Fruit Juices and Sugar Consumption

Sugars include all simple carbohydrates, monosaccharides and disaccharides which occur naturally in a food as well as those added during production. The simple sugars contained in whole fruit, and fruit juices, are mostly fructose but also include glucose and sucrose. The sugars in 100% fruit juices always come directly from the fruits that have been juiced, and are never added.  Accordingly, the World Health Organisation (WHO) takes account of those natural sugars contained in fruit juices in the “free sugars” category, and recommends restricting the consumption of free sugars to no more than 10% of daily energy (equivalent to about 50g per day in a 2,000 calorie diet).

Sugar in 100% fruit juice 
100% fruit juices never contain “added” sugars and flavours, and preservatives, nor can manufacturers legally reduce the sugar contents of 100% fruit juice. Fruit juices contain fructose to a highly variable extent as they are more or less equivalent to the corresponding fruit. Juices extracted from fruits with higher sugar content contain more sugar than juices obtained from less sugary fruits, comparing pineapple to apple juice for example.     

100% fruit juice and effects on health 
In a moderate consumption of 100% fruit juice, the amounts of simple sugars are far lower than the levels considered to impact adverse effects on health. Most often the biggest amount of sugar in the diet tends to come from sweetened processed products such as cakes, sweets, chocolates, puddings/desserts and sugar added beverages. As a matter of fact, evidence shows some favourable effects of fruit juices on lipid profile and blood pressure. In the area of a link between 100% fruit juices and obesity and diabetes, there is little evidence of an increased risk if consumed moderately (150-200ml daily) and part of a balanced and varied diet. The few obtainable studies regarding the possible effects on cardiovascular and cancer risk submit a neutral impact. With regard to dental decay, there is no major evidence of a link with the consumption of fruit or 100% fruit juice, except when related to feeding bottles in early childhood. In a methodical review of the evidence, there exists no reliable evidence for a negative impact of 100% fruit juice on health, including body weight, weight gain, cardiovascular disease and risk of type 2 diabetes.

Goodness of 100% Juice
Juice is an important source of nutrients for many people. 100% fruit juice makes a valuable contribution to your daily intake of vitamin C. A 150ml glass of pure unsweetened orange juice is also a good source of folate and potassium. It is a difficult task for children, and harder for adults, to eat the five recommended portions of fruit a day.  The sugar scare is overshadowing the positive contribution that fruit juice makes to the nation’s health. A sensible dietary advice is to encourage everyone, particularly those finding it difficult to reach 5-a-day fruit portion, to drink a small glass of pure fruit juice each day. However, a key problem with fruit juice consumption is portion control. It is easy to drink one litre of juice to quench thirst rather than see it as nectar of health to be savoured.

If kept within the moderate intake suggested in dietary guidelines of a daily balanced diet, 100% fruit juices are not a significant contributor to high sugar intakes. Simple sugars in fruit juices release energy slowly than processed sugars so it is a better option.  So do not hesitate to take a shot of 100% fruit juice goodness. But keep in mind that with everything in life moderation is crucial, even for the good things.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons


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