Is fruit juice good for you? It’s a seemingly simple question but it can set off very long-winded answers. We’ll try not to bore you with one of those. But here’s what you need to know about the good – and bad – of drinking fruit juice.
But before we answer this question, we want to first clarify an important difference between store-bought fruit juice and pure, freshly squeezed or blended fruit juice. While both may technically be fruit juices, there is a world of difference between the two.
Is Fruit Juice Bad for You?
For a long time, we’ve grown accustomed to thinking of fruit juice as the “healthy” option. That’s how marketers present store-bought fruit juice, after all – with pictures of rosy farmers growing brightly-colored fruit, happy and healthy children sipping on juice boxes, and slogans and logos that refer to the “naturalness” of fruit juice.
Still, as most of us know by now, just because a fruit juice was made from ingredients that “grows on trees” doesn’t necessarily make it healthy. Several articles have already pointed out the health fallacies of drinking store-bought fruit juice.
“It’s pretty much the same as sugar water,” said Dr. Charles Billington, an appetite researcher at the University of Minnesota. In the modern diet, “there’s no need for any juice at all.”
A glass of juice concentrates all the sugar from several pieces of fruit. Ounce per ounce, it contains more calories than soda, though it tends to be consumed in smaller servings. A cup of orange juice has 112 calories, apple juice has 114, and grape juice packs 152, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The same amount of Coke has 97 calories, and Pepsi has 100.“
But still – fruit juice has nutritional benefits that make up for its calorie count, right?
Well, not really. At least not in the case of store-bought fruit juice. The vitamin C that we naturally associate with oranges is totally lost in the processing of orange juice and is only re-added right before packaging. And the fiber? Well, it does exist abundantly in actual fruit, but is pretty much all gone from the processed juice.
So, the answer to the question, “Is fruit juice bad for you?” would be a resounding “Yes” – but only when it comes to store bought fruit juice.
For a visual display on the actual health risks of store-bought fruit juice, here’s a quick snapshot of what you get from store bought fruit juices.
Is Fruit Juice Good for You When Homemade?
You already know that store-bought fruit juice is generally not good for you, but what about the fresh fruit juice you can make right at home?
The question of whether pure, freshly juiced fruit juice is bad for you is slightly complicated.
See, fresh fruit is great for you and juicing fresh fruit allows you to consume much more fruit at one time. Sounds good, right? And more of a good thing should be better but as with many things in life, too much of a good thing can be bad.
See, actual fruit contains important components that are lost through the process of juicing.
The fiber found in fruits, for example, is what stops you from eating 3 or 4 apples in one sitting – it would just fill you up too much. This is why eating actual fresh fruit isn’t much of a sugar threat.
Fruit juice, on the other hand, takes out the fiber so you can add 3 to 4 apples (and all the sugar that it contains) and still get only ONE 8-ounce glass of fresh apple juice.
And how many of those glasses do you think you can drink?
It’s this lack of fiber in fresh fruit juice that makes it incredibly easy for anyone to end up consuming much more sugar than they’d like to.
Why Fruit Juice Can Be Bad
That lack of fiber can be great when it comes to juicing veggies because it allows for faster, better digestion but in the case of fruit, the absence of fiber denies you the handy time-release of sugar that fiber provides.
In addition to this, juicing removes some of the fruit’s skin (goes toward pulp) in the juicing process.
This isn’t great news since the skin of the fruit is where the fruit interacts with sunlight and forms a variety of colored pigments, including carotenoids and flavonoids, which are incredibly helpful nutrients that help to protect our skin and bodies from free radicals and other damage.
After all, it’s the skin of the fruit often contains the bulk of a fruit’s nutrients.
Still, I’m not going to say that fresh fruit juice is bad for you per se.
Rather, I’d simply like to break our natural association that fruit = healthy, and shift this to a more nuanced understanding of how to consume fruit so it truly is healthy.
How to Make Healthy Fruit Juice
So, the question we should be asking is not whether “fruit juice” in itself is good or bad for you, but how fresh fruit juice can be consumed to provide the MOST benefits and the LEAST harm.
Here are some quick tips on how to drink fresh fruit juice that is GOOD for you.
Drink it Fresh
Don’t settle for processed, store-bought juice. If you’re going to drink fruit juice, make it yourself from pure, natural fruit.
And when you do – remember to drink it as soon as you can. The second that your fresh pressed juice hits the air, its nutrients will begin to oxidize and its enzymes will begin to denature, meaning you’ll lose nutritional value. Drinking your juice directly after you make it is the easiest way to reap the most benefits from fresh juice.
Note: A lot of people want to make large batches of juice and store them in their fridge for later use. While this is convenient, it isn’t great if you want to gain the most nutrients from your home made juice. Its recommended that you drink your juice within 20 minutes after making it.
However, if you must – and most of us do, let’s be honest – if you do have to store extra juice, then make sure you store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Juice made from slow juicers (masticating and triturating juicers) can be stored for 72 hours, but juices made using centrifugal juicers should be consumed immediately. Find out how best to store fresh juice to retain maximum nutrients!
Use Fruit it Sweeten
Vegetable juices are amazing for you. So instead of drinking all-fruit juices, use fruits as a sweetener to flavor mostly-veggie juices! Adding just a little bit of fruit to your veggie juices goes a long way in the sweetness factor and you’ll have overall healthier juices.
Drink in Moderation
Sweet fruits and vegetables such as apples, watermelon, pineapple and carrots make juices taste delicious. Produce that is naturally sweet can easily mask any exotic fruit or vegetable that you aren’t too fond of, however too many sweet fruits can add excess sugar to your juices.
The sugar that is found in fruits and vegetables is completely natural, but you still shouldn’t overload on it. If your juice has too much natural sugar in it then your insulin and blood glucose levels could be affected.
Overtime, you could begin to crave more sugary foods, and your metabolism could slow, causing you to gain weight. Try to stick with one sweet fruit per glass of juice. For green juices, you can even cut most of the sweet fruits. You’ll begin feeling better without the excess fructose in your diet, and you will grow accustomed to drinking juices that are less than sweet.
As delicious as fruit juice is, just remember: Fruit is good for you – as long as you don’t exceed your sugar intake. Drink as much in fruit juice as you would eat in actual fruit and no more.
Choose the Best Juicer
By the best juicer, I mean a juicer that allows close to 100% retention of the pulp and skin of fresh fruit.
In my honest opinion – the best juicer for fruits is actually a blender since it keeps all the fiber content intact. If you plan on juicing a lot of fruit, I highly recommend the Hurom Slow Juicer & Smoothie Maker below since it’s a superb juicer for juicing both fruits and vegetables and it also has a great blender function so you can add in your fibrous, mushy fruits to make a mean smoothie.
If you plan on juicing mostly fruits, I’d recommend that you save money by splurging on a great blender instead of a juicer. I use and highly recommend the Ninja Nutri Pro, which does a fantabulous job of blending copious amounts of fruit (and veggies).
HUROM JUICER & BLENDER
NUTRI NINJA PRO
Mix Up Your Fruits
Because fruit juices are so lovely, you might find yourself getting very fond of one or two particular types of fruits to juice – like watermelon and lime juice (guilty!).
It’s so easy to fall into a routine, especially when it comes to what we juice. However, if you juice the same fruits every day, then you aren’t introducing new nutrients, phytonutrients and antioxidants to your body. Instead of using the same old fruits each day, try to find more fruit juice recipes you love, then switch it up. By drinking different juices each morning you’ll gain a wider range of nutrients, and you won’t get bored with your daily dose of vitamins.