In recent years, people have replaced soda with fruit juice and smoothies under the premise they’re a healthier replacement. Soda consumption has dropped globally by 9%, over the last 10 years, but obesity rose during that same time by 15%.
That increase in obesity is said to be caused partially by the increased consumption of fruit juice and smoothies. But how can that be? Aren’t they made from all natural ingredients?
While most fruit juice and smoothies do contain natural fruit, the problem comes from the processing, packaging and the promotion of the product.
Juicing removes almost all of the fiber and many of the nutrients that you get by eating the whole fruit. While most people would be satisfied eating an orange or two, a smoothie can have the sugar of six oranges! Plus that same smoothie is without the majority of fiber that keeps you full for a longer time. So, after drinking your smoothie, you start looking for something to eat an hour or two later.
As with many foods, when we buy a packaged product, most of us think it is one serving, but you have to look at the nutritional label to be sure. In the case of fruit juices and smoothies, there can be two servings in a bottle. So if you drink the whole thing, which is the common thing to do, you have ingested twice the calories and twice the sugar.
Companies are deceptive in their advertising. For example one company states their 8 ounce orange smoothies “are made entirely from fruit and therefore contain the same amount of sugars as the whole fruit”. But if you look at the label, it has 29 grams of sugar! Compare that to the nutritional label of an eight ounce serving of orange juice and it lists sugar as 19.05 grams. So, where did the other 10 grams of sugar come from?
A couple better alternatives to fruit juice and smoothies are to either eat unprocessed fruit or freshly squeezed juice, or smoothies made from vegetable juice. Real fruit in its natural state has all the fiber and nutrients, and you know what you are getting; no hidden ingredients. Smoothies or juice made from vegetables have far less sugar than ones made from fruit, so you are getting fewer calories per equal serving and without blood sugar spiking.
Drinking juice and smoothies can be healthy if you select the right products or make your own drinks so you know what is in them.