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Fitness Nutrition Forums

Why Juice is Worse For You Than You Probably Think

Is juice a convenient, healthy option?

Drinking juice seems like a perfect option for those of us trying to eat well: we know that we should all be eating more fruits and vegetables, but it’s not always convenient. A bottle of juice is so easy—it’s portable and doesn’t require any preparation. But, is it really a good substitute for eating whole foods?

Juice is made by grinding or adding pressure to whole fruits and vegetables to extract the liquid. Many vitamins and minerals are in the juice, like vitamin C. However, they are deficient in a major nutrient: fiber, which is the pulp that is left over after juicing. It’s the skin, peel, and hard bits (like the skins of orange slices) of plant foods. Many Americans are deficient in fiber, so this is a nutrient we should not be avoiding.

Many store-bought juices contain added ingredients to keep the juice fresh and appealing, like preservatives, coloring, and sugar. Even companies that don’t add sugar will often add sweet fruit juice (like apple) to sweeten the drink. This leads to a “natural” product that actually has a lot of sugar in it. For example, the company Evolution Fresh sells a juice called “Super Green” that does not have sugar in the ingredient list, but still has 52 grams in one bottle!

Having that much sugar at once may lead to a blood sugar spike, even with natural sugars. Some dietary components can help slow digestion, which means that the glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream slowly and blood levels do not spike as high. These include fiber (the pulp), protein, and fat, which are typically not found in juice. If you want to have juice, drink it with a meal or snack so that the blood sugar spike is dulled. Better yet – have a smoothie instead, made with whole fruits and vegetables so you get some fiber as well. Some companies even have smoothies with added protein or fat, which can be a good option, but it’s best to treat these juices like a meal replacement as many people fill up on liquid calories without realizing how many calories they contain. One of Evolution Fresh’s protein options has 380 calories in one bottle—which is a small meal on its own.

There are many healthy options, but it’s important to check the ingredient list and nutrition facts label in order to choose the best options. Select juices that contain mostly vegetables, and it’s even better if they use whole vegetables or add protein or fat (like avocado!).

One last note—keep in mind that food companies will use colors and buzzwords like “fresh” and “green” to attract your attention. Many of these health terms are not defined or regulated, so they really do not mean anything. No matter what type of juice you choose, check the ingredient list to guarantee the product is made from fruits and vegetables without added any sugar.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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