I have a glass of juice every morning with my breakfast.
That’s healthy, right?
It’s 100% juice!
I hear this quite a bit and understandably so – manufacturers make you think your favorite glass of juice is just as good as eating the actual fruit. True? Nope. In fact, recent study findings published in the journal, The BJM, found an association between consuming sugary beverages – which included 100% fruit juice – and incidence of both overall cancer and breast cancer.
Surprised? Maybe not when you think about sugary drinks like soda.
So what’s up with the juice?
Well, these beverages contain simple sugars…and a lot of them. In drinks like soda, sweet tea, and even hot chocolate, we know the sugar is added. In 100% fruit juice the sweetness comes from natural sugar, but you are missing one important element – fiber (plus other added bonuses like naturally occurring vitamins, minerals and antioxidants). In addition, that glass of juice contains so much more simple sugar compared to a single serving of whole fruit.
What does this mean for our health?
Well, we know frequent consumption of sugary beverages – no matter the source – increases a person’s risk for obesity, especially in the abdominal area. This alone is a strong risk factor for cancer. In addition, these simple sugars (particularly in large quantities) can be inflammatory and have a high glycemic index, i.e. cause a rapid rise in blood glucose. This is also associated with an increased cancer risk.
So what can you do to help yourself?
First, significantly limit how often you consume any sugary beverages. If you crave a glass of juice, save it for a special occasion or for your favorite brunch spot. Otherwise, reach for the whole orange, apple or even handful of grapes. Not only are they delicious and refreshing, they’re packed with fiber, anti-inflammatory nutrients and are MUCH lower in simple sugar. It’s a win-win!
Second, get back to basics. Water should be what we consume most during the day. And when water gets boring (because I know after a while I need some flair in my H2O), turn to these natural ways to both flavor your water and stay hydrated.
For more info about added and processed sugars, including how to reduce your intake, check out: The Truth About Added Sugars and Sweeteners.
So next time you are at a crossroads leave the juice, take the orange, and enjoy.
Erin Pellegrin RD, LDN