Are Fruit Juices Healthier Than Soda?
If you're like most people, fruit juice is a staple at your home. Juice is usually considered a healthy beverage, especially when compared to popular soda drinks containing a substantial amount of sugar. However, juice has come under fire in recent years for not being as healthy as it's advertised.
Yet people still drink it on a regular basis and believe it's an important part of a nutritious diet. It's true that fruit juice does contain essential vitamins and nutrients, but the high sugar content can't be ignored. In this guide, we're going to crunch the numbers to determine once and for all if juice is actually good for you.
A standard cola drink usually has 39 grams of sugar for every 12-ounce serving. On the other hand, fruit juices can have as much as 23 grams of sugar per cup, which is about 8 ounces of liquid. When you do the math, both beverages have about the same amount of sugar when the serving sizes are similar.
Sugar intake plays a major role in health and wellness, and most adults could use a reduction in how much they consume. Sugar contains lots of calories, which is associated with weight gain. Being overweight or obese is linked to numerous medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. A substantial sugar intake is also associated with decreased heart health.
Fruit juice can also affect your health in other ways. Citrus juices, including orange juice and grapefruit juice, are highly acidic. These acids can actually wear down tooth enamel significantly, especially when combined with the high sugar content of these drinks.
Oral bacteria thrive on the sugar in the foods you eat. When enamel becomes softer, it allows more bacteria to invade your tooth and cause cavities. Accordingly, too much juice (and soda, of course) can have a detrimental effect on your oral health, in addition to your overall health.
A Word About Sports Drinks
Like fruit juices, sports drinks are also advertised as a healthier alternative to soda. And like juice, sports drinks have high sugar content. For example, some brands can contain as much as 21 grams of sugar per 12-ounce serving. While it's still less than soda, that's a significant amount of sugar to consume regularly.
Sports drinks are recommended for intensive workouts lasting two hours or longer. That's because these drinks contain electrolytes, which help replace the salt you lose when you sweat. For moderate workouts and activities, water is still the way to go.
What You Should Drink Instead
While it's fine to drink juice and soda in moderation, your beverage intake should be focused on water for the most part. Water is essential to so many bodily processes, such as regulating blood pressure and flushing toxins from your bladder. Water also ensures your cells have the proper nutrients and oxygen to thrive, which will keep you alert and energized throughout the day.
So how much water should you drink? Most healthy adults should drink four to six cups (or 32 to 48 ounces) of water every day. Keep in mind you will need more if you're working out or experiencing extremely hot weather. These conditions can cause dehydration, which can have serious health effects.
Whole Fruit to the Rescue
When it comes to fruit juices, you're better off getting your essential nutrients straight from the source. Tasty fruits like apples, oranges, and berries don't have added sugars, like so many of the juices on the shelf at your local grocery store. They also have lots of fiber, which is another essential nutrient for good health. So stick with water and increase your intake of whole fruit if you want to maintain a healthy diet.