Juice recently lost its health halo, when it turned out to be just as sugary as soda, but it’s still hard to completely write off the fruity liquid as unhealthy. If you’d like to be able to have your fruit and drink it too, here’s the lowdown on the good, the bad and the healthy when it comes to juice.
The Good: You Get a Quick Hit of Antioxidants
Drinking certain fruits and vegetables can be a fast and refreshing way to top up on vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. For example, an 8-ounce serving of carrot juice can provide 700% of your daily vitamin A needs; Concord grape juice and pomegranate juice pack some serious antioxidant power, and prune juice can deliver some gut-loving regularity. But that’s pretty much where the benefit of guzzling juice ends.
The Bad: You’re Sipping Sugar & Throwing Away Fiber
Many of the bottled beverages on the market today are really just masquerading as juice. If the label says “juice cocktail,” “juice-flavored,” or “juice drink,” what’s inside is essentially a blend of water, sugar (generally in the form of high fructose corn syrup), artificial flavorings, and (if you’re lucky) a small amount of fruit or vegetable juice. Even the ones labeled “fresh juice” aren’t much better for you.
The tricky thing about juicing is it removes the fiber-rich skin and pulp from fruits and veggies, leaving behind a liquid that’s mostly sugar and water—which won’t keep you feeling full for long. And, in most cases, only a small amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants make their way into your glass.
Although the sugar that remains is the naturally occurring kind, sugar is still sugar. And, once it’s separated from the fiber, that sugar enters your bloodstream much faster than it would if you had munched on the whole fruit or vegetable. Which could explain why your body doesn’t register liquid calories the same way it does when you eat solid calories, and why fruit juice drinkers are more likely to be overweight and more likely to develop type-2 diabetes.
The Healthy: Opt for Water & Smoothies Over Straight Juice
Water should always be your drink of choice when you’re thirsty. The small amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in most juice simply doesn’t outweigh the high sugar content and large number of calories. And, sadly, that goes for coconut water, too. Without the fiber from the coconut meat, the average bottle of coconut water can deliver a whopping 5 teaspoons (19 grams) of sugar—nearly an entire days’ worth!
If you’re a juice junkie and find the habit hard to kick, stick to a small, 4- to 6-ounce portion of 100%, no-sugar-added juice, choose one made up of mostly vegetables (green juices tend to be lower in calories), and dilute your juice with water or ice to reduce your sugar intake even more.
Own a juicer? Time to upgrade to a blender! There is no denying, eating the whole, high-fiber, low-calorie fruit or vegetable is the healthiest option, so turn your juice into a meal by blending whole fruits and veggies into a smoothie. You can also toss in extra goodies, like nuts, seeds, avocado, or yogurt, to further increase the fiber content and make your drink more satiating.
Are you a juice drinker? Think you’ll cut back now? Join the conversation below!
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.