Even if they enjoy a healthy and natural image, fruit juices are to be consumed in moderation. They are indeed far from being as “healthy” as you may think—the lighting of dietician-nutritionist Florence Rossi, AFDN spokesperson.
Is Juicing Actually Good For You?
Fruit juice, as bad as sodas?
They sit first on the breakfast table, often accompany the children’s snack, are an option for non-alcoholic aperitifs… Fruit juices are part of the daily life of the French, who love them. They ingest 1.5 billion litres of juice each year (or 22 litres per capita), making them the second-largest consumers in Europe, behind the Germans. The French are distinguished by their attraction toso-called “high-end” juices: 100% pure juice (61% of the market in 2016)1.
Choose your fruit juice well
A hypermarket in France lists an average of 194 fruit juice references2. There’s enough to lose his Latin! Added water, sugar… There are real differences in fruit juice categories. French regulations distinguish four:
- The 100% pure juice is obtained by simply pressing the fruit. There is no added water, no sugars, no additives, just fruit. They are usually in the cool radius and in this case, have a concise shelf-life date.
- Concentrate-based juices are obtained by extracting juice that is concentrated by evaporation and reconstituted with water. As with pure juices, regulations prohibit the addition of sugar to concentrate-based juices.
- Nectars are a mixture of fruit juice and/or juice based on concentrate and/or fruit puree to which water, sugar and/or sweeteners are added. The minimum fruit content in nectars should be 25% and 50% depending on the fruit variety. Unfiltered nectars are rich in fibre.
- Fruit-based smoothies, new entrants to the fruit juice market, are experiencing some success, especially in restaurant chains. They are made from mixed fruits to which water, fruit juice and sugar can be added. There are also recipes mixing fruits and vegetables.
In France, the formulation of fruit juices is framed. Manufacturers can add to the recipes their pure juices, nectars and concentrates: vitamins and minerals, pulp, lemon juice, sugar (only for nectars). Preservatives and dyes are not allowed. Recipes that do not comply with this regulation cannot be called “fruit juice” and then fall into the “fruit juice-based beverage” box.
Fruit juice: their health effects
After benefiting from a healthy image, having been sold as products full of vitamins, antioxidants, detox… Fruit juices are now being pointed at, suspected of promoting overweight and obesity. Contrary to popular belief, from a nutritional point of view, a glass of fruit juice does not correspond to fruit, as Florence Rossi, a dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the French Association of Dietitians Nutritionists, explains: “A glass of juice does not correspond to a single fruit. For example, to make a glass of orange juice, it takes at least 2 or 3 oranges. In a 250 or even 300 ml glass, the portion is, therefore, more caloric and sweeter than if you had eaten a fruit. Not to mention that fruit juices contain less fibre and fewer vitamins.”
The portions consumed are also a problem because it is more difficult to control what is consumed in the liquid version, and the feeling of satiety is less important than with whole fruit. The result is that the fibres (important for transit, digestion, satiety) are crushed during the extraction process and are found in much smaller quantities in the final juice. For example, a whole orange contains 2.2g of fibre per 100g compared to 0.28g in 100g of pure juice3about 8 times less. “Insmoothies, there is a little more fibre than in a conventional juice, but it is always mixed fibres that have nothing to do with the pure fibres of the fruit,” continues the professional.
Another loss during the extraction process is vitamins, including vitamin C, which rapidly oxidises contact with air and light. “If the juice is freshly squeezed, we keep some vitamins,” explains Florence Rossi, beyond that, pasteurization helps to limit the breakage. This increases from 57 mg/100 g of vitamin C in orange to 37 mg/100 g in pure orange juice. This is why some manufacturers add vitamins to their recipes to regain the initial content before pressing. The mention“A guaranteed vitamin content” is an indication of the addition of vitamins.
Fruit juice, as bad as sodas?
But the real problem with fruit juices is their sugar content (fructose for 100% pure juice and concentrate- fructose, glucose and sucrose for nectars and smoothies). “For100 ml, a juice or smoothie is 40/60 kcal, which is pretty close to the caloric value of a fruit,” explains the dietician. “The problem is that we always drink more than 100 ml. The juices are liquid, and they drink themselves; we do not realize the amount consumed.” A glass of juice turns about 250 ml, and it is not uncommon to consume more than one, with the risk of having his daily sugar intake explode. On average, a 250 ml glass of 100% pure orange juice contains 20 g of sugar, or 4 pieces of sugar, which is almost the limit of “free sugars”3 recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is 25 g. And the addition can quickly increase as long as you consume smoothies and nectars that contain added sugars. A smoothie glass can quickly reach 29 g of sugar or more than a glass of coca (25.5 g), even if the quality of the sugar is not quite the same as for the juices.
The dietician also points to another drawback: “In liquid form, the glycemic index is higher than that of the whole fruit, due in particular to the lower amount of fibre. Fruit juices are more hyperglycemic than fruit. They stimulate insulin secretion and thus, fat storage.”
High glycemic index, excess sugar, low fibre content, with such a table, fruit juices should be considered above all as a pleasure food, to be consumed in moderation within the limit of one glass per day” preferably pressed or 100% pure juice”, insists Florence Rossi. And to reach the PNNS recommendations of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, the nutrition professional should turn to whole fruits: “Three servings of unprocessed fruit maximum per day. They are less hyperglycemic, contain fibre, and be chewed to be ingested, affecting satiety. From a nutritional point of view, it’s much more interesting!”.