Fruit Juice: What To Look For And What to Avoid

As the days of Spring lead into the warm days of Summer, many people begin to look for beverages to cool the whole family off. One of the most common drinks is juice, which has long been thought of a healthy option for toddlers and children. With recent studies linking the over consumption of juice to childhood obesity and diabetes, I began to wonder how healthy fruit is for adults and children. One thing to keep in mind is that a diet (for an adult or child) that is overall healthy and is not full of a lot of added sugar (less than 6 teaspoons or 20 grams per day for an adult) it would be okay to have the occasional glass of juice. See the tips below to maximize the health benefits of drinking juice. 

Update as of July 2017:  A new study reported by the New York Times says that in moderation that fruit juice does not contribute to childhood obesity. 

When you go to the grocery store be on the lookout for these terms:

100% Fruit Juice:

Make sure that the words 100% Fruit Juice is written on the bottle or box. If you see the words, drink, punch, cocktail, beverage, or “ade.” These usually indicate that the juice is a mix of water, sugar, additives, and less than 100% juice. Thus, has little to no health benefit and some would argue that is no different than drinking soda. 

Sugar:

When it comes to sugar in juice the main thing to know is the difference between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars.

Fruits and vegetables have naturally occurring sugars. When sugar is consumed with the fiber, protein, or other nutrients it slows the absorption of the sugar by the body.

Sometimes food manufacturers add sugar to juice (or other foods) to make it taste sweeter and be more enjoyable for people. The problem with adding sugar is that when consumed there is not any fiber to slow the absorption in the body. And anyone who has seen a child after consuming lots of candy knows what a large dose of sugar can do (i.e. sugar high).

If you want to avoid added sugar, look for the words “No Added Sugar” on the juice container. Honestly, the ingredients list should ideally have very few ingredients, as in apple, water.  

Always check for the ingredients label to make sure there is no added sugar to the juice. In addition, to looking for the word sugar look for these words:

High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, honey, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose, and syrup.

The table below demonstrates the amount of sugar in beverages often given to children. The amount of sugar is the average of those drinks and depending on which kind of juice the amount sugar will vary. The 8 ounces size is the general serving size and is actually more than the recommended amount to give to toddlers (see below). Also, keep in mind that water, milk and 100% fruit juice are the only drinks that do not have added sugar. Lastly, just drinking 8 oz of many of the drinks would lead to your total added sugar intake for the day. 

Note: for adults or children with blood sugar issues, even consuming naturally occurring sugars could cause insulin spikes and blood sugar drops.

Drink: Size: Sugar:
Water 8 oz 0 grams
Milk 8 oz 12 grams
 100% Fruit Juice 8 oz 14 grams
Chocolate Milk 8 oz 24 grams
Powered Drink Mix(with added sugar) 8 oz 24 grams
Coke 8 oz 25 grams
Juice Drinks (less than 100% juice) 8 oz 27 grams

Other Words to Lookout for:

Words like “enhance,” “maintain,” or “support” are words often used to have the consumer feel that the product they are buying is healthy and good for you. Often times, these claims cannot be backed up by hard science. When reading what is printed on the front of product check to see that the nutritional facts and ingredients back it up.

Tips and Tricks for Consuming Juice:

  • 4 to 6 ounces of juice per day is considered the recommended amount to give children. Below is 8 oz of Fresh Apple Juice

8 oz of Fresh Apple Juice

  • Juice is best served with a meal that has protein and healthy fats and not consumed alone or on an empty stomach as consuming protein or healthy fats will slow the absorption of sugar by the body and keep blood sugar levels balanced. Another theory is that the sugar in the juice can cause tooth decay from drinking juice being exposed to the teeth over a prolonged amount of time.
  • Dilute the juice with water (half juice with water) will help dilute the sugar and makes it go farther!
  • If you like fizzy drinks, try adding a little seltzer water to the juice.
  • If you want to know exactly what is in the juice you are giving your kids, then you can make your own using a juicer or high-powered blender. This option does take some additional time and using very ripe fruits works best. Also, you can mix in vegetables to add nutrients, fiber, and can slow the amount of sugar ingested by the body. Whenever possible use organic, locally grown, leave the skins on the fruits and vegetables and wash them well.
  • Many restaurants and stores have juice bars or carry fresh juices. These can cost more than bottled juices and are a great option if you want to try a new juice.

Fruit Juice can be convenient and refreshing, but consume it in moderation. Also, be on the look out for added sugar and claims that are not backed up by the nutritional facts on any packaged juices. 

Have a favorite juice or recipe? Post it below.

Fruit Juice and Smiles,

Heidi

This blog is not sponsored. All products were purchased by Beansters Bytes LLC. All opinions are our own. We are not medical professionals; this blog is for entertainment purposes only.

 

I am a Nutritionist and Blogger who is not known for her plating of food or photo skills. I love to empower people to live the busy lives they have created, while being healthy, happy, and hopefully at their best every day.
Posted in Drinks, Fruit and Veggie, Nutrition & Wellness Tips, Tips & Tricks, Treats and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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