The Fresh-Squeezed Truth*
Why fruit juice is no better for your diet than soda
Soda, fast food, school cafeteria lunches—many different facets of the American diet have been targeted as culprits in the obesity epidemic as awareness has increased. These issues are obvious—they are unquestionably unhealthy parts of the American lifestyle that make us wonder how we thought they were ever OK in the first place.
But as we seek to reverse the growing trend of obesity in our country, there are other, less obvious items that have come to light. If you’re a patient of weight loss surgery, you may already know just how unhealthy many supposedly “healthy” things can be. Some foods that we assume are beneficial to our diets actually pack in tons of calories, extra sugar and fat, contributing to expanding waistlines despite our best intentions to lose weight.
Unfortunately, fruit juice is one such item. Many wrongly assume that fruit juice is a healthier substitute for high-sugar beverages like soda, believing that the nutrients contained in juices make their sugar content less detrimental. However, many health experts have equated juice to soda, highlighting it as an element of our diets that is just as unhealthy despite popular belief.
Squeezing Out the Nutrition
In many of the healthiest fruits, like apples, grapes, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries, the skin is packed with highly important nutrients. Because the skin is where fruits interact with the sun, it is where they form important pigments like carotenoids and flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants that have a proven effectiveness in protecting our health from nutritional deficiency, free radical cellular damage and diseases like cancer. However, most juicing processes remove the skin, robbing the juice of these beneficial nutrients.
Juicing also removes most of the fruit’s content of dietary fiber, which is contained in the skin and in the fruit’s fleshy pulp. With a crucial role in digestive health and blood sugar levels, fiber is one of the most important nutritional elements of fruit, but is often completely absent in juice. For example, an 8-ounce glass of apple juice requires about three to four apples to make, each of which contains about 3.75 grams of fiber in solid form. Though eating those apples would provide you with double your average daily fiber intake, your typical clear glass of apple juice contains no quantifiable traces of this fiber. The pulp is also where many other nutrients are contained in their highest volume, so removing it removes much of the fruit’s overall value.
Just Eat It
Sugar and calories in liquid form have a significantly reduced ability to make us feel full and satisfied. When you eat a fruit in its whole form, the high fiber content and act of chewing help to satisfy your hunger, which can be a huge help with weight loss. Fruit juice does not satisfy us in this way and can instead lead to excessive consumption, causing people to consume huge amounts of calories in juices and many more in food.
Because of this, the very best way to consume fruit is in its whole form. Though many people try to get their daily recommended fruit intake in juice form, the USDA recommends that a majority of fruit servings come in whole form, meaning that many of us may be falling short. Most juices do contain some value of important nutrients, but nutrients at this significantly reduced value are not healthy enough to offset the high calorie content that juices contain.
The bottom line is that fruit juice is not as healthy as we once believed it to be. The most obvious culprits are “fruit drinks,” which may actually contain less than 1 percent actual juice, but even 100 percent juice seems to be largely robbed of its nutritional value. Like soda, fruit juice seems to be one thing we need to phase out of our diets—it may just take longer for all Americans to realize the negative implications that juice can have.
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*Weight loss surgery results vary between individuals depending on the initial weight, medical conditions and adherence to prescribed treatments. Speak to Dr. Bass about the results you can expect.