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Though juice is enjoyed around the world, it’s a controversial beverage.
When it comes to its healthiness, many people are divided. Some argue that it’s too high in sugar, while others champion its high nutrient content.
At first glance, it is reasonable to think that juice has health benefits. Whole fruit is healthy, and juice comes from fruit, so it must be healthy, too. But when you make juice, you leave some of the most wholesome parts of the fruit behind. The skin on an apple, the seeds in raspberries and the membranes that hold orange segments together — they are all good for you. That is where most of the fiber, as well as many of the antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals are hiding. Fiber is good for your gut; it fills you up and slows the absorption of the sugars you eat, resulting in smaller spikes in insulin. When your body can no longer keep up with your need for insulin, Type 2 diabetes can develop.
Finally, when you drink your calories instead of eating them, your brain doesn’t get the same “I’m full” signal that it does from solid food, even though you wind up consuming far more calories in the process. Whereas an orange may contain 45 calories, an eight-ounce glass of orange juice contains 110 calories, and a large kale, banana and orange juice blend at a leading juice chain contains 380 calories. In addition, you might feel full immediately after drinking a glass of juice or a fresh smoothie, but that sensation goes away quickly as the liquid quickly empties out of your stomach, and many of those calories you just drank don’t get counted in your body’s internal calorie counter contributing to that bulging waistline the gym was supposed to help fix. When researchers gave adults an apple to eat — either as a whole fruit, fresh applesauce, apple juice or apple juice with the fiber added back — followed 15 minutes later by a meal, on the day they ate the apple, they ate fewer calories at the meal than if they consumed the same number of calories from applesauce or apple juice. The chewing really counts.
Our perception of juice needs a radical makeover, starting with our kids. Juice comes in easy, single-serving, shelf-stable packages that parents don’t hesitate to give to kids anywhere. Yet children don’t need juice for nutritional purposes, and most juice boxes contain more than the 4-to-6-ounce maximum recommended for daily consumption by kids under 6. In fact, kids who drink juice regularly are shorter and heavier than those who rarely drink juice, probably because they consume less milk, something young children do need for healthy growth.