If you are like many parents and trying to help your kids make good choices about what they are eating, you might find yourself reaching for fruit juice when you are shopping instead of soda. While I applaud the move to get soda out of your and your children’s life, fruit juice is actually no better than soda and it may actually be much worse.
I know that this is the last thing you want to hear because when you think of fruit juice it seems so natural and it just feels like it is good for you. When you are shopping and you see a label that says “100 percent fruit juice” it looks healthier than everything else on the isle. Or, when you see that cooler of fresh squeezed juices and smoothies it seems fresh, natural, and full of vitamins.
Yes, fruit is natural. The problem lies is how much we are drinking and the strange messages that fructose sends to our bodies.
Let’s take a look:
- Processed: All fruit in nature comes surrounded by fiber. This fiber helps keep your blood sugar low when you eat the whole fruit; the fiber also helps you to feel full. Fruit juice is lacking in fiber, so when you drink it your blood sugar skyrockets. Since most people in the developed world are seriously lacking fiber, the last thing you want to do is process fiber out of your diet.
- Fructose: There are many problems with fructose. Many people want to believe that it is good for you because it is a natural sugar, but this isn’t true. Fructose is metabolized differently than other sugars and leads to an increase in fat. Fructose acts like a switch in the body and starts producing fat. Recent research has shown that it also leads to overeating.
- Seasonal Weight Gain: Fructose has a place in our world; it is the sugar that tells the body that winter is coming. Think about it: the time of the year when you can eat fruit is right before winter comes around. Your body takes the ingestion of fructose as a clue that it needs to store fat (and that is what it does). When you have fruit sugar around all year around, you are telling your body to store fat (and fat storage leads to all sorts of problems such as heart disease, diabetes and more).
What about the vitamins?
When you see vitamins and minerals listed on a bottle of fruit juice, you have to take that with a grain of salt. The juice may have had vitamins when it was first made, but then pasteurization and a long trip from the processing plant to the grocery store and then to your home makes it unlikely a lot of those vitamins are still in your juice.
Fruit juice may look like a natural product, but it is not. If you are looking to add pounds to you and your children’s bodies, then fruit juice is just the thing for you. But since we have the opposite problem and need to worry about our weight, it is best to avoid fruit juice altogether.