Juicy Juice and Capri Sun boxes were some of my favorites growing up. Most kids love a big glass or two of juice in the morning…and throughout the day.
Many will argue that it’s a better choice than soda, it’s 100% fruit juice!, no added sugar!, but is it really a healthy way to start your day?
Not really. Skip the juice. Eat the real, juicy fruit instead.
First off, juice will spike your blood sugar, to a similar effect of soda.
Your body does not differentiate if it’s getting sugar from soda or juice. All it knows is that there’s a pure, straight-shot of sugar (glucose + fructose) heading for your liver and blood. It will react by either quickly using it up, or storing it as fat. The last thing your body wants is an excess amount of sugar floating around your blood to damage your cells. If you remember from this article, drinking the juice will leave you hungry soon after and on the blood sugar rollercoaster.
Secondly, juicing removes all the fiber and starches to help buffer your blood sugar to prevent that extreme spike. Fruit has fiber in it, and you will likely only eat 1 serving of fruit at a time.
It would be pretty hard to eat 3.5 apples, 1/2 banana, 5 blackberries, 4 raspberries, and 4 strawberries found in this Naked Juice in a sitting. It’s a lot easier to chug a juice down in minutes without any fiber present.
It also takes a whole lot more chewing and time to eat all that fruit compared to minutes to drink a juice. Liquid calories can provide a hefty dose of sugar in a short amount of time, and our body will still be hungry afterwards.
To compare a 12 oz Odwalla Juice Smoothie to 12 oz of Pepsi, the Pepsi contains 41 g of sugar, and the juice contains 43 g of sugar. The 3 g of protein and 1 g of fiber in the juice is not going to make a big effect. To put this in perspective, would you eat ~11 tsp of sugar (about 4g per tsp)?
Lastly, there has been pretty high levels of arsenic found in apple juice recently. Arsenic damages brain development in children.
I would recommend skipping juice, except for a once-in-a-while special occasion, such as a Saturday morning brunch.
1.) Eat the fruit! 1-2 servings of fresh fruit per day is highly recommended and will provide you with fiber and tons of nutrients. Eat the fruit with meals or snacks that also have protein to help with blood sugar control. Try berries with greek yogurt or kefir, an apple with almond butter, or grapes and cheese for a satisfying snack.
2.) Choose other beverages. Drink coffee or tea in the morning (without sweetener, or you’re just drinking sugar again…). Start your day with a glass of water with fresh lemon and ginger. Try kombucha, which is a fermented tea full of probiotics. It comes in a variety of flavors that provide just a touch of sweeteness, but the sugar content is minimal because the bacteria eat the sugar up. Or stick to the best choice – water.
3.) Juice vegetables for vegetable juice. Vegetables have minimal sugar content, so juicing vegetables will provide nutrients without the large blood sugar spike. Homemade smoothies with the whole fruit and a source of protein, such as greek yogurt, kefir, or almond butter, is also a good treat or after-workout choice. Keep the fruit in it to 1 serving.
4.) If you still choose to drink juice, limit it to a max of one 8 oz glass (1 cup) of 100% juice. Children should have no more than 4-6 oz juice per day. This means 1 measuring cup of juice, not one large glass. You could also mix it half with water to dilute it.
What’s your beverage of choice in the morning?