You may think that fruit juice is a healthy alternative to other drinks? Wrong, I am afraid! You probably think the “fruit” label is going to provide you with at least some of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that real fruit contains. Again, this is false but it is widely believed. We know that the average American drinks about 30 litres of fruit juice every year. You probably suspected that fruit juice is a poor substitute and you were right. Here are 5 harmful effects of fruit juice you were probably not aware of.
1. Fruit juice may have some nasty chemicals in it
It has to be stored and the only way to do that is to use enormous tanks which strip the oxygen out. Because it does not taste anything like the real thing, they developed flavor packs which were perfected in the 1960s, to add the taste and flavors back in.
The problem is that these flavor packs are never listed on the ingredient labels because they supposedly just contain orange essence or oil. The reality is dangerously different. They contain high amounts of a chemical called ethyl butyrate which mimics the fragrance of freshly squeezed orange juice. Nothing natural about these chemicals, so eat an orange or an apple instead!
2. Fruit juice has a very limited number of nutrients
Nothing like freshly-squeezed orange juice! Pure, healthy juice full of vitamin C and lots of other goodies. Wrong again! Sweet juices, even freshly squeezed ones, are mostly fructose and have the same unhealthy effects on your body as a soft drink. (However, the fruit juice does at least contain a small amount of the nutrients such as Vitamin C, B1, folic acid, and potassium that you get in the whole fruit). It does not have the fiber content so that is why it is always better to go for the real thing.
3. Fruit juice has loads of sugar
You know the problem with fruit juice? Look at these shocking statistics. A 12 oz can of Coca Cola contains 140 calories and 40 grams of sugar. No surprises there. But look at the same quantity of apple juice. It has even more calories (165) and 39 grams of sugar! Not great when you are watching your weight.
“Fruit juice is absorbed very fast, so by the time it gets to your stomach your body doesn’t know whether it’s Coca-Cola or orange juice, frankly. I have to say it is a relatively easy thing to give up. Swap it and have a piece of real fruit.” – Susan Jebb, head of the diet and obesity research group at the Medical Research Council’s Human Nutrition Research unit at Cambridge University.
4. Fruit juice may be connected with risk of diabetes
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health have been concentrating their studies on how eating apples, pears, grapes and blueberries can actually lower the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Blueberries get the prize in that people who ate three servings a week had a 26% less chance of getting diabetes.
Bad news for fruit juice! The same researchers found that people who drank fruit juice had an 8% increased risk of getting the disease. They asked participants to drink half a liter of undiluted grape juice daily for a three month period. Lots of antioxidants in the juice but it actually increased their resistance to insulin.
“Our data further endorse current recommendations on increasing whole fruits, but not fruit juice, as a measure for diabetes prevention.” – Isao Muraki, researcher at the Department of Nutrition at HSPH.
5. Fruit juice may cause gout in women
Guess what may cause gout, a painful form of arthritis, to flare up in women? Fruit juice and soda drinks. The American Medical Association has published a study which incriminates fruit juice because of its high fructose content. Women who took a few servings of fruit juice or sodas a day were twice as much at risk of suffering from gout than those women who had less than one serving a month.
As we have seen, fruit juice is no longer the safer and healthier alternative to fruit because of the processing and its high sugar content. The best motto to follow is eat fruit but don’t drink it!
Featured photo credit: Juicing/ Rob Bertholf via flickr.com