Fruit Juice Vs Soda: Health Risks
When it comes to choosing between sodas and ‘natural’ fruit juices in the beverage aisle, the juice industry has always enjoyed the reputation of being way healthier.
The reasons are familiar. Juice comes from real fruit, while soda is artificially prepared. Also, the sugars in juice seem more ‘natural’ than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the main sweetener in many sodas.
However, a study published recently shows that on average, fruit juice has a fructose concentration of about 45.5 grams per liter - that’s only slightly less than the average of 50 grams per liter for sodas.
In fact, some juices contain more sugar per liter than most sodas!
A recent study conducted at the Childhood Obesity Research Center at the University of Southern California decided to measure fructose concentrations in juices and sodas, because a growing body of evidence suggests fructose is riskier for health than glucose.
According to the study authors, our body isn't designed to process fructose at such high levels. Unlike glucose, which serves as a natural fuel for the body, fructose is processed almost entirely in the liver where it is converted to fat - increasing the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver disease.
The presence of HFCS in soda and food has become a focal point for researchers and public health advocates in recent years. However, there's been less attention on the link between fruit juice and obesity and diabetes - even though it's hard to imagine why juices wouldn't be as harmful as sodas if they're delivering the same amount of sugar.
Consuming fructose from whole fruit is a different story. That fructose comes with fiber, which slows down and reduces it’s absorption into the body, somewhat reducing the negative effects of fructose metabolism on our health.
Long-term studies carried out in Singapore, Australia, the US and Europe clearly show that 100 percent fruit juice is as bad as sugar-sweetened beverages for its effects on our health - for instance, every long-term study shows that 100 percent fruit juice intake raises diabetes risk significantly.
So what’s a juice lover to do with so many sweet juice products on the market?
Some beverage makers are now starting to cut the sugar. Another option is to dilute the juice you buy at the store with at least 50 percent water or even more, according to your personal taste.