Your daily juice

Posted on March 3, 2015 by Brynna Gabrielson

Orange JuiceIf a can of cola and a glass of apple juice were placed in front of you, which of the two would you assume contains the most sugar? If you guessed the cola, you might be right. But only by a slight fraction. Recent studies have revealed that fruit juices like apple or orange juice contain nearly as much sugar, if not more, than popular fizzy drinks1, which contain approximately 10.6g per 100ml2.

Despite its high sugar content, the government still recommends juice as one of our five a day. However they limit the daily serving to just 150ml and any consumption above that doesn¿t count as an additional portion of fruit3.  When considering how much liquid an individual drinks in a typical serving, 150ml is quite a small amount and it¿s likely that many of us drinking juice are exceeding this. Most individually portioned bottles of juice found in shop fridges are at least 300ml and contain 30 grams of sugar3. This amount is staggering when you consider that the World Health Organisation (WHO) currently recommends we receive no more than 10% of our daily energy intake from added or free sugars. This equates to about 50g per day, though the WHO are looking to slash this in half to a 5% daily target of 25g per day4.

With juice often being thought of a healthy drink, it's hard to fathom that the opposite could be true. Certainly juice isn't as bad as a fizzy drink when compared side by side, after all juices still contain nutrients from their parent fruit. But sugar is sugar, no matter where it comes from. And it's important to not assume that just because it's coming from fruit that it's healthy and won't impact our blood sugar levels or waistlines. This doesn't mean that fruit itself is bad for us. There is a difference between eating a piece of fruit and drinking a glass of juice. First of all, we must consider the gap between the two in sugar content. Just one litre of orange juice can take up to 15 oranges to produce5. That means a typical individual portioned bottle of orange juice (300 ml) found in grocery shops would contain the equivalent of nearly 5 oranges worth of sugar!

Another important factor is that the way our bodies absorb sugar when eating fruit compared to drinking juice is different. When we eat a piece of fruit, the sugar within it is balanced out by the nutrients and fibre also present. The fibre is important as it slows the absorption of fructose into our bloodstreams6. Unfortunately when juice is made the fibre is lost, and the fructose becomes a 'free sugar'.  When we consume these sugars they are absorbed into our bodies much quicker - spiking our blood sugar and contributing to weight gain and issues such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

So the next time you're trying to decide what beverage to buy, remember that sugar content isn't just a problem in fizzy drinks. Drinking water or unsweetened tea is probably your best option in keeping sugar out of your beverages, but if you aren't ready to give up your daily glass of juice then keep your servings small and remember to be aware of how much sugar you're putting in your body.