Fruit juices are very popular drinks amongst children and adults. They are often advertised as part of 5 a day campaign (which is the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables servings per day), but the scientific data say that there is no difference from a can of coke and freshly squeezed orange juice .
Let's reveal the truth about fruit juices. Bear in mind, whenever we mention juice in this article, we mean juice made from fruits, not vegetables.
Five a day misconception
The 5 a day is a national campaigns, which run in the United Stanes, United Kingdom, Germany, France and other countries encourage the higher daily consumption of fruits and vegetables.
The action itself is great, however marking a fruit juice as a 1 out of 5 a day is a misconception.
Fruit and vegetables are real food”, but fruit juices is just another soft drink which after pasteurization, contains depleted vitamin content and should be treated only as a sugar mixture.
You might think, that if you prepare your fruit juice by yourself, then you will be healthier than when purchased in store, however this is far from the truth, sugar content in the comercially bottled 100% fruit juice with no sugar added” label contains accurate amount of sugar as in freshly extracted juice .
The only difference you will find is the vitamins content which in your unpasteruized version will be higher, however, the sugar content and liquid form of it outweights most of the benefits from both.
Fruit juice manufacturing
The modern manufacturing process often requires juice concentration (removing the water content by heating the juice) and also deodorization (removing the flavour) – those things significantly decrease the transport costs as the concentrates have lower volume.
Then ultimately, before bottling, water and flavour is added back, but loss of vitamin and phytonutrients is irreversable.
The actual pieces of flesh (residue) is the the most valuable source of antioxidants (polifenols and flavonoids). Bear this is mind next time you have a fruit juice.
Whole fruit vs fruit juice
You might think that orange juice should be equal in nutritional content as a whole orange, but is this true? Unfortunatelly not. Whole, raw fruits, in most of the cases contain greater nutritional value and higher vitamin and mineral content than juice extracted from them.
Liquid calories do not trigger the same physiological response as do solid calories, and whole fruit have fewer calories from sugar than 100% fruit juice.
Another difference between fruit juice and a whole fruit is the dietary fiber content (higher in fruits than juices).
It posses various health benefits such as: in helping to control blood sugar levels, weight maintenance and weight loss, lower cholesterol, help to remove heavy metals from the body, decrease the inflammation and maintain the digestive health .
Soft drinks = fruit juices
Biochemically speaking, both of those drinks, reach the stomach and end up in the small intestine which then get absorbed in the bloodstream.
The pancreas then detects high glycaemic load and will realease the insulin which will cause a blood glucose level drop (signal of a hunger).
Soft drinks normally contain sucrose which is a combination of glucose and fructose (whic according to the newest studies leads to many health side effects, even if the glycaemic index for fructose is low – 19]).
Fruit juices will normally contain fructose as it’s main simple carbohydrate presented in fruits.
The health consequences of drinking those sugar mixtures are distrubing, so by default fruit juices should be treated the same as sweets and soft drinks, and especially in children diets' should be excluded.
There is a myth that calories from different sources are equal. Proteins for example provides 4kcal/g, so chicken breasts should theoretically give you the same satiety effect as fruit juice (sugar 4 kcal/g), however, even though both contain dietary fibre and effect satiety and metabolic effect on the body they will be completely different .
The solid form of the food increases digestion time. The study on ingestion of water labeled with D2O in humans has shown that water starts to appear in plasma and blood cells after 5 min, with half-life absorbtion ~11-13 min and complete absorbtion within 75-120 min .
On the other hand according to Versantvoort et al stomach empties solids completely over approximately 3 to 4h.
The exact timing for fruit juice are not known, but we can assume that are similar to those from water absorbtion studies than the solid meals.
This is why after drinking juice, the instant calories appeared in the bloodstream don't give satiety and actually increase the chance of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Fruit juices and type 2 diabetes
According to the scientific studies the higher sugar-sweetened fruit juice was associated with 14% greater risk of type 2 diabetes .
Another systematic review has confirmed that habitual consumption of sweetened beverages and fruit juices were associated with greater incidence of type 2 diabetes, independent of adiposity .
Those findings suggest that fruit juices should not be treated as a healthy alternative to traditional soft drinks such as coca-cola, pepsi etc.
Fruit juices and child obesity
Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in USA. By age four, 18.4% of all children are obese .
According to the scientific evidence excessive fruit juice intake was associated with increased risk of obesity.
Besides that, the newer evidence suggest that sucrose consumption without fiber (as in soft drinks and sweetened fruit juices) is associated with metabolic syndrome, liver injury and obesity .
Note about grapefruit juice
Grapefruit juice is not just another fruit juice. Once you take any medications you might exclude it from your diet (or keep a long break between consuming grapefruit products with any medications) as it is associated with food-drug interactions (especially immunosuppressants, calcium channel blockers, contraceptives, antibiotics and antihistamines).
The reason being, furanocoumarins presented in grapefruit inhibit intestinal cytochrome P450 3 A4 which changes bioavailability of many drugs (some of the drugsactions will be escalated and some may not work properlys).
If you have any long-term health issues and take some medications, before drinking grapefruit juice/eating grapefruit consult a pharmacist.
To juice or not to juice
Fruit juice is a very popular non-alcoholic beverage in children and adults diets. There is strong evidences suggesting that drinking fruit juices may bring you more harm than good (increases the chance of diabetes and obesity).
If you have to choose some fruit juice, than make sure you buy the 100% juice, without added sugar and with pieces of flesh, not the clarified one.
If you like to drink a grapefruit juice and take any drugs, exclude it from your diet (for the duration of pharmacotheraphy) or contact your pharmacist to see if it safe to drink.
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- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietary_fiber as seen on 28/06/2016
- Wang B., Liu K., Mi M., Wang J., Effect of fruit juice on glucose control and insulin sensitivity in adults: a meta-analysis of 12 randomized controlled trials. PloS One. 2014 Apr 17; 9(4)
- O'Connor L., Ye Z., Mursu J., Hayashino Y., Bhupathiraju S.N., Consumption of sugar sweetened beverages, artifically sweetened beverages, and fruit juice and incidence of type 2 diabetes: systematic review, meta-analysis, and estimation of population attributable fraction. BMJ 2015, 31
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