Is fruit juice good for you?
Today in Australia, there’s a big outcry on the news, as fruit juices have officially lost their 5 star health rating.
Here in Australia, we have a “health star” rating on packaged foods. The more stars a food has, the more healthy it’s deemed to be.
Fruit juice has always enjoyed 5 star status as a health food, but today it’s been dubbed as bad for you as soft drink under the new rating system.
How can a glass of fruit juice be as bad for you as a can of Coke?
Let’s dive into fruit juice’s fall from grace, and why that daily glass of OJ may be harming – rather than helping – your weight loss goals and your health in general.
Spilling the tea ... or, you know ... the juice
Farmers across the country are outraged today as fruit juice, which has always enjoyed a 5/5 health star rating, has today been knocked back to less health stars than a can of Diet Coke.
And this is because fruit juice is ... well ... just not that great for you nutritionally.
I mean, yeah, it’s got some nutritional value, especially if your constitution is strong enough to handle a bit of pulp in your drink.
But most commercially prepared juices are just straight up sugar, with a bit of added vitamin C.
In the juicing process, all the fibre, satiating bulk and much of the nutrients get removed and only the sweet juiciness remains.
The polyphenols, antioxidants, and other nutrients are often contained in the pith (the fleshy bit between the skin and the “meat”(???)) of the fruit, which gets removed in the juicing process.
Furthermore, what antioxidants and enzymes remain only have a very short lifespan, which often doesn’t survive the industrial production process in creating commercial juice ... sooooo ... yeah, basically you’re just left with fruit-flavoured sugar water.
In the grand scheme of things, I believe it’s a good thing that fruit juice is getting exposed for the health food lie that it is. And I’ll explain why.
So, it’s a bit of sugar, big deal
Well yeah, except that sugar is rotting teeth, increasing the risk of diabetes, and contributing to obesity, because it gets packed liberally in lunch boxes and drunk daily by well meaning people who think they’re doing something good for their health.
I’m partial to a tall glass of pineapple juice personally, but I don’t drink it as a health food. It's an occasional sweet snack treat, usually in some form of mocktail.
As I talked about in my post on nutrition labels, I’m all for food freedom and eating what you damn well want. I’m not demonizing juice at all – I love juice.
But if people want to make healthy choices, they shouldn’t be misled.
This decision gives people more power to make educated choices about what they’re consuming, and to feel confident that when they buy something with a 5 star health rating, it’s going to be something incredibly nutritious and good for them.
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Just how unhealthy is fruit juice, really?
Okay, let’s take a beautiful, sweet, ripe apple.
One apple is 52 calories – that’s nothing, about 2.6% of the average adult’s daily recommended calorie intake.
There are 14 g of carbohydrate in one apple, of which 2.4 g is fibre, and the other 10 g are sugar.
However, also contained in that apple are nutrients like potassium, vitamin K, vitamin C, and magnesium.
Okay, so we’re down with apples now? Let’s look at a glass of apple juice.
First of all, it takes up to four apples to make a single glass of apple juice – that’s about four times the calories, carbs, and sugar.
Let’s take a 250 ml glass of commercial 100% apple juice (with no added sugar) for example. It has 129 calories, 31.5 g of carbs (about the same amount as two slices of bread) – of which ALL 31.5 g is sugar, and zero fibre.
A can of Coca Cola comes in at 108 calories per 250 ml, and 26.5 g of carbs and sugar.
Whilst it may seem like apple juice is the clear winner, because it has fruit in it, nutritionally they’re about the same. In fact, if we're talking straight calories and sugar, volume for volume, Coke is even marginally better.
(And if you don't get 100% fruit juice, you're signing up for the same salt, flavoring, colours, and corn syrup as are found in Coke anyway.)
Now I get that if you get 100% cloudy apple juice, it may have some negligible added fibre, and vitamin C, but it comes at the expense of a LOT of added sugars.
The verdict? You’d get far more benefit and satisfaction by eating a small apple with a side of water.
See, if you were to eat a whole apple, all that fibre and bulk from the fruit would slow down digestion and absorption of the nutrients, making it less likely to cause a rapid blood sugar spike.
But when you just send a straight glass of apple juice, that concentrated sugar hits your blood stream fast, causing a rapid blood sugar spike.
The short term effects of rapid blood sugar spikes make you tired and hungry, which is one thing, but big blood sugar peaks and troughs over time increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Also? The concentrated sugar and acid in fruit juice does a number on your teeth – definitely as bad for you as soft drink in that respect.
And finally – when you eat an apple, guess what happens? You fill your belly with bulk , which satisfies you and helps you feel full.
