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Health Food or Junk Food? The Truth about Juice

Health Food or Junk Food? The Truth about Juice

By Dana DeMercurio

If you were to open an American child’s lunchbox (under age 8), you’re sure to find three things – a sandwich on white bread, potato chips (or equivalent) and a juice box. Most unknowing parents would presume the chips are the worst part of that equation in a child’s diet, but would you be surprised if we told you otherwise?

For decades juice boxes have been served as a healthy option and often as a substitute for the real thing.  In fact, Dr. Joel Fuhrman states in his nutritional guidebook Eat To Live that apple juice accounts for nearly half of all fruit servings consumed by preschoolers. When examining the high rate of Type 1 diabetes in our country’s youth, scientists and doctors alike aren’t just looking at sodas and fizzy drinks anymore; they moved on to fruit substitutes like these to help crack the code.

In order to understand the dangers of fruit juice in your child’s diet, it’s critical to know how sugar works in the body. Here’s a hint: not all sugars are created equal.

Fructose, which is found in all fruits, is a naturally occurring sugar that, when consumed in normal portions, can be properly digested in the body.

But with the latest excessive use of the cheaper form of Fructose known as High Fructose Corn Syrup, it is now making up a larger part of the American diet. High Fructose Corn Syrup can be found in everything from crackers to candies to soft drinks. This is what adds on the pounds in both adults and children, regardless of its state (solid or liquid).  In fact, even the “fruit juices” used in products like these are stripped of their natural nutritional components and are therefore straight sugar, according to Dr. Fuhrman. 

The Department of Physiology at the University Of Lausanne, Switzerland found in their research data that high fructose consumption has been linked to weight gain, metabolic disorder and cardiovascular issues.  Because high fructose is found in the vast majority of food served to children, our country has seen and will continue to see a spike in Type 1 diabetes among our youth population. 

But juice boxes aren’t the only culprit.

Ever bought a carton of orange juice because the label said “100% fruit juice” or “all-natural?” Or thought that drinking a glass with breakfast would count as your vitamin C intake for the day? Then you’ve fallen into the marketers’ trap.

We’ve been fooled into thinking the best way to get Vitamin C is in oranges, when in fact vegetables like broccoli, red bell peppers and kale have more nutrients and vitamins than oranges, and don’t have the added sugars, carbohydrates or high levels of fructose that oranges have. 

The convenience of juice boxes and similar consumables may seem like the easy way out, but the long-term effects on your child’s health will prove otherwise.  As a reminder, nothing can substitute for the real thing.  In order for your child to get their proper nutrients from fruits and vegetables, eating intact fruit is the only way to go. 

If you’re looking for more proof about the dangers of fruit juice consumption, just check out the label and list of ingredients in your child’s favorite fruit juice.  The evidence doesn’t lie.