Here’s What You Need to Know:
- Fruit juices are generally perceived as healthy by most people.
- Parents often choose fruit juices over whole fruits for their kids to get their daily fruit intake.
- Fruit juices and whole fruits are thought as being the same but this isn’t true. Fruit juice consumption in excess can negatively affect your health.
- Fruit juices lack fibre which contains antioxidants and feed beneficial bacteria in your gut. When you juicing you lose the fibre.
- Most commercial fruit juices contain added sugars, artificial colourants, flavourants and preservatives and should be consumed sparingly.
- Consume fresh whole fruits or blend the fruits so that you don’t lose the fibre.
The juicing of fruits is perceived as a healthy practice by consumers.
Most of us have felt tempted by the juicer infomercials that make juice making seem effortless, easier to get your kids to consume than whole fruits.
Proponents of juicing even go as far as saying that juicing unlocks the vitamins and minerals in the fruits.
Commercial fruit juices are very common as well. The latter eliminate the hassle of having to make the juice yourself and are almost always more delicious and attractive as home-made ones, don’t spoil as easily and often contain added vitamins.
Overall, fruit juices are perceived as being healthy.
Scientific studies, however, paint a different picture.
It has been found that a higher consumption of specific whole fruits, particularly blueberries, grapes, and apples, decreases your risk of getting type 2 diabetes, whereas greater consumption of fruit juice is associated with a higher risk (1).
A recent study reported that replacing blueberry juice with an equal amount of whole blueberries decreases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by an astounding 33% (1).
What people fail to realise is that juicing isn’t a healthy practice.
The truth is that juicing eliminates a lot of the stuff that makes whole fruits healthy and alters the health properties of the latter.
What Makes Juices Less Healthy?
The main issue with juicing is the loss of the dietary fibre contained in fruits. This is the pulp that comes out on the other side of the juicing machine and that is often thrown away.
Dietary fibre is essential for reap the complete benefits of fruits. In fact, the consumption of fibre from fruits and other sources has been linked to health benefits like reduced coronary heart disease risk (5) and colorectal cancers (6).
It has been found that just a 10g/ day increase in fibre consumption can decrease the risk of all coronary events by 14%.
In a study at the University of Copenhagen (7), healthy people who ate 550g of whole apples a day (about 3 medium apples) for 4 weeks had their LDL (bad) cholesterol reduced by 6.7%. When the same people had 500ml of clear apple juice instead their LDL-cholesterol increased by an amazing 6.9%.
When they drank 500ml/ day of juice with a bit of the fibre added back (cloudy juice) their LDL-cholesterol increased by only 2.2%.
Obviously, fibre has a role to play in this.
Clearly, we need to rethink the notion that fibre is the indigestible material that just keeps you regular!
Fibre contains important antioxidants
Fruits have long been known to contain a class of nutrients called polyphenols.
Polyphenols are known to contribute to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, cancers, osteoporosis and diabetes mellitus (8)
The surprising fact is that most of the polyphenols found in fruits are bound to dietary fibre.
These are known as non-extractable polyphenols (NEPPs). NEPPs have potential health-related properties, in particular in relation to gastrointestinal health, such as a reduction of intestinal tumor generation (9)
NEPPs are released from the fibre by the action of intestinal bacteria. Juicing fruits means that a lot of these antioxidants are lost.
Fibre feeds beneficial bacteria in your gut
Fibre is used as a source of food for bacteria preset in your intestines.
For example, intestinal bacteria ferment fibre to make short chain fatty acids like Butyrate (10). Butyrate is a source of fuel for cells that line our colon.
In other words, we feed them (intestinal bacteria) and they feed us in return.
The bacteria also thank us for feeding them fibre by fighting off harmful bacteria and improving mineral absorption (e.g. Calcium).
Other Reasons to choose Whole Fruits
Whole fruits are more filling than fruit juices and thus is is easier to over drink and ingest a lot of sugar in the process.
The fibre in whole fruits also slows down the release of sugar into the bloodstream. With fruit juice, massive amounts hit the bloodstream rapidly.
► Eat whole fruits and encourage your kids to do so.
► Choose blending over juicing. With blending you keep the fibre and there are many ways to make fruit blending fun, one of them is to make fruit smoothies.
► Consume moderately: small amounts of fruit juice are not likely to cause major problems if you are healthy, active and lean. However, they can be a disaster for people who are overweight or have diet-related metabolic problems.