The Truth About Juice

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Everybody should eat a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables. These plant foods are rich in fiber, phytonutrients, and antioxidants- all of which are associated with improved health and longevity. Unfortunately, these benefits do not carry over to juice.

When eating fresh fruit, the fiber slows the absorption of the sugars and the nutrients are safely protected within the skins of the fruit. Juicing removes the fruit’s original fiber so the sugars absorb into the blood quickly causing an insulin response, energy spikes and crashes, and calorie storage. Also, pasteurization can destroy many of the fragile antioxidants. Juice, as opposed to fresh fruit, tends to be consumed in larger quantities, more quickly, and has little if any impact on fullness or food intake. In essence, most juice is simply sugar water with a great marketing campaign.

So, while juice may seem like a healthy option, it really has no place in a child’s (or anyone’s) diet. This said, as parents we want to avoid labeling any food as “forbidden”, lest we create a backfire effect. With this in mind, allow children to drink juice occasionally (at a party, on vacation, etc.) and limit the serving size to 4 ounces.

You may be wondering how smoothies fit into the equation. Homemade smoothies made with quality ingredients can be a creative way to sneak plant foods into a child’s diet. Add nutrient dense ingredients like fresh (or frozen) fruit, spinach, Swiss Chard, avocado, nuts, etc. and use unsweetened almond milk or water for the liquid. Avoid adding juice, frozen yogurt, ice cream, sherbet, etc. Leftover smoothie can be poured into popsicle forms. For adults, however, I always recommend eating food as opposed to drinking it. The process of chewing slows and reduces consumption, while improving satiety. In other words, when you chew your food you will consume fewer calories and feel fuller.