It is a very common practice among the health enthusiasts to have a glass of fruit juice with their breakfast. But is the fruit juice as healthy as it seems to be? Let’s find out. Let’s take the example of the classic orange juice and its fruit counterpart to understand the difference.
Nutritional value of one glass (250 ml) orange juice:
- Calories: 110
- Protein: 2 grams
- Carbs: 25.5 grams
- Vitamin C: 137% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Folate: 11% of the RDI
- Potassium: 14% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 6-7% of the RDI
- Fiber: 0.5 grams
This profile looks amazing, and yes it is. But if you compare it with the fruit, you might not feel the same way. Below is the comparison between a single orange and one glass orange juice (which obviously needs 2-3 oranges depending on the size)
|Orange juice||Fresh orange|
|Fat||0 grams||0 grams|
|Carbs||25.5 grams||15 grams|
|Fiber||0.5 grams||3 grams|
|Protein||2 grams||1 gram|
|Vitamin A||4% of the RDI||6% of the RDI|
|Vitamin C||137% of the RDI||116% of the RDI|
|Thiamine||18% of the RDI||8% of the RDI|
|Vitamin B6||7% of the RDI||4% of the RDI|
|Folate||11% of the RDI||10% of the RDI|
|Calcium||2% of the RDI||5% of the RDI|
|Magnesium||7% of the RDI||3% of the RDI|
|Potassium||14% of the RDI||7% of the RDI|
Conclusions drawn on the basis of the profile are: Fruits have more fiber content, along with all the required vitamins and minerals.
Why is the fiber in the fruits so important:
- Fiber helps you feel fuller for a longer time, reducing your overall calorie consumption.
- Fiber helps in the controlled release of the fruit sugars: When you eat the whole fruit, the digestive system takes time to extract the fructose from the pulp. This leads to its gradual release from the system into the liver. And this slow loading up helps liver metabolize it the right way. Now, a very interesting thing to note here is, that only the liver is capable of breaking down fructose. When you have juice instead of the fruit, there is a sudden spike of the fructose levels and the liver is unable to process so much. Now, this excess quantity is converted to fat. This cycle of fructose to fat is not a desirable one.
- A huge chunk of antioxidants are present in the fiber and also the skin for some fruits, and when you strip juice the fruit of its fiber, you take off the nutritional value too.
- Fiber makes your body realize the intake of calories. Meaning, when you consume a whole fruit the body registers that some calories have come in. Whereas, the liquid calories go unnoticed and the body will crave more even after the requirement has been met.
Also, the juicing process can generate heat which can destroy the nutrients and the useful enzymes present in the fruits.
Coming to packed juices, they are another ballgame altogether. Not only is its nutritional value questionable, but there is an addition of other substances. The additives technically fall in the category of natural flavoring agents but are far from being anything healthy. Also, the time from the extraction of the juice to its consumption is long enough for all the goodness to disappear. This would leave you with nothing but empty calories.
So if you get a chance to choose between fruits and fruit juices, choose whole fruits, like always!