Fresh fruit juice or a fruit smoothie – what could be better for you, right?
Turns out, the answer to that question is surprising. As healthy as those options sound, drinking fruit juice or fruit smoothies may be more harmful than you ever imagined.
Despite all the marketing hoopla surrounding juices – that you’ll lose weight, you’ll get easier access to vitamins, enjoy more energy – drinking a glass of juice is nowhere near as good for you as eating a full serving of fruit. Most juice contains a tremendous load of calories and sugar. And long-term studies show that regular juice drinkers have a higher risk of gaining weight and developing diabetes. Even moderate juice consumption can be harmful. In one study, people who drank two glasses of juice per week increased their risks of diabetes by nearly 30%.
To put that in perspective, people drinking an equivalent amount of weekly soda increased their risk by 42%. The relative risks are pretty similar. The lack of fiber in juice is another major shortcoming. One of the leading health goals associated with eating more produce is increasing the amount of fiber in your diet. When you swap out a whole fruit for fruit juice, you aren’t getting an equivalent serving of fruits and vegetables due to the fiber loss.
Fiber helps control how your body absorbs sugar and it also helps regulate your appetite. When scientists compared people who ate apple slices before lunch with people who drank a serving of apple juice, those eating the whole fruit ate an average of 15% fewer calories during their meal before they felt full than those participants who drank the juice.
When you juice a fruit, you lose vitamins and minerals in the process… about 40%. So that glass of juice may still deliver some vitamin C or beta carotene, but not nearly as much as you’d get if you ate an apple, orange, or bunch of grapes instead. And, if you’re not personally juicing your fruit yourself, chances are high you’re drinking filtered fruit juice which is even lower in vitamin and fiber content, but just as high in sugars and calories.
Another dirty secret about fresh-squeezed juice is how it is stored. Not-from-concentrate orange juice, for example, is stored in an oxygen-free environment for up to a year before hitting your grocery store shelves. This destroys the taste and aroma of the juice, so flavor and fragrance packs are added to make it taste fresh again.