Being Risk Averse: Why You Shouldn't Rely on Juices for Your Fruit Servings
The Benefits of Fruit and How Fruit Juices Match Up
Compounds uniquely found in fruits have been shown to have a positive impact on all areas of your health, so let’s dive into how fruit juices match up against some of the more important benefits of whole fruits.
Effects of Whole Fruits
Effects of Fruit Juices
Vitamin & Minerals
At the surface level, juices are loaded in awesome nutrients, like vitamin C, that have a number of benefits including anti-inflammation, immune health, and metabolic function. But they are also inferior to the benefits of whole fruits, and in some cases, cause some pretty impactful negative effects. The main reason? You are missing the most important part- the fiber. We break down just how important fiber is in our previous blog: Stop Counting Calories and Start Counting Fiber. Let’s now explore why the lack of fiber makes fruit juice an inferior, and at times a dangerous choice, compared to whole fruits.
Breaking Down Whole Fruit Vs. Fruit Juices
The benefits of whole fruits and vegetables can be broken down into a few categories: nutrient intake, support bodily functions, disease prevention, and satisfy hunger. When you look at fruit juices, the same cannot always be said. Juices provide similar vitamins and minerals, which help promote immune function effectively, but beyond those two factors.
Nutrition Intake: 1 Whole Orange vs. 8 oz. 100% Orange Juice
1 Whole Orange
Vitamin C- 116%, Potassium- 6%, Vitamin B6- 5%, Calcium- 5%, Magnesium- 3%
8 fl oz. 100% Orange Juice
Vitamin C- 206%, Potassium- 14% , Vitamin B6- 5%, Calcium- 5%, Magnesium- 6%
The nutrient intakes are very similar, with the juice actually looking like a slightly better option when looking at the vitamins and minerals offered by both options. The reason? It takes about 3 oranges to make one serving (8 fl oz.). Therefore, the juice offers a much more concentrated version, but only truly a better source of potassium (6% vs 14%), because both sources offer over 100% of you vitamin C. As you will see, it is the concentrated amount along with the lack of fiber that causes a lot of the health issues associated with fruit juices.
Support Bodily Functions: 1 Whole Fruit Vs. 8 fl oz 100% fruit juice
The three main functional benefits of fruits are promoting immune function, heart health, and digestion. When compared head to head, fruit juices only offer similar benefits to whole fruits for immune health
- Immune Health– Fruits are commonly considered excellent foods to boost your immune system. The main reason is that they are all predominantly excellent sources of vitamin C, which helps in the formation and metabolic function of immune cells. Studies have never confirmed that extreme intakes of vitamin C (way higher than 100%) have an increased effect on immune function. Therefore the increased intake in the juice means nothing in a head-to-head comparison and is most likely just removed as waste by your body.
- Cardiovascular Health– Both whole fruit and juices are great options for heart health. They help regulate blood pressure and reduce inflammation in the body- two major hallmarks of cardiovascular disease. Whole foods take it a step further as they also help to reduce cholesterol levels, the main marker used to assess heart health. The reason only the whole version offers this benefit? FIBER!
- Digestion– Initial instinct might say fruit juices cannot help digestion because they do not have fiber, but that is not the only way fruits help with digestion. Though fiber is the most important component of digestion, it is also extremely important to keep inflammation in your gut down for healthy digestion, and fruit juices are packed with anti-inflammatories. That being said, limited fiber intake= increased chance of constipation and reduce nutrient absorption, so point whole fruit.
Winner: Whole Fruit
Disease Prevention: 1 Whole Fruit Vs. 8 fl oz. 100% Fruit Juice
- Cancer Prevention– Fruits and fruit juices are packed with antioxidants that have potent anti-cancer effects-making them both good options. That being said, fiber has been touted as one of the most powerful anti-cancer compounds when consumed in proper amounts.
- Heart Disease– They both lower inflammation and high blood pressure levels when consumed. These effects help to take a lot of stress off your heart and allow your cardiovascular system to maintain proper structure without excess stress. Yet without the fiber, the effects have been shown to be inferior in fruit juices, but the exact mechanism why is unknown.
- Diabetes Type 2– The true culprit of it all! Fruit juice consumption is associated with an increased risk of diabetes type 2 whereas whole fruit consumption reduces your risk. (1) The reason is due to the high concentration of sugar and lack of fiber in a fruit juice. Remember, one serving (8 fl oz) of juice takes 3 pieces of fruit. That is 3 times the sugar in one serving and no fiber. Fiber slows the absorption of sugar into the blood to keep levels regulated. Therefore in one serving, you get three times the sugar and none of the fiber for a SERIOUS blood sugar spike.
Winner: Whole Fruit
Satisfies Hunger: 1 Whole Fruit Vs. 8 fl oz. 100% Fruit Juice
Fruit juices are actually a terrible option for those trying to control their eating because the high sugar level and lack of fiber. This combination leads to the previously mentioned sugar spikes, which in turn cause a “sugar low” in your system. This “low’ leads to your body promoting a higher level of hunger- making it much easier to overeat. Therefore you are much better off eating that apple over the apple juice because it will keep you fuller longer, not cause a spike, and lead to normal levels of hunger later in the day. (2)
Winner: Whole Fruit
The Final Winner: Whole Fruit Vs. Fruit Juices
Whole Fruit (Winner)
3 – 0 – 1
0 – 3 – 1
Whole fruits are undefeated when matched up against fruit juices on which one offers the better benefits. Now its time to make your choice!
Just Because Whole Fruit is Better, That Does Not Mean Fruit Juices as Bad
Throughout this article, I have taken the time to expose fruit juices for not being as healthy as they seem, but I do not want to leave you with the impression that they are terrible for you. Some benefits of fruit juice mentioned include: anti-cancer, immune health, and heart health. They are a good resource- in moderation. The negative effects associated with fruit juices are typically only present if you rely on them solely for your fruit servings. If you are a big fan of fruit juices and struggle to consume enough fruit, consider having one glass a day and try to consume it as part of a meal with fiber to limit the sugar spikes associated with them!
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