Get the juice on fruit juice

We all know sugary soft drinks are bad for us, but is fruit juice really any better?

That glass of freshly squeezed orange juice might look appealing, but it may not be as good for you as you think.

In fact, the amount of sugar in a glass of juice is often similar to the sugar content in a glass of soft drink.

US research recently found each additional glass of sugary drink consumed by people aged 45 years and older was associated with an 11 per cent increased risk of dying – mostly due to the effects of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The same size glass of fruit juice was associated with a 24 per cent higher risk.

Fruit juice v soft drinks

The key nutrients in sugary drinks and juices are mostly the same – sugar and water – and while juices contain some extra vitamins and minerals, their effect on the body is similar to soft drink.

So too much juice isn’t ideal for anyone who has diabetes, as it raises blood sugar levels quickly.

Sugary drinks and fruit juice both have about 10 per cent sugar content, says Simone Austin, of the Dietitians Association of Australia.

“People think juice is healthy and they don’t realise how much sugar it contains and how many pieces of fruit make a single glass of juice,” says the author of Eat Like an Athlete.

“You also tend to guzzle juice quickly so don’t feel full afterwards, whereas if you sat down and ate a piece of fruit, you’d feel fuller.”

Half a glass of juice, or 125ml, is considered to be one serve of fruit, but most people drink more than that.

A full glass of orange juice can contain as many as five oranges – more than the recommended two serves of fruit a day.

Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend we limit our intake of drinks containing added sugar, including sugar-sweetened soft drink and cordials and fruit drinks.

“Juice often doesn’t contain the fibre of a piece of fruit either,” says Simone.

The skin of some fruit also contains pectins that help feed healthy gut bacteria and they aren’t found as much in juice.

Top tips to enjoy fruit juice

  • Juice is a better choice than soft drink, but a piece of fruit is an even better choice.
  • If you have juice – have no more than half a glass at a time and choose pressed juice or juice with pulp that has some fibre content.
  • If you make your own juice, combine a fist-sized serve of fruit with some veggies like carrot, spinach or beetroot.
  • Turn your juice into a smoothie with some low fat-milk or natural yoghurt. The protein will make it a more filling snack, particularly after a session at the gym or after work or school and the calcium will boost bone strength and health.

Written by Sarah Marinos.