What you don’t know about fruit juice

by Mary C. Weaver, CSCS on June 15, 2012

skip the juice--eat whole fruit insteadIt’s a warm, humid night, and I’m refreshing my post-choir-rehearsal throat with a frosty Corona. I made sure it would be frosty by calling my husband as I left the church to say, “Put a beer in the freezer for me!”

I could have chosen a light beer to save a few calories, but since I’m having just one, I went for flavor. The calorie cost? 148.

Liquid calories add up–and fast. The tricky thing is that many beverages provide plenty of calories (well, except for water, unsweetened tea, and black coffee) but no sensation of fullness.

And did you know that the biggest single source of calories in the American diet is sugar-sweetened soda? Yikes!

You’re a fit chick, so you already know that drinking sugary pop is one of the quickest ways to put on weight.

But did you know that fruit juice is actually higher in calories (and often higher in sugar) than soda?

Lots and lots of sugar

We tend to think of fruit juice as healthy food, and it’s true that liquefied fruit, especially if it’s fresh, is full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

But if you’re watching your intake, fruit juice should probably be one of the first things you cut. Here’s why.

A serving of juice has a lot more calories, more sugar, and less fiber than a serving of whole fruit*. Here’s an example:

Florida orange, 150 grams raw orange juice, 1 cup
calories 69 112
carbohydrate 17.4 grams 25.8 grams
sugar 13.8 grams 20.8 grams
fiber 3.6 grams .5 grams


Following is an even more dramatic example–grapes and grape juice:

grapes, raw, 1 cup grape juice, unsweetened, 1 cup
calories 67 152
carbohydrate 17.2 grams 37.4 grams
sugar 16.3 grams 36 grams grams
fiber .9 grams .5 grams


For the sake of comparison, you should know that one cup (eight ounces) of Coke has 91 calories, 23.5 grams of carbohydrate, and 22 grams of sugar.

Also, whole fruit helps fill you up; juice doesn’t. It takes you longer to eat a piece of fruit than to drink a glass of juice, and that alone helps increase its satiety value, its ability to fill you up.

I’m not saying you should never enjoy a glass of OJ–just that you should be aware of how much sugar it provides and how many calories it costs you. And if you’re trimming calories from your diet, juice is a great place to start.

So what do you think? Is juice an indispensable part of your day or an indulgence you enjoy on rare occasions?

* All calorie counts and other nutritional stats come from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

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