Is Fruit Juice as Bad as Soft Drinks?
If you’ve done any reading about nutrition or, let’s face it, been on the Internet at all, you’ve probably heard that fruit juice is just as bad for you as soft drinks. Is this true – could sweet, natural fruit juices really be as bad for you as chemical-laden sodas?
The answer is yes – with some caveats. Fruit juices are full of natural sugars, which are healthy in small doses. The problem is that even naturally-occurring sugar becomes problematic when consumed in excessive amounts, something that’s extremely easy to do with fruit juice.
Fruit juices have even higher concentrations of sugar than whole fruits. Besides that, many brands add sugar or artificial sweeteners to their juice to enhance the flavour. Also, juice tends to lose most of the healthy fibre found in fruit during the liquefying process.
It’s very telling that most health professionals recommend not giving fruit juice to babies under 12 months, and to limit fruit juice to one cup per day for children under the age of seven. In fact, the NSW Centre for Public Health lists fruit juice right alongside soft drinks in the category of “sugary drinks.”
If you want to drink fruit juice, limit your consumption to a small glass a few times a week. Otherwise, it’s easy to consume too many calories. You also don’t want to find yourself substituting juice for whole fruits, which contain lots of fibre and phytochemicals not found in juice alone.
However, the question was, “Is fruit juice as bad for you as soft drinks?” The answer to this specific question is no. Fruit juice may contain just as much sugar as soda, but it also provides nutritious things soda doesn’t, such as protein and some fibre. Natural fruit juice also does not include the long list of questionable chemicals found in most soft drinks.
If you must drink juice, try pulping your own, using a mixture of whole fruits and veggies. You’ll get much more nutrition for the calories. However, the best choice by far is just to eat those fruits and veggies in their original state.