Is drinking fruit juice unhealthy?

Drinking fruit juice is not very healthy. It’s essentially just a concentrated source of sugar containing very few nutrients. Even when fruit juice is created from 100 percent fruit concentrate, it still contains a high amount of calories and sugar. The reason why fruit juice is so unhealthy is due to the fact that juice is stripped of it’s fiber which is needed to help digest and metabolize it. Without the fiber, fruit juice elevates your blood sugar levels more rapidly and can cause additional hunger to balance out these levels.

Fruit Juice and Gaining Weight

When looking at sugars and calories, fruit juice is just as bad as soda. Although fruit juice contains some additional nutrients, at the core level it still is comprised of the same amounts of sugar. Most of the sugar found in these drinks is fructose. The liver is the only organ in our body that can metabolize fructose into meaningful amounts (1). When our bodies consume more sugar than we can handle our liver turns some of it into fat. Without fiber to slow down this process, our liver becomes overworked and our blood sugar levels increase. Consuming fruit juice will actually not make you full and will usually result in an increase in appetite (2).

An interesting study was done on the effects of a 2 year-old consuming 100 percent fruit juice. They found that 2 year-old children that consumed fruit juice had a significantly higher chance of becoming overweight in ages 2-4 (3). The children showed an increase of BMI due to the consumption of fruit drinks showing that fruit juice isn’t a healthy choice of drink.

Difference between Fruit and Fruit Juice

There is no question that eating whole fruit is nutritionally much healthier than juice. Not only does it contain less sugar and calories, it also contains fiber, additional antioxidants and nutrients, and will suppress your appetite.

Fruit Skins

When we drink fruit juice we are not digesting the healthy fruit skins. The skin of fruit is directly exposed to sunlight, allowing it to form various colors of pigment. These pigments include antioxidants called flavonoids and carotenoids. These antioxidants are responsible for protecting against cell damage work as natural anti-inflammatory agents. 

Fruit Pulp

When you remove fruit pulp from the fruit, you are taking away it’s fiber as well as additional nutrients. Fiber is what makes you feel full after eating fruit, which is what prevents you from eating a surplus of unnecessary sugar. This is the reason that we are able to drink a cup of juice so easily. A good example of this is with apple juice. On average it takes up to 3-4 apples to produce just one cup of apple juice. Normally it would be extremely difficult to eat more than one whole apple but when it is turned into juice it’s easy to consume several cups (6-8 apples).

Conclusion on Fruit Juice

Whenever possibly always opt to consume whole fruit over juice. When it comes to drinks, water should always be the preferred choice. If you are consuming soda, it would still be better to replace it with fruit juice as at least you are gaining a few ingredients. Be very careful if you buy fruit juice as most companies add a lot of unnecessary sugars. Some fruit juices have as low as 1% fruit juice and is instead substituted with high fructose syrup and sugars.

Just because something has the word fruit in it, don’t assume it is automatically healthy. Any food that is processed or has additional ingredients added to it is generally unhealthy and should be avoided. If you are trying to lose weight and live a healthier life we recommend limiting your fruit juice intake to as little as possible.


Sources:

1) http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/86/4/895.full

2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19248858

3) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26110996

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