It’s summertime, it’s hot and you want to reach for that cold refreshing soda at the bottom of the ice chest. You suddenly change your mind and gulp down the chilled fruit juice because you think it’s healthier for you and after all, it is swim suit season, right?
Is fruit juice really that much better than soda?
And why didn’t you reach for the water instead of either one of those choices, that would have been the healthiest choice of all.
Our modern taste buds have adapted to the foods we eat on a daily basis, most of which contain added sugars to please the taste sensors in our mouth. Our minds enjoy the taste of sweetness, which becomes an addiction we must satisfy everyday. After your body is used to foods with added sugars (fast food, packaged food) and beverages like juice/soda/sweet tea, we are no longer satisfied by plain water. This is when we reach for the soda and unknowingly consume an extra 45+ grams of sugar at every sitting.
Typically, we reach for the fruit juice when we want to make a healthier choice because the thought of drinking artificial sugars is well, not healthy. This is somewhat correct because the sugars in most sodas and soft drinks come from ‘high fructose corn syrup’, which is metabolized differently in our bodies than natural sugars. However, this doesn’t exempt fruit juices from the sugar conundrum. Most of the sugars from fruit juices come from fructose and the typical concentration of fructose in juice is about 45.5 grams per liter. To put this into perspective, soda has about 50 grams per liter. So you’re definitely not saying NO to sugar when you reach for the juice
Why is Sugar the Big Problem?
The form of sugar in fruit and fruit juice is otherwise known as fructose. When we consume an entire apple in one sitting, we are consuming not only the natural sugars but fiber as well. This combination creates a slower digestion movement throughout the body, causing you to remain full after the snack.
When we consume only fruit juice, the fiber is left out and only the fructose remains. Fruit juice is highly concentrated in fructose (think how many apples it takes to make one beverage) and therefore gets metabolized faster and does not fill us up. This ultimately leaves us wanting more, drinking more and intaking more sugar. Oh the vicious cycle of sugar and health.
Sugary drinks can rack up the calories because they don’t fill us up, it only creates an addiction
The Liver is the only organ that can break down fructose. When loads of fructose is dumped into the system, the liver gets ‘overloaded’ and tries to metabolize it as fast as possible. Many of the sugars get converted into fat storage, which can lead to insulin resistance and ultimately diabetes. Some researchers claim there is a direct link between children’s overconsumption of juice and obesity/ diabetes rates.
Sugary drinks can lead to insulin resistance and ultimately, Diabetes
Four Tips for Better Juices
Like I said, it’s summertime and it’s hot. You crave the freshly squeezed fruit juice that pops with color. When you don’t have time to juice your own everyday- the next best thing is the grocery store, right? Here are my top four tips to choosing a better juice, one that won’t leave you questioning if it’s healthier than soda.
- Look at the ingredients on the label. So many times, we see the 100% fruit juice on the label and think that’s all there is. I challenge you to take a look at the nutrition label and see if that is truly the case
- Fresh, nutritious fruit juices should not contain any other ingredients like added colors or added flavors.
- Look at the sugar content on the label. There will always be a sugar count in grams on the back of every item purchased from the grocery store.
- Try to keep the sugar content below 20 grams per serving. 20 grams is still pretty high, but lower than most all sodas and processed juices.
- Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup like the plague. HFCS is an artificial sugar, which is processed differently in our bodies contributing to fat, diabetes, insulin resistance and other metabolic problems.
- The fresher, the better. Look for bottles that are freshly squeezed, or juiced. Most often, food companies will juice the fruit several weeks/months prior to packaging. This disintegrates the nutritional value of the juice, and flavor. Look instead for a brand that is fresher, most of these ‘fresh juices’ will expire sooner since they do not contain preservatives.
The Salt. Fruit juice vs. soda? Both beverages pack in sugar, health risks by Eliza Barclay. http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/06/09/319230765/fruit-juice-vs-soda-both-beverages-pack-in-sugar-and-health-risk
Authority Nutrition. Fruit juice is just as unhealthy as a sugary drink by Kris Gunnars. https://authoritynutrition.com/fruit-juice-is-just-as-bad-as-soda/
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