Why Fruit Juice <em>Isn't</em> That Good for You

Everyone knows how beneficial it is to drink fruit juice every day, right? Wrong. We have been misguided once again.
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Everyone knows how beneficial it is to drink fruit juice every day, right? Wrong. We have been misguided once again.

Forever I drank orange juice for breakfast and then some; I was an orange juice fanatic, honestly believing that it added nutrition to my diet, if nothing else. It was my coffee in the morning. But along came the true reality of it all. Fruit juices are hazardous to your health -- and this is not a joke. I stopped drinking, with not too much withdrawal.

It is difficult to accept at first, but when all is said and done, the processing of the commercial fruit juices on the market today leaves almost nothing but fructose to race through your arteries.

The popular fruit juices that adorn our breakfast tables every morning (excluding freshly squeezed), whether at home or in restaurants, has the skin removed, fiber extracted and has most likely undergone the pasteurization process to kill all bacteria -- good and bad. This includes destroying all the natural enzymes that are alive in the natural fruit which aids in both digestion and other natural bodily functions; pasteurization also destroys a large amount of the vitamins and minerals. The CDC reports that about 98 percent of all fruit juices sold in the United States have been pasteurized. If it's canned, bottled or in a carton, fruit juice does more harm than good.

A study at Baylor College of Medicine found no association between 100 percent fruit juice consumption and weight gain, but it has been shown to increase blood sugar and blood pressure levels, and increase triglycerides. The sudden surge of acidic sugar (no matter what the source) can inflame the arteries, and too much inflammation in the body leads to arterial disease.

A wide variety of the supermarket fruit juices even have added sugar, thus increasing the chance of damage. The manufacturers of these so-called fruit drinks use marketing techniques that fool the public into thinking their products are nutritious when in fact they contain more sugar (or even high fructose corn syrup) than the juice itself. Also remember, whenever a label reads juice cocktail, it will invariably have added sugar.

One particular group of fruit juices to take a look at include those promoted as super-power drinks: acai, noni and mangosteen. Of course these fruits are high in antioxidants and highly nutritious, but remember, again, the bottles on the most part contain only juice -- no skin, no fiber, no enzymes. Their exotic names and testimonials are highly promoted, but keep in mind the bottles do not always contain 100 percent juice; they are very often mixed with other common fruits, and the price is way out of line compared to whole fruits like blueberries that can be bought frozen, and contain very similar antioxidant value. The exotic berries would be very nutritious to munch on, but they are hard to come by, seeing how costly they are to transport. Juice is juice just the same.

Fruits are meant to be eaten whole, and, except for a few fruits that have a tough protective outer layer like the pineapple and banana, all parts of the fruit are full of valuable nutrients that the body is waiting to utilize. In most cases, the skin of the fruit can contain more nutrients than the flesh.

There is such a concern with fruit juice consumption that the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a warning to parents that "Although juice consumption has some benefits, it also has potential detrimental effects," and suggests its use should be limited.

Schools recently are beginning to replace the soft drinks in vending machines with 100 percent fruit juices, however the Harvard School of Public Health indicates that fruit juices are not a better option, pointing out the fact that it may have more nutrients, but "ounce for ounce it contains as much sugar and calories as soda pop."

If and when the craving for a fruit juice comes about, the best bet would be to put the whole fruit in a blender with a little water, and make your own. Peel an orange and use the entire contents inside; blend fresh or frozen berries, maybe add a little lemon. It can all be very refreshing and nutritious, just the way nature intended.

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