Orange juice is no better for you than soda pop. So say a growing number of health professionals, who are trying to undo more than half a century of consumer mindshare captured by the citrus industry. A fascinating article in the LA Times brings us the “juicy” details:
“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. read more…
According to these numbers, people should be drinking less juice and more soda. But that’s not the whole picture. Fruit juice has lots of benefits such as vitamins and minerals, doesn’t it?
The answer is not so simple. Vitamin C, for example is totally lost through the processing of oranges, but is then added again before packaging. But fiber, which can be found in abundance if you eat the actual fruit, is all but gone from the resulting juice. Also, many juices are fortified, for example with calcium.
The correct answer is that people should be drinking lots more water and a lot less of everything else. Most of a person’s calories should come from food, not liquids. It is very hard to get satiated from liquids, but very easy to gulp down three, four, even five hundred calories, mostly from the fructose in juice, all in a single sitting.
What to do at the supermarket:
Opting for juice instead of pop is a first and important step for parents. More than anything it is an acknowledgment that sugary soft drinks are unhealthy and an alternative is needed.
But the next step should be encouraging children to drink more water and eat real fruit. If your kids love juice and guzzle down more than a cup or two a day, consider watering it down in order to reduce both the calorie count and the sweetness. You can start with just a bit of water and then work your way to half n half.
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