Ask the average person on the street which is better for them – fruit juices or soft drink? - and you’d likely be told the former.
That’s partly because fruit in any form is seen as intrinsically healthy but also because sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) have justifiably been in the public health crosshairs of late, responsible for increasing rates of tooth decay and chronic conditions such as diabetes and weight gain.
But a new study from published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) notes that fruit juices often contain “as much sugar and as many calories as SSBs [and] although the sugar in 100% fruit juices is naturally occurring rather than added, once metabolised, the biological response is essentially the same.”
In other words, people may think they’re being healthier reaching for an orange juice rather than a cola but the effect on their oral and general health is essentially the same.
While the evidence on this front isn’t conclusive yet – the study observed that the “evidence for an association of intake of fruit juices with health outcomes is much less abundant and consistent [than that of SSB]” - and moderate consumption of fruit juice may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, fruit juices “are lower than whole fruits in dietary fiber and can contribute extra calories and sugars when consumed in excess”.
The advice from the study? While fruit juices may not be quite as bad for you as SSB, they should always be consumed in moderation, with more research needed to full understand their health effects on the body.