Fruit Juice: Sugar in liquid form

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How many people were raised starting the morning with a glass of orange juice with breakfast?? Apple, grape, orange, pineapple, cranberry…. there’s a type of juice to please everyone’s taste buds. The fallacy is that many believe drinking fruit juice equates to eating fruit. Therefore, fruit juice is perceived as healthy. The word “fruit” is associated with healthy. However, fruit juice contains as more if not more sugar than other beverages. Although fruit juice contains nutrients and antioxidants, these positive traits don’t negate the quantity of sugar.

We are victims to misleading labels on these drinks. Labels that read “100% pure” and “not from concentrate” make us think the juice was freshly squeezed and stored in the container for us to enjoy. The truth is that we are not drinking fruit from its original state. Fruit juice is actually stored in tanks that deplete oxygen for up to a year before being packaged. This process removes quite a bit of the rich fruit flavor, so manufacturers then add back that flavor in with you guessed it…. sugar.

This is not to say that fruit juice is entirely awful. Orange juice does contain vitamin C, vitamin B, potassium, folate, and antioxidants. However, when the calories from fruit off the tree are compared to those in the bottle, the beverage version contains much more added sugar which ultimately results in many more calories. Here’s a shocking example… apple juice versus Coca Cola. Take for instance a 12- ounce serving of these two drinks. The apple juice contains 165 calories, and 39 grams of sugar which equates to 9.8 teaspoons. The can of Coca Cola contains 140 calories and 40 grams of sugar (10 teaspoons). The truth lies in the sugar.

The liver becomes sugar overloaded very quickly when these drinks are ingested. It’s as if you quickly ate 5 oranges when you drank one cup of juice. Fructose is the type of sugar this juice contains, and the liver is responsible for metabolizing this substance. Too much sugar is too much work for the liver, and this excessive amount turns into fat. Liquid sugar has been associated with high levels of triglycerides, insulin resistance, increased belly fat, and elevated LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.

Many people don’t consider these liquid calories in their diet. They don’t eat less to compensate for these additional calories. Whole fruit is the better choice. Don’t punish your liver and waistline just to please your taste buds. Eat your calories to benefit from the nutrients and fiber that fruit has to offer. No wonder we never argued when we were offered juice as kids.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2453647/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6124975/

https://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f5001

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2664987/

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Megan Johnson McCullough owns a fitness studio in Oceanside CA called Every BODY's Fit. She has an M.A. in Physical Education & Health Science, is a current candidate for her Doctorate in Health & Human Performance, and she's an NASM Master Trainer & Instructor. She's also a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, Wellness Coach, and AFAA Group Exercise Instructor.