Fruit juice: friend or foe?

Fruit juice’s reputation has gone through a roller-coaster of ups and downs lately – common wisdom can’t seem to decide if it’s the great hope for nutrition or a silent killer. The truth, of course, lies somewhere in the middle.

The benefits

Fruit juice, as long as it’s 100% juice, and not from concentrate, has a lot of the same nutritional benefits as the fruit itself – it’s nutrient rich and largely unprocessed, keeping a large percentage of those nutrients intact on its way to your mouth. Fruit juice is a tasty way to get a solid helping of vitamins, and if you happen to get morning sickness during pregnancy, there are times when it might go down more easily than solid food.

The problem

Fruit juice provides most of the benefits of whole fruit, but the big one that fruit juice loses is fiber, which is an important part of a healthy diet before, during, and after pregnancy. In particular, in whole fruit, the time it takes to eat fruit on its own means that the sugars in it hit your system a bit more slowly than they do if you’re drinking the same fruit’s juice. The fiber also means you have a better chance of getting full before you’ve consumed as much sugar as you would with juice. Some juices are also heavily artificially-flavored, so it’s important to know how natural the juice you’re drinking really is by checking out the ingredients listed.

Fruit juices are often high on the Glycemic Index as well, so it’s probably a good idea for those who have or are at risk of developing gestational diabetes to avoid drinking fruit juice.

The bottom line is that whether fruit juice is good for your health all comes down to what it’s being compared to. If you’re drinking fruit juice instead of drinking soda during your pregnancy, it’s definitely the healthy choice, since fruit juice has considerably more nutrients and less sugar than soda, and the sugars that are present in pure fruit juice are pure fructose rather than the high fructose corn syrup that’s in soda. On the other hand, if you’re drinking fruit juice instead of eating fruit, you’re missing out on the fiber from fruit, and taking in more sugar faster than you would be if you ate the whole fruit, making it less healthy.

  • “Ch. 17: Nutrition During Pregnancy.” ACOG. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Apr 2015. Web.
  • Juliette Siegfried. “The Benefits and Drawbacks of Drinking Fruit Juice.” HealthGuidance., 2017. Web.
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