Image Courtesy: Adrienne
There are plenty of fruit juice myths out there – what’s good for you and what’s not are easily confused as juice companies label their empty calorie-laden, corn-syrup filled liquid candies with labels like “antioxidant” and “all-natural.”
But it’s healthy to choose fruit juice, right?
Actually, it may not always be the right decision – for your diet or for your health. Today, I’d like to talk about the myth of fruit juice and clarify a few things about the amounts that may or may not be good for you.
Is ‘More’ Fruit Juice Good for You?
Many people have the idea that more fruit juice is better for you. Consider the widespread idea of the goodness of a glass of orange juice a day. But few check the label: most people get the carton and pour themselves a full drinking glass, when even the companies’ own recommended dosage is 6 to 8 ounces – little more than a small coffee cup! And fruit juice gets off with a get-out-of-jail free card when it doesn’t always deserve one.
A good example is this: by now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the so-called “Obesity tax” that Governor Paterson has proposed to pass in New York. While the motivation for the tax is rooted in truth – average Americans are more obese than ever, and do need assistance making healthy dietary choices – it lets off hormone-filled milk, dangerous diet sodas, and fruit juice tax free while taxing sugary soft drinks. But the truth is this: if a dieter replaced their daily soda intake with fruit juice, they would be ingesting the same amount of sugars and probably more calories than they were originally drinking.
Fruits Better than Fruit Juice
I’m not arguing that fruit juice is as bad as soda; it’s definitely not. It’s got nutritious value. Many fruit juices contain essential vitamins and can help to contribute to your daily nutritional needs. But fruit juice has this always-healthy-for-you image that needs to be turned around. It can be good for you – in moderation. Actually, many doctors recommend getting your fluids from water and your daily fruit intake from real fruit — and limiting your fruit juice intake to one serving per day.
Actual fruit is much more filling, contains no added sugars, and is filled with fiber, which is something most people are sorely lacking in their diets. Additional research shows that fruit peels contain many more antioxidants and vitamins that do not make it into fruit juice (but wash that produce carefully before you eat the peels!).
Make Your Own Fruit Juice
If you’re a devoted juice drinker, consider investing in a juicer for your kitchen: by juicing your own fruits and vegetables, you can be sure there are no hidden added sugars, and you can add in terrific vegetable juices (like beets, carrots, or kale) for an extra nutritional punch. And if the idea of juicing is too much trouble, stick to one serving of 100% juice per day and pack a banana, apple, or orange into your lunch instead.
The average serving of fruit (one-half cup) contains between 70 and 100 calories, whereas even a small serving of fruit juice will contain at least that amount, and lack the essential fiber and some antioxidants. And be sure to drink your water. You can always get a dose of flavor by squeezing a twist of lemon or lime into your water (or the occasional bottle of seltzer if you’re still craving that soda fizz) – and you’ll be replenishing your fluids with something calorie-free and pure.
Maria (Niina) Pollari is a poet, editor, writer and translator. She wrote two chapbooks, Fabulous Essential (2009) and Book Four (2011). Pollari’s writing has been featured in numerous literary journals as well as the Brooklyn Rail and Jezebel.com. She has received her Master’s in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.