Is Juice as Bad as Soda?

Health & Wellness

Tips for Living Healthy in South Arkansas

Jason Rogers
Manager, JRMC Wellness Centers

Many studies show that a high soft drink intake is associated with an increased caloric intake and an increase in body weight. Soda consumption is also correlated to a decreased intake in calcium and other nutrients and an increased risk of many diseases (such as diabetes). This is all due to their high sugar content.

Individuals who consume two or more soft drinks a day have a 26 percent greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to people who rarely consume soft drinks. It has also been shown that consuming an average of one soda per day increases the risk of having a heart attack by 20 percent.

However, fruit juices also contain high amounts of sugar. A twelve-ounce soda contains about 140 calories and 40 grams of sugar. The same amount of apple juice contains 165 calories and 39 grams of sugar.

Yes, fruit juices contain vitamins and antioxidants, but they contain much less than un-juiced fruit. Fruit juices lose some of their nutritional value during processing and because they don’t contain fiber, they don’t help us feel satisfied like whole fruits.

What about those who exercise regularly? If you are working out in the morning and want a quick source of energy, you could drink a glass of juice. But if you are training more than a few hours after breakfast, you should consume whole fruits instead. The fiber content of whole fruit will help regulate your blood sugar level so you will have energy for a longer period of time.

Also, instead of drinking a sports or soft drink during a long bike ride or run, you could drink a little bit of fruit juice. Make sure to dilute the juice with water and add a pinch of salt to replace the electrolytes lost during your training. Non-diluted fruit juice may not digest properly and may cause gastrointestinal issues.

Even though fruit juices contain as much sugar and calories as soft drinks and they are not really much more nutritious, fruit juices don’t contain many of the unhealthy ingredients that soft drinks can. And typically, the more soda someone drinks, the less milk they drink. So, a person who drinks soda regularly may be calcium deficient. This is crucial for children and adolescents because their bones are still developing.

So, to answer our question: Are fruit juices as bad as soda? No … but only by the smallest margin. Kids really need to stay away from both as much as possible and the juice they do drink should be diluted with water. For the rest of us, unless the juice is serving a specific purpose (replenish lost carbs, or as a pre-workout pick-me-up), it’s still sugar. And too much sugar is a bad thing!

The JRMC Wellness Centers, located in Pine Bluff and White Hall, offer a variety of fitness options for all ages and interests. Free weights, machines, cardio equipment, personal trainers and a full schedule of Les Mills classes are available at both facilities. For more information call the Pine Bluff (541-7890) or White Hall (850-8000) facility.


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