Although there are more and more those who seek alternatives to typical natural orange juice, in Spain it is still very popular as part of many breakfasts. As several studies have already indicated, the sugar from natural juices, including orange, is not only not as healthy as previously thought, but has been linked to weight gain and the increased risk of cancer, among other damages.
Even so, and although sales of prepared juices seem to have decreased, more and more individuals are preparing these natural drinks at home, seeking to reduce its sugar content as much as possible. However, as natural as they are, they are not healthier.
Despite some nutritional guides suggest that a fruit juice, such as orange juice, can be counted as “a serving of fruit”, within the advice of consuming five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, the reality is that a fruit juice and a whole piece of fruit are not the same.
The juices lack fiber, and in turn concentrate all the free sugar in the fruit. Most of this sugar is fructose, which is absorbed in greater quantity in the form of juice than in the form of a whole piece: to make a natural orange juice you need several pieces of fruit, while consuming a single whole orange would not be so easy.
Some experts have even suggested that this consumption of free fructose in liquid form could hinder the work of the liver, which in turn would increase the risk of various health problems: obesity, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver and a long list of metabolic pathologies.
For its part, it has also been suggested that this free fructose would have the ability to “trick the brain”, increasing hunger, leading to an excessive intake of both liquid fructose and other foods.
One such expert is Robert Lustig, author of Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth About Sugar. According to this obesity expert from the United States, science makes it clear: calorie for calorie, a fruit juice is even worse than a soda.
As Lustig recalls, by getting rid of the insoluble fiber in the fruit after squeezing the fruit, the absorption of fructose is increased. Literally, it indicates, we drink sugar and calories, discarding the nutrients; even the legendary vitamin C, which would be present, but in less quantity than in whole fruit.
For its part, and according to a study published in The BMJ in 2013, the Consuming whole fruits would reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes; on the contrary, the consumption of fruit juices would increase that risk.
Exceptions to the rule
Even so, other experts insist that the consumption of orange juice should not be completely discarded, nor the consumption of fruit juices in general. For many individuals, these juices are an important source of vitamins, as long as they are prepared in a natural way and not commercial juices enriched with more unnecessary sugar.
One of the defenders of its consumption is Dr. Rosalind Miller, a scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation. According to Miller, at least in the UK, the consumption of fruit juices can represent up to 20% of vitamin C consumption in children and 10% in adults. Also, remember, a glass of only 150 ml of orange juice is also an important source of vitamin B9 or folic acid and potassium.
In the Anglo-Saxon country they also argue that only 8.5% of children and 30% of adults actually consume the aforementioned five servings of fruits and vegetables, and that advising against fruit juice can even be counterproductive. In the opinion of some experts, fruit juice would even be a help and not something to avoid.
The trouble, however, it can also be the control of quantities: again, let’s remember, a fruit juice is not a piece of fruit, and it is extremely easy to consume more juice than recommended without realizing it. In fruit, however, given its high fiber composition, overeating is not so easy, but rather the opposite.
Thus, as a final conclusion, it could be said that there are several options: ideal option would be to achieve the consumption of five servings of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis (two fruits and three vegetables, as recently advised by a study of the Harvard University). The less ideal option It would be to consume fruit smoothies, or fruit together with vegetables, natural, homemade, without added external sugar, and prioritizing crushing and blending instead of squeezing it and staying only with the juice.
Finally how worst option, would be the consumption of fruit juice sporadically if possible, avoiding that it is a daily practice. And always remembering that a fruit juice, of any fruit, will never be a substitute for a whole piece of fruit.