Did you grow up drinking a glass of juice with your breakfast? Perhaps you still drink it, along with your coffee. After all, a glass of OJ means a boost of Vitamin C, right? But is fruit juice really healthy?
I once thought – as you may have – that juice was a healthier choice over sodas and processed sugary drinks. In truth, juice purchased from the store, is quite close to a drink made of liquid sugar.
What’s the Big Deal?
The sugar in fruit is fructose – the same as in the problematic high fructose corn syrup. Despite its natural source, fructose, unless it is wrapped in a whole fruit, is bad news for your body. It is known to contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cholesterol challenges.
Drinking a 12-oz glass of OJ floods your system with a whopping 37 grams of sugar. The same amount of apple juice brings in 40 grams of sugar, which is as much as the average can of soda. At 4 grams per teaspoon, that’s a lot of sugar.
One of the biggest problems is that fruit juice contains NO fiber and is a concentrated source of liquid sugar/fructose. Juice goes through your digestive system quickly and spikes your blood sugar levels. This contributes to the development of insulin resistance, weight gain and stress on your liver, where fructose is processed. This study demonstrated what is far too common.
How is Fruit Juice Made?
There’s more to producing fruit juice than you realize – it’s not just squeezed right into the carton. Oranges are picked from the orchards and the juice is extracted, heated to pasteurize, and stored in huge vats where the oxygen is removed to extend the storage life. Removing the oxygen removes a lot of flavor, so companies hire chemical engineers to create “flavor packs” that make the juice taste fresh squeezed again. Yuck!
Though you expected to consume vitamins, antioxidants and enzymes in your juice, the pasteurization process wipes these out. Lacking fiber means that there’s nothing to slow the spike of blood sugar or feed your gut bacteria. That’s a problem!
Are There Better Options?
Yes, and they start with the foundation of hydration – water. You can add flavor by infusing your water with slices of orange, lemon, lime or cucumber. I particularly enjoy a glass of sparkling water with a squeeze of lime or a splash of cranberry juice.
And if you need more flavor, try kombucha tea. This fermented tea is low in sugar and high in healthful phytochemicals and gut-healing probiotics. You will find kombucha in the produce section of your grocery store. There are a variety of flavors available and I recommend you look for one with 8 grams of sugar or less.
Is fruit juice really healthy? While you may be shocked to learn that it really isn’t, it’s never too late to edit your approach (where have I heard that before?) and improve the effect on your body. Each edit you make can take you one step further down the path to pursue wellness!