Is juice healthy?
Juice has been a staple household item for years, however when the truth about sugar revealed itself, juice dropped in popularity. With the health-focused lifestyle that followed, people wanted to find a way to incorporate juice back into their diets without the added sugar.
Enter, freshly squeezed, cold-pressed or home blended juices. Now, these are a staple, usually for busy professionals who (think) they don’t have the time to sit down for a meal. So fruit juice is their way to save time without missing out on nutrients.
Fruit juice has also been linked to claims that it can help you lose weight and ‘detox’ your system. These buzzwords have had the industry highly lucrative. In 2016, the global fruit and vegetable juice market was valued at $154 billion dollars. But are juices really as healthy as we think?
Fructose is a naturally occurring sugar found in all fruits and fruit juices and it doesn’t seem to have harmful effects unless it is contributing to excess calories. This is because the whole fruit is intact and the sugar is contained within the fruit’s cells – most nutrients of fruit are in the skin.
This is not the case with fruit juice. Most of the fibre has been removed with the skin. This sugar you are still consuming now doesn’t fall in the same category as if you were eating the whole fruit. It now falls under the ‘free sugar category – the same category that honey and added sugar in foods falls under.
Emma Elvin, senior clinical advisor at the charity Diabetes UK explains that ‘The problem is that, with the fibre removed, fruit juice’s fructose is absorbed more quickly. Sudden spikes in blood sugar cause the pancreas to release insulin to bring it back down to a stable level. Over time, this mechanism can wear out, increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes’.
Aside from the link to type 2 diabetes, many studies agree that fruit juice is harmful if it contributes to an excess in calories. Juices are also not the ideal way to reach your ‘5 a day’ of fruits – while it is better than no fruit, the 5-a-day rule is not just about vitamins, it is about the fibre and energy the whole fruit provides.
People have a tendency to over-consume liquid. Studies show, when you drink your calories instead of eating them, your brain doesn’t get the same “I’m full” signal that it does from solid food, even though you wind up consuming far more calories in the process. An orange may contain 45 calories, a 200ml glass of orange juice contains 110 calories, and a large kale, banana and orange juice blend at a leading juice chain contains 380 calories.