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Juice: Weighing the Pros and Cons

posted Jul 9, 2015, 2:05 PM by Julia Quam   [ updated Nov 4, 2015, 12:34 PM ]
Depending on who you ask, juice is a convenient way to get in your daily servings of fruits and vegetables, a sugar-filled drink that’s just as bad for you as soda, or a weight loss superfood. So who’s right?

The answer: it depends.

One 8-ounce cup of 100% fruit juice does count as a cup of fruit (most adults need 1 ½ to 2 cups per day). But the USDA recommends that you get most of your servings of fruit from whole or cut-up fruit rather than juice. That’s because when fruit is turned into juice, much of the fiber is lost.

Fiber has many benefits, including helping to control blood sugar and cholesterol levels, prevent constipation, and promote bowel health. This is why eating a piece of fruit doesn’t cause as big of a blood sugar spike as drinking a glass of juice. Fiber also fills you up faster and may keep you full longer, which can help you manage your weight. Think about it: you are probably much fuller after eating a piece of fruit than you are after drinking a glass of juice.

What about claims that fruit juice is just as bad for you as soda? It’s true that a cup of 100% fruit juice contains about the same amount of calories and sugar as a cup of soda. But juice has an advantage over soda because it contains vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial plant-based compounds called phytochemicals. For example, orange juice is a good source of potassium and vitamin C. The same can’t be said for your favorite soda.

So should you jump on the juicing bandwagon if you want to lose weight? Not so fast. As this article points out, juice in any form is a concentrated source of calories, which may be counterproductive if you’re trying to lose weight. Juice also contains no protein, which is essential for maintaining lean muscle mass and rebuilding tissues, so you certainly don’t want it to be your main source of calories. 

While you don’t necessarily need to avoid juice altogether, you should limit it. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends we limit kids’ juice intake to 4 to 6 ounces per day for children ages 1-6 and 8 to 12 ounces per day for children age 7-18. Adults should try to get most of their servings of fruit from whole or cut-up fruit rather than juice and choose water and unsweetened coffee or tea for most of their beverages. And always, when you choose juice, make sure the label says 100% juice. 

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