There is a lot of information available about the harmful effects that soda has had on our nation's health, and it is widely known that soft drinks are not healthy; but what about 100% juice drinks? They sound healthy, since they are made entirely from fruit, and some of the labels actually claim that they contain a number of servings of fruits or vegetables.
One danger about drinking a lot of 100% juice drinks is the high sugar content. All fruits naturally contain sugar (fructose) but at reasonable levels. During commercial processing, the pulp and flesh of the fruit is removed and only the sugary water remains.
This sugary water becomes concentrated and as a result, it also becomes higher in calories. Look at the chart to see a few comparisons between 100% juice and the original fruit. As you can see, the 100% juice drinks contain quite a bit more sugar (and therefore, calories) than in the original fruit.
The worst offender is grape juice -- an 8-ounce glass contains a whopping 170 calories and 40 grams of sugar! Pomegranate juice is a close second -- the juice is more than double the calories of a cup of pomegranate seeds and has over triple the sugar. An 8-ounce serving of cola, surprisingly, has fewer calories and less sugar than these fruit juices.
Sodas are not healthier than juice by any means but juice is loaded with sugar. Whether it's natural or not, choosing drinks loaded with sugar can be harmful to your health. Choose water instead.
In addition, choosing to drink 100% juice drinks rather than eating natural fruit is much less healthy. Many essential nutrients are lost from the fruit when it is processed. Juice companies do a fairly good job making their products sound healthy by adding a few vitamins back in through fortification, but other nutrients are still missing.
The pulp of oranges, apples, pineapples and other fruits contain soluble fiber and during processing this fiber is lost. Soluble fiber is an important nutrient and it has good implications for heart health. It can help lower cholesterol by binding to bile acids in the intestine and increasing cholesterol excretion from your body. The fleshy parts of the fruit also contain the fruit's phytochemicals.
Phytochemicals are nutrients whose mechanisms are not fully understood but are being extensively studied at this point in time. Eating fruits and vegetables is known to have strong protective health benefits, such as protection against cancer, heart disease and stroke, and this is likely due to the phytochemicals.
Seeds from berries and the skins of fruits such as apples and pears contain insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is beneficial for gut health and can protect against colorectal cancer. Insoluble fiber flushes out the colon and removes harmful bacteria and other carcinogens from the gut. Both insoluble and soluble fiber can help increase fullness during meals and could help with weight loss and obesity prevention.
These are just a few reasons to choose fruit over juice. Water is always the best drink. Our bodies require a lot of it to maintain optimum health. The daily requirement is 13 cups of water per day for men and 9 cups of water per day for women , according to MayoClinic.com. If water is too plain for your taste, you can enhance it by adding some slices of fruit for flavor.
In conclusion: Try to set down those drinks with flashy labels and to pick up some whole fruits and veggies in their natural, unprocessed forms.
For information on Nutrition Counseling and Diabetes Management at San Ramon Regional Medical Center, call 275-6018 or visit www.OurSanRamonHospital.com.
Chart: Fruit vs. juice
Fruit (1 cup serving) 100% juice (1 cup/8 oz.)
Orange 81 calories 110 calories
12g sugar 22g sugar
Apple 57 calories 110 calories
11.3g sugar 26g sugar
Pineapple 83 calories 120 calories
16g sugar 28g sugar
Grapefruit 74 calories 136 calories
16.1g sugar 30g sugar
Pomegranate 72 calories 158 calories
12g sugar 37g sugar
Grape 104 calories 170 calories
23g sugar 40g sugar
Cola 96 calories