In recent years, there has been a global movement away from soda and to fruit juice and smoothies under the premise they are a healthier replacement. But as soda consumption dropped by 9% globally over the last 10 years, obesity rose during the same time frame by 15%.
Part of the rise is thought to be caused by the increased consumption of fruit juice and smoothies. But how can that be? Aren’t they made from all natural ingredients?
While most fruit juice and smoothies do contain natural fruit, the problem come from the processing, packaging and promoting of the product.
Juicing removes almost all of the fiber and many of the nutrients that you would otherwise get if you ate the whole fruit in its natural state. While most people would be satisfied eating an orange or two, a smoothie can have the sugar of six oranges, but without the fiber to keep you full, you are looking for something more to eat an hour or two later once the sugar wears off.
As with many foods, when we buy a packaged product, most of us think it is one serving, but you have to look at the nutritional label to be sure. In the case of fruit juices and smoothies, there can be two servings in a bottle.
So if you drink the whole thing, which is the common thing to do, you have ingested twice the calories (and twice the sugar) that you would have otherwise had you had just one serving or half the bottle.
Companies are deceptive in their advertising. For example one company states their 8 ounce orange smoothies “are made entirely from fruit and therefore contain the same amount of sugars that you would find in an equivalent amount of whole fruit”. But if you look at the label, it has 29 grams of sugar! Compare that to the nutritional label of an eight ounce serving of orange juice and it lists sugar as 19.05 grams. So, where did the other 10 grams of sugar come from?
A couple better alternatives to fruit juice and smoothies are to either eat unprocessed fruit or freshly squeezed juice, or smoothies made from vegetable juice. Real fruit in its natural state has all the fiber and nutrients, and you know what you are getting; no hidden ingredients. Smoothies or juice made from vegetables have far less sugar than ones made from fruit, so you are getting fewer calories per equal serving and without blood sugar spiking.
Drinking juice and smoothies can be healthy if you select the right products or make you own drinks so you know what is in them.