(Sticky) hands up who had family-sized cans of pineapple juice in the pantry when they were young? The sweet nectar underpinned a generation’s post-school snack times. The thing is, we now know, that juice wasn’t necessarily healthy.
According to research, many popular children's fruit drinks promoting themselves as a healthy option have been found to contain up to seven teaspoons of sugar. That’s more than for the same volume of some well-known soft drinks.
“While they can contain a lot of vitamins, fruit juices can also contain a lot of hidden sugar and, sadly, strip out all of the good fibre from fruit,” says Emma Cronin, nutritionist and founder of Nourishe.
The problem with sugar
Too much sugar can contribute to weight gain and poor dental health. Even freshly squeezed juices – be they from your kitchen benchtop or your local juice bar – may not be the health-in-a-cup they purport to be.
Whole fruit contains a lot of fibre, the good stuff that keeps your blood sugar levels stable and your bowels in regular working order; juicing fruit can remove that fibre.
A study by the boffins from the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health found those who ate at least two servings each week of whole fruits – in particular, blueberries, grapes and apples – had healthier blood sugar levels than those who ate less than one serving per month.
They also found that swapping three servings of juice per week for whole fruits had positive effects on blood sugar metabolism.
What’s the alternative?
Still not willing to give up the sippy cup? Cronin recommends sticking to vegetable juices, and adding a piece of fruit for sweetness if needed.
“This is also a great way to introduce veg juices to kids, for example a spinach juice with one apple,” she says.