Are Fruit Juices Really As Healthy As You Think?
From boutique juice bars to Instagram celebrities holding forth on the goodness of juice fasts, the fruit juice market is on an exponential growth curve. But are fruit juices good for you?
The Good News
Ever since the National Health Service, UK, started the “Eat 5 A Day” campaign in 2003, recommending a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables a day to lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer, based on World Health Organization advice, fruit juices have become a popular way to be healthy. Although the campaign has faced criticism for its tall health claims, eating more fruit and vegetables has been linked to a lower risk of death—5 per cent for every extra serving of fruit and vegetables. Fruit juice is often counted as one of those portions.
The Bad News
As much as fruit juices look and taste good, it is best to go slow on them. Fruit juice is just not the same as eating a fruit:
1. Commercial fruit juices have as much sugar as any soft drink
2. Crushing a fruit, even at home, releases the sugar in fruits
3. The sugar in fruit juice is absorbed very fast
4. Even unsweetened fruit juice is sugary
5. Commercial fruit juice goes through too much processing
6. Fruit juice has low nutritional value.
7. It’s acidic, and along with sugar, can cause poor oral health
8. Unlike fruits, juices lack dietary fibre
9. Fruit juices contain sucrose sugar that can damage the liver
Obesity And Metabolic Syndrome
Consumption of fruit juices leads to an increase in the risk of obesity , and ‘metabolic syndrome’, a condition, which brings in several health problems together, such as high blood sugar, cholesterol, and heart risks. Sugary beverages have been extensively responsible for causing overweight in those who frequently consume them. A recent study says that those who consume fruit drinks are highly vulnerable to metabolic syndrome. “Sugar sweetened beverages have been positively associated with the risk of overweight and obesity,” says Dr Parmeet Kaur, a chief dietician at AIIMS, Delhi.
Nutrients Are Chipped Off
Making commercial fruit juice involves a lot of processing. Fruits are crushed, undergo pasteurisation, get filtered and then stored in massive vats for months. This leads to draining away of a large amount of nutrients, such as, vitamins and minerals. After the liquefied fruit is pumped out, it is nothing, but just sugar.
Zero Fibre In Every Sip
Dr Kaur says that these beverages contribute to excess calories in an individual, don’t supply any key nutrients needed by the body. For instance, fibres: they are crucial for our digestive system, regular bowel movements, make you feel fuller for longer, improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels and can help in preventing diabetes, heart disease and bowel cancers. Fruit drinks fail to provide the required amount of fibres essential for us. If a mid-sized apple provides about 2-3 grams of fibre, a 200 ml apple juice in a tetra pack gives zero fibre, yet increases your calorie intake by four times
Can Damage Our Enamel
The fruit drinks also are potential sources of cavity in your teeth. Sugar has a huge role play in teeth damage, coupled with acids in them. The harmful combination of sugar and acids are good enough to damage your teeth enamel. “We usually recommend people to have complete fruit. Only those with chewing problem are asked to have fruit juice,” says Dr Kaur.
Beware And Remember
—Limit fruit juice consumption
—Always dilute juices with lots of water
—Drink fruit juice at mealtimes to reduce teeth damage
—Avoid “juice drinks.” They have little fruit and lots of sugar
—Choose 100% and unsweetened pure fruit juice, if you have to
—Have fruits and not juices
With inputs from Team Poshan