When you drink a glass of apple juice, guess what? You’re still hungry.
Personally, I’d rather save those calories and sugar for ordering a hot fudge sundae on date night like a carefree little minx.
All this to say – if you really enjoy a glass of OJ, have at it! Just don’t drink it because you think you have to for the health benefits, or because it seems like a “healthier” choice than soft drink.
Rule of thumb that will never steer you wrong? The healthiest choice is usually the whole food as close to its natural form as possible.
You’re WAY better off, health wise, to eat one whole piece of fruit and quench your thirst with water than drinking fruit juice (OR soft drink, for that matter).
What do you guys think? Do you think fruit juice deserved to lose its 5 star health rating? Let’s talk about it in the comments.
Okay, well now I’m going to clamber down off my soapbox. Let’s get on with the Captain’s Log for yesterday.
If you’ve just joined us, I’m on a 90 day fitness journey and I’m logging every day of progress, including my meals and workouts, as I journey back to my health.
I’m a certified personal trainer who struggled with yo yo diets and extreme workouts until one day, I just couldn’t take it anymore and gave up on my weight altogether ... that is, until a recent health scare that landed me in the hospital (you can read more about my story here).
Now I’m on a mission to finally take charge of my health and fitness, lose weight in a healthy, self loving way and get into the best shape of my life. If you’re on a similar journey, I’d love to stay in touch.
Keep reading to read yesterday’s log, scroll to the bottom to read the previous days, and if you’d like to stay updated on the journey and receive the FREE guide that’s helped me get amazing results so far, click the pic below to be taken to the download page.
All that said, let’s dive into yesterday.
Today after my workout I went for a good old fashion bowl of Oat Flakes and All Bran, about ¾ cup, with ½ a cup of skim milk.
I had coffee on the side, and just because it was Friday, I added a teensy splash of skim milk. Mostly, though it’s crème from the espresso. I’m getting good with my little espresso machine now!
Lunch of course, was a turkey and salad sandwich.
I feel like I’m in a bit of a “sandwich rut” right now and I’m ready to try something new! Do you guys have any healthy lunch suggestions that are quick and satisfying? Let me know in the comments!
I was REALLY craving my green smoothie today, and it was so satisfying. I crammed a ridiculous amount of spinach in it, and an overripe banana and it actually tasted pretty good.
I’m normally not the biggest fan of the taste of green smoothies, but today’s was lovely. I think using a really ripe banana is the secret (and boy do I prefer the taste of spinach to kale).
What I love about smoothies as opposed to juices is that you get to keep all of the fibre, bulk and pulp of the fruit and veg in your drink, and you drink it right away, so you get maximum nutrition and satiety value from the calories you consume.
Well, folks, it was Pizza Friday! In the spirit of making things healthier (without doing anything lame like cauliflower pizza), I’ve been making my pizzas at home the past few Friday nights.
I use a giant wholemeal base, only ½ a cup of mozzarella and a light soft cheese, and just jam pack it with mean toppings.
How good does it look?
Tonight I had a bit of a meat free Friday and loaded on the toppings – tomato, pineapple, onion, capsicum, spinach, and fresh basil and parsley from my garden. Then I added mozzarella and 25 g of crumbled feta.
I had about half a whole pizza, and saved the rest for tomorrow night. So satisfying and so much more nutritious than Domino’s (I do love Domino’s though – may just treat myself next week).
For dessert tonight, I grabbed another Jalna yoghurt (they were out of passionfruit this time – boo). I’ll award 100 points to your house if you can guess what movie I’m watching in the background.
Well, boys and girls, guess who got up early enough for a workout in the morning? Meeee!!!!!!!
I did this corker by Kathy Smith and it honestly kicked my butt. My arms are on fire today!
Because I got up early in the morning to workout, I had enough time in the afternoon to squeeze in a quick weights session – I tried this Body Pump-esque workout and man, are my glutes burning today. So. Many. Squats.
If you're missing your Body Pump classes at the gym, this is the workout for you!
Well, team, that’s all we have time for today. Let’s huddle in quick for a motivation message.
As you reach for the dreams of your future, just remember – the glory of dreams coming true lies in the journey it took to get there.
Don’t forget to stop a moment along the way, and recognise your progress.
Celebrate every day that you took a step forward, conquered a demon, or made a mistake.
It’s all part of the journey and the journey is the most beautiful part of all.
Think about your favourite book: you might read it to find out the ending, but what makes it beautiful is the story about how the character got there.
Savour your story. Soak it up like a good book and celebrate yourself for the hero that you are.
Until tomorrow, keep shining bright.
- Xo, Rhi