What’s Really in Your Juice?
Anytime I’m in the grocery store I love to check out the latest juices. They look so enticing with the juicy fruits and fresh vegetables on the labels, but I always check the nutritional values before buying a new drink. And sometimes I’m surprised by what’s really in my juice. Meridan Zerner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, Registered Dietitian at Cooper Clinic was recently featured on Fox 4 Good Day sharing the facts about popular juices.
Meridan surrounded herself with a myriad of juice drinks and started the conversation by explaining—when choosing juices it all depends on the portion and caloric intake.
Sometimes we see 100% juice or we see the words ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ and think it’s a healthy option. Meridan said, “In reality it’s a glass of high-sugar, high-calorie and low-protein—which is pretty much a recipe for weight gain.”
Liquid calories are really the no. 1 contributor to weight gain in everything we take in as a nation.
Meridan presented a bottle of 100% juice labeled “citrus mango pineapple,” and explained that the no. 1 ingredient is apple juice, which is an inexpensive filler. There is minimal nutrient value in apple juice and it can result in cavities and weight gain.
You would think the 100% juice would be a healthier option, but it’s not if it’s filled with high fructose corn syrup. In the average bottle of 100% orange juice that you can buy in the airport or local convenient store there can be up to the equivalent of 22 sugar cubes. After drinking this bottle, you won’t feel full and you may crave more in calories later in the day.
We give kids packaged drinks in their lunch boxes, that aren’t really juice to begin with. If you read the ingredients, you can see they contain a lot of water and high fructose corn syrup. For example, a Capri Sun® contains the equivalent of eight sugar cubes. And the nutritional value of cranberry apple raspberry juice is not much better. Apple juice is again the no. 1 ingredient, and a glass contains the equivalent of 28 sugar cubes.
Fruit & Veggie Juices
Juices like Naked Juice® are everywhere with other popular juices in the refrigerated section of grocery stores. When you see these you think—that has to be healthy, it looks very organic. Yet even in one of these bottles featuring berries on the label, the no. 1 ingredient is—you guessed it, apple juice.
“When it’s all said and done if you’re somebody who’s never going to eat a fruit or vegetable, I would suggest a very small serving of this, otherwise you’re likely to gain weight. Of course if you need help adding fruits and vegetable to your diet a Cooper dietitian can help out.” And adding real fruits and vegetables has an added benefit—real fiber which can help with digestion.
Meridan demonstrated a common pour for a juice glass and compared it to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended four ounces a day for kids. “When we look at the amount kids are drinking you can see it’s really contributing to ill health and weight gain,” Meridan said. “If I could go from the standard American juice glass to the recommended four ounces a day, you could lose 10 pounds in a year! That is without dieting or exercise! That’s powerful.”
This is always your healthiest option. It is very important, especially in the summer heat to stay hydrated. Every cell in the human body requires water to function properly. When we don’t drink enough water, the cells begin to lose their function. Always keep a bottle or glass handy as you’re going about your daily routine.
The bottom line on juices—moderation is key. For more health tips from dietitians at Cooper Clinic, visit our website.