It’s no secret that sodas are not the healthiest drinks. Often seen as one of the major factors of the obesity epidemic in western societies, sodas are packed with sugar and empty calories. Thus, fruit juice is often offered as a healthy alternative to children. But are fruit juices really healthier than sodas?
According to a recent recommendation from the World Health Organization (WHO), we should limit the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks as much as possible, as studies show that there is a link between drinking sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity in children and adults.
Even when no sugar is added to fruit juice, the ‘unsweetened fruit juice’ is still full of sugar. Natural sugars derived from fruits contain almost as many calories as added refined sugars. This means that those who drink a lot of fruit juice are as much at risk of obesity as those who drink a lot of sugar-sweetened soft drinks.
Natural sugars, which are found in fruits and vegetables, are healthier than refined sugar, but when concentrated, such as in fruit juice, there are more disadvantages than benefits. Not only because they are high in calories, but also because they cause a spike in blood sugar levels and are bad for the teeth. The acids in fruit juice, just like in sugared soft drinks, affect the tooth enamel.
However, fruit juice has some advantages compared to soda. Orange juice in particular still contains a lot of vitamin C. However, the fiber in orange juice is largely lost by the processing. Fibers provide a feeling of satiety and thus reduce appetite. Fruits as a whole thus work better at giving a full feeling than fruit juice. Eating one apple will give you a fuller feeling than drinking a glass of fruit juice, which contains 2 to 3 oranges.
Freshly squeezed fruit juices without added sugars, the more expensive varieties, may be tastier than cheaper brands, but they are not healthier. Fruit juice with added sugars are as unhealthy as soda. With fruit nectar you should therefore pay extra attention, because very often extra sugar is added to it.