n4 nutrition

Juice Is Not The Same As Whole Fruit

Average Rating:
Number of Ratings:
0
To add you own rating or comments, you need to be a member. Join now, it's free!
Intro
Here’s a very helpful resource you can use when explaining to your clients that juice is not equivalent to fruit. In fact, juice is a far less healthy option than a real piece of fresh fruit. Despite the fact that freshly-squeezed juice has a health halo and is marketed as natural, nutritious and fat-free (thanks to the growing number of juice bars everywhere), juice is increasingly coming under fire for its significant content of fruit sugars and the fact that it’s so easy to over consume.

Juice is not equivalent to fruit. In fact, juice is a far less healthy option than a real piece of fresh fruit. Despite the fact that freshly-squeezed juice has a health halo and is marketed as natural, nutritious and fat-free (thanks to the growing number of juice bars everywhere), juice is increasingly coming under fire for its significant content of fruit sugars and the fact that it’s so easy to over consume.

Australia's official Eat for Health Guide1 formally recognises just half a glass of juice (a small 125mL or 4oz) as ONE serve of fruit. This counts as one of the TWO serves of fruit a day that’s recommended for older children, teens and adults. 

Yes, you can eat more fruit depending on your age and activity but there’s no need to overdo fruit if you’re not burning it off. Fruit has a different nutrition profile to vegetables, having more natural fructose sugar and kilojoules (calories) than vegetables but less fibre, fewer minerals and fewer natural protective phytochemicals too.

However, the Guide is quite stern – with good sense, I do admit – when it adds this qualifier to fruit juice:

“Only to be used occasionally as a substitute for other foods in the group.”

So you can swap a small glass (125mL) of 100 per cent juice with no added sugar every now and then for:

 

·       1 piece (150g) medium sized apple, orange, pear or other fruit

OR

·       2 pieces (150g) of apricots, plums, peaches, kiwi fruit or other small fruit

OR

·       1 cup (150g) diced, cooked or canned fruit.

 

But clearly you can’t guzzle a 600ml huge container of fruit from a juice bar each and every day. Nor pop a 250mL popper in your child’s lunch box either.

  

What’s the problem with fruit juice?

Fruit is changed when it gets blended or pulverised into juice. It’s no longer equivalent to whole fresh fruit and here are seven reasons why not:

1. Its intact whole cell structure has been broken down so no chewing is needed – you just swallow it down. It’s no longer a whole food.

2. The natural sugars in juice (mostly fructose with some sucrose) are absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream than those in whole fruit so it’s similar to a soft drink. See point 5.

3. There’s little fibre, which normally acts as a natural brake to overdoing it. Ponder this: you can drink a glass of apple juice in a minute but you can’t chomp your way through three or four whole apples which is what went into that glass2,3.

If you've ever juiced your own, you know that it takes a lot of fruit to make a single glass of juice and you throw away a lot of fibre. I have a citrus press and when oranges are in season, we buy a case and use them to squeeze fresh juice (once a year is fine). I now know that I use three small or two large oranges to obtain ONE half glass of juice. So one orange yields around a quarter of a glass of juice, which is 70mL. 

4. Drink juice and you won't feel as full. Drinking just isn’t as satisfying as eating the same amount of kilojoules (calories) in food. It’s called ‘liquid calories’ and there’s mounting evidence4,5,6 to connect them to the obesity epidemic. Put simply, fluids pass into our bodies more rapidly than food.

A 2013 study7 reported that while some fruits were protective (apples and berries), drinking fruit (in the form of juice) actually increased the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

5. At anywhere from 6 to 14 per cent sugars, juice has as much sugar as classic fizzy drinks and cordials. Even those labelled “100% fruit juice” still have 11 per cent fructose (natural fruit sugar) and water. Think of them as drinks with all the sugar but none of the fibre. Vegetable-fruit combos have fewer sugars (e.g., orange juice with kale and spinach).

 

Table. Sugars in different juices in grams per 100mL

 

Juice

% sugars

Grape juice

14.1

Fruit drink 35% orange juice

10.8

Fruit drink, 35% apple juice

11.7

Fruit drink, 35% pineapple juice

11.7

Pineapple juice

10.8

Pear juice

 9.9

Fruit drink, 25% tropical

 9.4

Orange-mango juice

 7.8

Blackcurrant juice

 8.4

Fruit juice blend (orange, apple, pineapple , grape)

 8.4

Orange juice, home-squeezed

 7.7

Apple juice

7.3

Grapefruit juice

 6.3

Carrot juice

 5.4

Tomato juice

 2.4

Cola soft drink

10.9

  Source: NUTTAB 2010 online at FSANZ

6. Many – but not all – juices are acidic (e.g., orange, grapefruit and pineapple juices – one reason why they’re so refreshing), so sipping one over the day can increase your risk of dental erosion.

7. Juices are not low kilojoule (calorie) drinks. One 250ml (8oz) glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice contains 365 kJ (87 calories) and is the equivalent of two oranges. However, it has a fraction of the fibre and twice the quantity of sugars. See below:

 

250ml glass orange juice

20g carbs (sugars)

365kJ

0.5g fibre

1 orange

8g carbs (sugars)

175kJ

2.4g fibre

 

You’ll get all of the vitamins (notably vitamin C), minerals (notably potassium), beneficial plant chemicals (phytochemicals) and sugars that are extracted from the whole fruit. You won’t get much of the fibre, and depending on the fruit, you may not get any of it. For example, orange juice contains no fibre (even if it has pulp) because most of the fibre is found in the membranes, which are lost during the process of juicing.

So are Australians drinking too much juice?Yes indeed. The 2014 Australian Health Survey8 reports that while 60 per cent of us eat some fruit only 54 per cent eat enough to meet the recommended number of two serves a day. Be pleased as that’s way better than for vegetables! Bear in mind that juice was NOT classified with fruit but as a ‘non-alcoholic beverage’ along with tea, coffee, cordial, soft drink, water and electrolyte drink. 

 

As a nation, we drink 283mL (8¼oz) per day of fruit juice and juice drinks combined. This means over one glass a day – which is a lot – and is 100 per cent more than the recommended juice maximums.

 

These figures are averaged over the whole population. Two to three-year-olds have the highest intake of juices of us all with some chugging tons of the stuff.

Bottom line: Forget juice. Eat fruit 

Think of juice as ‘liquid calories’ that don’t satiate, are all too easy to over-consume and don’t pack in the fibre of whole fruit. Yes it’s healthy (in small doses), fat-free and has a divine flavour but it’s still high in natural sugars and ranks on a par with soft drink. Sip with caution. And eat a piece of whole fruit with a glass of water. Or dilute your juice with water or ice.

Useful Links and references
Juice Is Not The Same As Whole Fruit
Catherine Saxelby
Accredited Nutritionist (AN), Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD)