“Just why is drinking fruit juice worse than eating the whole fruit? Is it better not to drink at all?”
Yan Yin Phoi, an accredited practising dietitian of The Thoughtful Dietitian answers.
When you drink fruit juices, you obtain benefits from it in the form of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. These substances are involved in many processes in your body that help to strengthen your immune function, improve your eyesight and skin health, and support wound healing, amongst other things. Some may also act as antioxidants to prevent free radical damage and thus slow down the process of aging and the development of diseases such as cancer and heart disease. In that way, fruit juices can be a great source of nutrients, and are often marketed as such by juice companies.
However, when you consume fruit juices, you miss out on another key component of fruits—fibre! Fibre comes from the pulp, and the tough, stringy bits of fruit, and it helps your body in many ways. Fibre helps slow down food digestion, leading to a more gradual release of the natural sugars in fruits into your bloodstream.
In doing so, you have better control of your blood sugar levels, which helps to prevent and manage diabetes. At the same time, since you’re digesting whole fruits at a slower rate than fruit juices, which is simply a liquid, you feel full for longer, which prevents hunger pangs and snacking. If you’re trying to lose weight, this makes munching on a whole fruit a better snack than downing a cup of fruit juice.
Fibre also helps with regular bowel movements and a healthy colon, which keeps colon cancer at bay. Last but not least, most of the fibre in fruit is soluble fibre, which has been scientifically proven to reduce cholesterol levels.
So, my question to you then is, why drink fruit juice when you can eat whole fruit? What’s more, when juicing a fruit, because its fibre is removed, more fruit is required to make a cup of juice. You then end up with more sugar per cup of fruit juice than if you had eaten one whole fruit instead. While your cup of fruit juice is made entirely of natural sugar, it is released into your bloodstream as rapidly as table sugar, which causes spikes in blood sugar levels.
My advice is to choose whole fruit whenever you can. If you prefer to drink rather than eat fruits, try blending the two fruit servings that are recommended every day into a fruit smoothie, pulp and fibre all in!