%||8%||3%|
|Amount of sugar in 355ml (12oz) of beverage||38g |
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.
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.
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.
NUTRITION FACTS VS NUTRITION MYTHS
You will find a summary of the most common nutrition myths and evidence-based nutrition facts here.