“Apple juice is worse for you than soda,” I declared on social media a while ago, unleashing a torrent of comments that I was being sensationalistic or overstating my case. Others expressed confusion about why fruit juice, which often parades around in grocery stores with an undeserved health halo, could really be so bad.
Consider the difference between a carrot and carrot juice, an orange and orange juice. You wouldn’t sit down and eat four oranges, but you could easily consume that amount in a glass of OJ.
When you turn fruit into juice, you basically unwrap it from its ﬁber and set it free to give you a big sugar hit, fast. Don’t you think the sugar in the juices will have a slightly different impact on your system than the whole food? Of course it will!
Let's look at the numbers. A 12-ounce glass of apple juice contains 39 grams or almost 8 teaspoons of sugar. A 12-ounce can of cola, by contrast, contains 33 grams (6.6 teaspoons) of sugar.
You’re not just getting more overall sugar in that glass of apple juice than you would a cola; you’re also getting more fructose. Whereas high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) sweetened sodas are about 55% fructose, fruit juices are almost pure liquid fructose bombs. That’s one reason juices are worse for you than full-sugar sodas.
Once you drink that soda, the fructose races to your liver, and what little glucose it contains instantly spikes your blood sugar and insulin. I’ve discussed elsewhere how fructose especially becomes a troublemaker, wrecking major metabolic havoc. Altogether, it's bad news for your liver and your blood sugar levels.
But wait, you say: Even though that fruit juice contains more fructose than a soda, fruit contains naturally occurring fructose. How bad could it really be?
Sugar aside, with its healthy aura you’re more likely to guzzle second or third glasses of apple juice, whereas you would think twice about reaching for more cola.Click to tweet
Yes, fructose naturally occurs in fruit and some vegetables, where it comes wrapped up in ﬁber and bundled with nutrients. When fructose is delivered to us that way, things change for the better— our digestion slows down, we burn some energy extracting the fructose, and fructose moseys to our liver in a steady stream rather than a torrent.
Now, many fruits have more fructose than glucose, and some have even more than others. Plums have less than half as much, but apples and pears have significantly more fructose than glucose— in fact, twice as much.
That doesn't really become a problem until we juice that fruit, which strips away fiber and many of the fruit’s nutrients. An apple is medium-sugar impact, but juice it – strip its fiber and nutrients – and it becomes a high-sugar impact fructose bomb.
When fructose is freewheeling, or separated from its ﬁber source, it might as well be taking a laundry chute-like plunge to our liver, where its idea of a party is to start making fat, increasing inflammation, and all of fructose’s other havoc.
Sugar aside, with its healthy aura you’re more likely to guzzle second or third glasses of apple juice, whereas you would think twice about reaching for more cola.
Oh, and emphatically no, that does not give you permission to choose the “lesser of evils” and go with cola. For lasting fat loss and optimal health, both beverages should become permanently banned.
Look, I understand how confusing and even frustrating this can become. When you learn how supposedly healthy foods and drinks like apple juice and fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt actually contain sneaky sugars that could sabotage your health and weight loss, you begin to wonder where else these hidden sugars lurk.
In the meantime, let's expose some other so-called healthy foods and drinks that are actually unhealthy. What's your top contender? Share it below. I'd love to hear from you.