Is fruit juice shortening your life?

orange juice sugar risk

Ah…a cold glass of orange juice, first thing in the morning. Gives you energy, vitamin C and zest to start the day. Right? Is that glass of juice really good for you?

Maybe. What’s for sure is that juice gives you lots and lots of sugar. To start with, the vitamin C content in orange juice is over-rated. Cup for cup, broccoli, kale and red bell peppers have more vitamin C. And when you eat those vegetables, you’re not getting a heavy dose of sugar that goes straight into your bloodstream. Which is what you get when you drink juice. (You can make your own juice anytime!)

According to American obesity expert Robert Lustig and author of Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth about Sugar, juice is pretty much just sugar. (See our post with a video interview of Dr. Lustig here) Without fruit fiber, which slows down the body’s absorption of fructose, that sugar goes directly into the bloodstream, stopping at an overloaded liver. It increases blood sugar levels as soda does, and like soda, puts weight on you.

Another danger lurking in the sweet fluid is inflammation of the arteries and joints.Sudden exposure to the acidic sugars in juice may irritate and inflame arteries, leading to chronic arterial disease. My herbology teacher taught  the class that people with arthritis should avoid orange and grapefruit juice because citrus causes joint inflammation. The only exception is lemon juice, which is actually beneficial to sore joints. But don’t stir spoonfuls of sugar into your lemonade – plain cold water with the juice of half a lemon is tasty and refreshing all by itself.

Freshly-squeezed juice is naturally better than the kind that comes in cartons, bottles or cans. Those have been pasteurised, which is necessary for safety in large-scale production, but  destroys the fruit’s beneficial enzymes, vitamins and minerals.

Take a close look at the photo at the top of this post. To get a large glass of juice, how many oranges must you squeeze? Eating one orange fills you up and gives you a similar satisfaction to drinking a glass containing the juice – and sugar – of four oranges. So what’s the smarter choice?

Lustig’s advice is simple: eat your fruit, don’t drink it. But if you just can’t get your day started  without juice, squeeze your own. Add back some of the pulp that remains from juicing. Drink only a small glass, after having eaten breakfast.

Most of us don’t drink enough water anyway. Now’s the time to consciously fill up our glasses with H2O.

More on choices we make with our drinks:

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