When I was studying nutrition at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition a decade ago the accepted view on fruit juice was that we should advise our clients to limit consumption. We were told to effectively treat it the same as any other soft drink. The reason for this was the high sugar content of juice and the lack of fibre. This meant it was digested and absorbed much more quickly into the blood than that the whole fruit, which could result in a spike of insulin, and potentially weight gain.
It is also much easier to over consume juice. A half a carton of orange juice contains 480 calories, which I can imagine drinking in one sitting if I was thirsty. This is the equivalent of roughly 8 whole oranges, which I definitely can’t imagine eating in one go. Interestingly the guidance on fruit juice varies from one country to the next. In the UK fruit juice can count as one of your five a day, whereas in the Netherlands the recommendation is to keep fruit juice consumption to a minimum.
However a new report suggests that in fact drinking fruit juice does offer significant health benefits in terms reducing the risk of heart disease (CVD). The study compared individuals with no fruit consumption with individuals consuming up to 7 glasses of juice a day. and found a reduction in risk of heart disease and strokes of around 20%. The paper can be accessed on this link
The benefits are likely to be linked to polyphenols which are not lost in the jucing process and which have been shown to lower blood pressure. There is no doubt that eating the whole fruit is preferrable for a number of reasons. However what this study suggests is that for individuals who are resistant to whole fruit consumption, encouraging them to drink fruit juice may be a worthwhile alternative.