Reduce the Juice

Monica Eng

Posted June 3, 2012

Many public health officials are now warning patients that fruit juice poses many of the same health risks as soda when it comes to obesity and diabetes. What concrete actions can consumers take?

Global nutrition professor Barry Popkin and others advise eating whole fruits (which contain fiber) instead of drinking fruit juices, so that a feeling of fullness is delivered with the sugars and calories.

Some new, less sugary juice products are on the market, he said, but parents also can simply water down juice at home.

Although liquids won't quell hunger as well as solid foods, Popkin said a smoothie made, for example, with bananas, blueberries, ice and no sugar would be "a heck of a lot better than just blueberry juice" because the smoothie would still contain the fruits' fiber.

Health advocates also note that even if a product is labeled as 100 percent juice with no added sugar, it can contain high levels of "natural" sugar. Fruit juice concentrates also can make a product much sweeter than juice obtained simply from squeezing fruit.

New York University nutrition professor Marion Nestle acknowledges that cutting juice out entirely may not be realistic for everyone.

"In theory, it's absolutely true," Nestle said of the need to avoid juice. "In practice, it's best to restrict to 6 or 8 ounces a day, max. The best advice? Don't drink your calories!"

©2012 the Chicago Tribune Distributed by Mclatchy-Tribune News Service.
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