Even in the face of our growing health conscious culture, many of us still have a sweet tooth we need satisfied. But with sugars showing up in such high amounts in things like sodas and even super sweet coffee beverages, what are we supposed to drink?
When we are too afraid of reaching for soda, we often turn to something we think is “better” for us – fruit juice.
Fruit juices just sound healthier, don’t they? I mean, the word FRUIT is in the title!
But it turns out, fruit juice is not nearly as healthy an alternative as we thought it was.
Don’t Fall Into the Trick of a Fruit “Flavored” Juice
More often than not, we find that the “fruit juice” we buy and drink is not so much fruit loaded as it is fruit flavored.
For example, that bottle of “grape juice” is more likely just purple flavored drink than actual grape juice. Think grape-colored sugar water with grape "essence".
Sounds pretty freaky, right?
What makes things worse is that it can be difficult to determine the true quality of what we buy at the store. So how do we tell the difference?
Well, cracking the code is as simple as turning the bottle around and checking out the ingredients.
The healthiest juices are the ones with the shortest amount of ingredients. If you are trying to read the listed ingredients and cannot pronounce most of them – don’t drink it. Unrecognizable words point to fake ingredients inside.
Sure they may taste great, but that’s only because of all of the added flavorings inside.
Fruit Juice is Hardly “Fruit” Anymore
Although it’s named after fruit, many juices are missing the most vital parts of the fruit itself – the skin, pulp and peels.
Don’t like the nasty and bitter taste of the rinds? That bitter taste is actually a sign that they’re packed to the brim with nutrients.
Flavonoids, the chemicals found in the skin of fruits, taste bitter when they come in contact with our tongues. The more bitter the taste, the more nutrients packed inside. Fruits with peels we often remove and throw away often become missed opportunities for easy nutrients. For example -- bananas.
“Banana peel is a major byproduct in [the] pulp industry and it contains various bioactive compounds like polyphenols, carotenoids, and others” writes Doctors Sundaram and Anjum in their recent study.
More than just bananas, oranges are another fruit that are too often a swing-and-a-miss, as they are more often consumed as a juice than as a whole fruit.
Studies show that eating the “meat” of an orange, for example, provides much more nutrients than just drinking the juice squeezed out. More than that, the peel has a ton of nutrients that we are constantly ignoring.
“The consumption of citrus fruit has been associated with a lower risk of acute coronary events and stroke,” writes Dr. Christine Morand in her study published in the AJOCN.
That being said, opt for eating the whole fruit itself rather than just drinking the juice -- at least as often as you can.
But Which Juice Drinks are BEST?
There are several different kinds of fruit “juices” out there. Fruit juice blends, fruit juice cocktails, even just fruit “flavored” juices -- so which are the ones you actually should go for to get that boost of natural goodness?
When you see the label “100% juice”, that doesn't always mean that you are drinking one-hundred percent juice of the fruit you want. The label means that everything inside the bottle is one-hundred percent juice of some kind -- which means that “orange juice” could actually be a combination of several different plant sources.
What you want are the juices labeled with the word “NO” all over them. NO artificial sweeteners, NO added sugars, NO added anything. And for an added boost of nutrients, keep the pulp inside.
The more natural the juice -- unprocessed and untouched by chemicals -- the more nutritional benefits inside. So when it comes to juice, go natural. Each and every time.
Crowe K.and Murray E.. "Deconstructing A Fruit Serving: Comparing The Antioxidant Density Of Select Whole Fruit And 100% Fruit Juices." Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2013.
Sundarum S., Anjum S., Dwivedi P., Rai G.. “Antioxidant activity and protective effect of banana peel against oxidative hemolysis of human erythrocyte at different stages of ripening”. Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology. 2011.
Morand, C., Dubray, C., Milenkovic, D., et al. "Hesperidin Contributes To The Vascular Protective Effects Of Orange Juice: A Randomized Crossover Study In Healthy Volunteers." The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2011.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with questions regarding a medical condition. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read here. This article is for general information only.