Ok deep breath! There are several facets to this. The answer to the question “is fresh fruit juice bad for you?” is not a yes or no answer. If I was asked if processed fruit juice you buy at the store is bad for you? I would be bold enough to say yes – in most cases it is just flavored sugar water. But, fresh fruit juice – it’s a different story…
The upside to drinking fresh fruit juice is the nutrition it contains. It is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It is therefore, generally speaking, great for boosting the immune system, great for detox, has anti-inflammatory properties and promotes overall good health. More specifically studies show that pomegranate may help reduce arterial clogging, grape juice helps reduce blood clot formations, apple juice can lower cholesterol and cranberry juice helps prevent the occurrence of urinary tract infections. So far so good.
The problem with fresh fruit juice is the sugar it contains. Too much sugar in the diet is a key risk for developing diabetes, is a risk for heart disease too, promotes the growth of unhealthy gut flora, and can increase inflammation in the body. The laundry list for the negative effects of excess sugar consumption doesn’t stop there either. Before that scares you into ever drinking fruit juice again, the emphasis here is on Too Much sugar. Taken in moderation, fresh fruit juice provides the above mentioned benefits for health and more.
What is a recommended amount of fruit juice to drink per day? As it stands there are no official guidelines for fruit juice, but there are guidelines for the amount of sugar we should consume. The American Heart Association (AHA) were the first to put out guidelines in 2011:
” Women should consume no more than 100 calories (about 25 grams) of added sugars per day. Most men should consume no more than 150 calories (about 37.5 grams) each day. That’s about six teaspoons of added sugar a day for women and nine for men. “
It is very easy to reach and exceed these sugar-intake guideline if we are not keeping an eye on the processed foods that we are eating. So we really need to be observant about what the rest of our diet looks like when drinking fresh fruit juice because the average 8oz glass contains between 25g to 30g of sugar!
- 8oz of fresh apple juice contains 27g of sugar (110 calories)
- 8oz of fresh orange juice contains 20g of sugar (112 calories)
Drink vegetable juice mostly. And mostly green vegetable juice. Most vegetables are considerably lower in sugar content than fruits. Green vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, kale and spinach are extremely low in calories and sugar, but absolutely brimming in antioxidants and other healthy nutrition. Green juice is just all health benefits. Even the more sweet of vegetables, such as carrots are lower in sugar than fruits, with the average 8oz glass providing 15g of sugar.
It is still a great idea to drink fruit juice, but keep the portions controlled. Stick with no more than an a 4oz glass per day, that provide an average of 12g to 15g of sugar a serving. This still leaves some leeway room for a little more sugar from other foods in the day without breaking the AHA guidelines.
Fresh fruit juice provides nutritional diversity to vegetable juice, providing certain nutrients, antioxidants and health benefits that you may not find with vegetables. We just need to be smart about how much we drink, and then we get the benefits and none of the negative effects of excess sugar consumption.