Hey fruit juice, what’s the deal? We know you’re packed with nutrients (that we need because we’re apparently not eating enough actual fruits). But, you’re also chock-full of sugar — sometimes just as much as pop — so what are we to do?
The debate about whether fruit juice is actually good for you has been going on for years, and it’s been thrust back to the forefront thanks to Health Canada. Dr. Hasan Hutchinson, head of the office of nutrition and health policy (a.k.a. the folks in charge of Canada’s Food Guide), said at an obesity conference that Health Canada would “shift emphasis away from juice as a source of fruit and vegetables.” That’s a big deal since the guide currently says half a cup (125 mL) of 100 per cent fruit juice is equal to a serving of juice.
“We chew fruit. We don’t drink fruit,” obesity expert Dr. Yoni Freedhoff said to CTV News. “And when you have a glass of water with five teaspoons of sugar and a little bit of vitamins and you’re calling that fruit, well, that does a disservice to the people who are trying to give you good advice.”
According to CTV, some types of apple and orange juices contain the same amount of calories and sugar as pop, but juices appear to be healthier. Many health experts say the current guideline is contributing to that false belief, but others say we shouldn’t paint all 100 per cent fruit juices with the same brush.
“Juice has the amount of sugar as pop, but it has a whole bunch of micronutrients, the antioxidants, the vitamins…” said public health registered dietitian Gilles Cloutier to CTV News.
It does seem like both sides are standing firm in their beliefs, but they do agree on one thing: Fruit juice, 100 per cent or otherwise, can never replace the health benefits of eating real fruit. Health Canada encourages Canadians to eat vegetables and fruit more often than juice because it recognizes that “there are benefits to eating whole fruits over juice.” Dr. Freedhoff, meanwhile, takes a more straightforward approach: “Stop, drink water and eat a fruit.”
In a statement, Health Canada says it’s currently reviewing various foods (including juice) in the guide and, depending on the findings, it could be updated in the future. In the meantime, you should probably drink fruit juice in moderation and eat an apple (or eight) daily.