The guidelines for a healthy diet include five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. So is sipping several cups of juice a day a healthy way to fit in fruits and vegetables? Not exactly. Let’s look a little deeper into the glass to understand the facts.
Not the same nutrients
Fruit and vegetable juices do not contain the same nutrients as the whole food, especially fiber. Found in the flesh of the fruit or vegetable, fiber helps you feel fuller longer because it takes longer to break down in your digestive system. Juice gives you all of the calories of a piece of fruit without the feeling of being full, leading to overconsumption.
While drinking eight ounces of juice will count toward one serving of fruits and vegetables, the calories are different between juice and a piece of whole fruit. It’s better to eat a whole fruit than drink it.
All sugars are not created equal
Scientists generally consider consuming too much sugar as a contributing factor to obesity. While most agree that getting natural sugars from fruit are not part of this equation, getting natural sugars only from fruit juice can still cause excess intake of sugars. In fruit juice, fructose is released into the blood stream all at once, making insulin work overtime to metabolize these sugars. Repeated spikes in sugar can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Too much sugar
The amount of sugar in juice (roughly one teaspoon per ounce) can be hard on your teeth, especially if you consume sugary drinks regularly. Remember to brush, floss, and rinse to help prevent cavities and tooth decay. Keep in mind, the effect of sugar on teeth is especially hard on children who still have their baby teeth. In general, children under one year old should only have ¼ cup of juice per day, while children between the ages of one and five should only have ½ cup per day. Consider diluting it with water to reduce the sugar content.
Stay savvy when it comes to sugar by remembering it has many other names, including high fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fruit juice concentration, glucose, sucrose, molasses, and cane sugar.