Fruit Juice: Good for You or Bad for You?

Products labeled 100% fruit juice are almost as healthy as real fruit. But drinking too much juice may result in cavities, obesity and poor nutrition.

There is no link between 100 percent fruit juice and obesity. Like fruits, 100% fruit juice is full of vitamins and antioxidants. Traditional fruit juices as well as some newer and more exotic juices have disease-fighting benefits.

However, not all juice is 100% fruit juice and some can cause obesity, cavities and poor nutrition. Moreover, even pure fruit juice has calories and many people drink a little too much juice.

High Vitamin C Content

Naturally high in vitamin C, many fruits and fruit juices offer an abundance of this nutrient. Per 100 g of product, the following fruits provide these amounts of vitamin C:

 

  • West Indian Cherry 1600 mg
  • Orange Juice 137 mg
  • Grapejuice 119 mg
  • Peaches, apples, tangerines, lemons, grapes 75mg

Antioxidant Benefits of Fruit and 100% Fruit Juice

Fruit Juice: Good for You or Bad for You?

Fruits are an abundant source of antioxidants, which prevent cancer-causing cell damage. A study (GuarnieriS et. al.) examined cell damage after subjects had consumed artificial vitamin C and after they consumed orange juice. The study showed that higher cell protection was achieved only by consuming the actual juice of the orange.

This demonstrates that antioxidant substances exist in fruits that are independent of vitamin C content. Other research suggests that the darker the color of the fruit, the more its antioxidant power. Pomegranates are said to be the greatest source of antioxidants from fruits.

Fruits for Weight Loss

Some fruit juices help people lose weight. Berry juices and apple, pineapple, grape and pomegranate are helpful in dieting.

Dietary Risks Associated with Fruit Juice

Only 100% fruit juice carries the benefits of fruit juice. The FDA only permits products to be labeled “fruit juice” if they are 100% juice with no sugar or other additives. If a product’s label says fruit drink, concentrate, beverage or cocktail, it can have anywhere form only ten to ninety percent fruit juice.

Risks Associated with Non-100% Fruit Juice

Risks Associated with Non-100% Fruit Juice

In most cases, beverages that are not 100% fruit juice are primarily flavored water and sweeteners. To cut costs, some use high fructose corn syrup, which is very strongly linked to obesity and diabetes. Fruit smoothies may have added sugar as well as yogurt, which, although healthy, is high in calories.

Perhaps the least understood fruit juice is concentrated juice, which must be labeled as such. The product has no added sugar, but the evaporation of the fruit during concentration leaves an abnormally high concentration of sugar in the fruit. When water is added back into the drink, the amount of sugar is much higher than fresh juice.

Missing out on Other Nutrients

According to a study conducted by Florito, L et.al., children who drink too much juice may ruin their appetite for other foods that they need. Excessive consumption could be a predictor of obesity.

This can also happen to adults who sip juice during the day. It is strongly recommended that juice be consumed with a meal, rather than having a container of juice in hand for all or part of the day.

Cavities

The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that children who drink fruit juice throughout the day are at high risk for cavities because of the natural sugars in fruit juice. The same is true of adults who drink fruit juice during other activities, as one would drink from a water bottle.

Weight Gain

Even pure fruit juice is high in calories, because fruit has natural sugars. Sugar in any form increases appetite. Without the bulk and fiber of real fruit, juice will increase your appetite for several hours.

The most important thing to be wary of when you drink juice is quantity. It is much easier to drink several glasses of apple juice than to eat several apples. There no fiber in juice that has no pulp; it is less filling and so we tend to drink a lot of juice.

A four-ounce glass of fruit juice is equivalent to one serving of fruit. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control Manual, “Rethink Your Drink:”

  • 12 ounces of apple juice has 192 calories; 20 ounces has 300 calories;
  • 12 ounces of orange juice has 168 calories; 20 ounces has 280 calories.

Only three large drinks can add up to almost 1,000 calories.

Fruit Juice: Good for You or Bad for You?

Fruit Juice: Good for You or Bad for You

There is confusion about the benefits of fruit juice, especially concentrates, because many people do not know that only products labeled 100% fruit juice are almost equivalent to fruit. However, drinking 100% fruit juice as you would drink from a water bottle can cause dental caries, weight gain and deficiency in other nutrients.

The Answer

If you are concerned about health and weight gain, the bottom line is that eating fruit in its natural state is usually better than drinking even 100% juice. If, for some reason, you cannot or will not eat fruit, drink a small glass of juice in one sitting.

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