Who doesn’t love fruits? They are like candies from Nature and are great for health. But many fruits take effort to cut/peel and they often start perishing within 3-4 days. As modern age progressed, this was almost a no-brainer to produce something from fruits which can tackle these two situations. The solution invented was packaged fruit juices which could be drank easily and came with a shelf life of months. Originating as a solution for curbing vitamin C deficiency in form of packaged orange juice, today, packaged industry for orange juices itself is a multi-billion dollar industry.
Quickly spreading within the last 2 decades with global brands and a plethora of flavors, the common perception of packaged fruit juices in India too stayed that of a healthy choice. And as long as they are replacing soda drinks (and make Vodka palatable), it is fine. But replacing whole fruits and other good stuff in your diet with fruit juices has several major problems because of 2 differences vis-à-vis whole fruits:
- As compared to fruits, they contain zero fiber (pulpier versions also have lesser fiber compared to whole fruits)
- Most contain added sugars (fruits lose their original taste when stored in oxygen deficient environment)
So why is this a problem for you?
Liquid calories ≠ Solid calories
Liquid calories consumed are interpreted very differently by the body than solid food. You feel like you ate more when you chew solid food. Experiment with eating a couple of maize sticks (bhuttas) with hard kernels and see for yourself. Also the fiber content slows the digestion down and makes you feel fuller longer. Liquid calories are ingested and digested fast. This is also the reason why commercial mass gainers are taken in liquid form so that skinny dudes can chug down insane amount of calories and still eat more.
Higher Risk of Obesity and Associated Diseases
Any additional sugar containing beverage increases the risk of obesity and associated diseases like cardiovascular conditions and Diabetes. An extremely detailed cohort study which involved more than 1,00,000 Americans observed over 2 decades concluded consuming fruit juices resulted in higher Type II Diabetes risk while this was not the case for eating fruits. Similar results were studied for Asian population in this cohort study.
Also, companies often market juices as zero glucose while they add sweetness in form of corn syrup, dextrose, cane sugar and even honey. All these ingredients are researched to have a negative metabolic effect when consumed in sweetened beverages in studies like this. There are also research studies like this that indicated that these alternatives to glucose might be even worse than normal sugar for already overweight individuals. A primer on how to read nutrition labels is written here.
Worse for Kids
Kids are hard to convince to eat something. And with such a hyper palatable taste, children often get hooked to their favorite fruit juice. A 5 year long community wide intervention program in Australia revealed that kids who were intervened for consuming less fruit juices resulted in having lower weight and prevalence of obesity. 100% removal of fruit juices is being recommended by prestigious medical universities for public health programs in US for preschool children.
Lesser Nutrients than Fruits
Fruit juices generally contain neither pulp nor the skin of the fruit which are quite nutrient dense (think of apple’s skin, orange’s white threads etc). US Dietary Guidelines specifically prefers fruit servings over fruit juices due to higher beneficial antioxidants and fiber with approximately 35% less sugar and warns consumers in this way: “Unless the package also states it is “100% juice,” it is not 100% juice. Sweetened juice products with minimal juice content, such as juice drinks, are considered sugar-sweetened beverages rather than fruit juice.”
To sum it up, packaged fruit juices are not as healthy as whole fruits and may cause many health issues. If you have no other options, you might as well go for fresh juice made without adding sugar or any other weird sounding sweetening agent.
If you have any nutrition query, give us a call at +91 76666 20988 and we’d love to clear your doubts.
In Lucem Scientiam