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Fruit: to Drink or to Eat?

by on February 9, 2014
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Fast Track To Fit With Stef Stefani Pappas

You’re drinking a whole glass of orange juice with breakfast every morning and think that you are starting your day on a healthy note. Well, think again. Although fruit juice can be very convenient, a real piece of fruit is the healthier option. The juicing process destroys several of the beneficial compounds found in fruit, and removes almost all of the natural fiber and antioxidants. You’re getting all of the sugar, but no fiber, which is not the best for your health.

fruit juice

The fiber in real fruit is one of its highlights. Fiber has a slew of digestive benefits and helps slow the absorption of the sugar from fruit, which keeps the glycemic index low. Fluids are more rapidly absorbed as opposed to solids, so drinking fruit juice will bring on a more rapid and dramatic glucose response. Fresh fruit also contains both insoluble and soluble fiber, which work to help reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, improve appetite control, and lead to a decreased risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease. The bulkiness of fiber also helps make sure that you don’t overdo it on the sugar or calories in real fruit. The lack of fiber in fruit juices has scientists hypothesizing why a high intake of fruit juice is being linked to childhood obesity and increasing the risk of diabetes.

Have you ever picked up a fruit juice bottle and noticed the enormous number of calories on the label? While these juices are often marketed as healthy and all-natural, they are certainly not a low-calorie alternative. A cup of apple juice has about 110 calories, which is the same as almost two small apples. The juice, however, won’t keep you full like two apples will because it lacks the fiber. Not to mention the added sugar that is typically put in these fruit juices, as well as the loss of essential phytochemicals. I picked up a fruit juice the other day that had 64 grams of sugar in one small bottle and two grams of fiber! Needless to say, I put that right back on the shelf. No need to drink a bottle of juice that won’t fill me up when I can simply have a whole piece of fruit and enjoy the health benefits of the fiber and phytochemicals.

While fruit juice is portable and easy, if you have to choose between the two options, pick the whole fruit. The fiber in the whole fruit will keep you filled up, and deliver more nutrients that are still intact. If you aren’t a big fan of whole fruit, try blending fruit into a smoothie; this option still contains all the nutrients of the fruit and takes less time to consume, so it’s perfect for an on-the-go snack.

 Stefani Pappas

Stefani Pappas is the author of GamerFitNation’s biweekly column, “Fast Track To Fit With Stef!” She is a college student majoring in nutritional sciences and hopes to become a registered dietitian. As a certified indoor cycling instructor, Stefani is dedicated to leading a healthy and active lifestyle and inspiring others to do the same. Follow her on Twitter @stefhealthtips for more nutrition and fitness tips!

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  • Talidan

    How about smoothies? Like just throwing an entire piece of fruit (at least what you’d normally eat) into a blender and drinking it like that? I’d assume you would get almost all of the benefits, yes?