When it comes to most food and drink, too much of a good thing can lead to some negative health outcomes. Juice is no exception. Although juice can be healthy and provide some shining benefits, you want to make sure you are selecting the right kind and not over-indulging in the wrong ones.
Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, a registered dietitian on our medical expert board, explains that no one food or beverage causes abdominal fat. However, if you take in more calories than you need, it can, long term, contribute to weight gain and additional abdominal fat. Therefore, sugar-sweetened beverages such as certain juices and smoothies with added sugar may be a factor in unnecessary calories, and you may not even notice. When we say sugar-sweetened juices, we're not talking about 100% juices that are pure juice and don't contain any added sugars.
"Without realizing it, many people take in lots of added calories from sugar-sweetened beverages, says Goodson. "In most cases, these drinks don't make you feel full so it's easy to sip down quite a few calories with a meal or snack, or in between them."
With that being said, Goodson continues to suggest that while most people think of soda, lemonade, and energy drinks when they think of sugar-sweetened beverages, it's important to note that juices, smoothies, and other seemingly "healthy" beverages could also be adding sugar and calories.
"Juice is an interesting one because all juice provides sugar in the form of fructose, a naturally occurring sugar found in fruit," Goodson explains. "Some juices, like 100% juice, however, provide more nutrient benefit than others."
For example, Goodson suggests that 100% pomegranate juice also provides antioxidants and potassium while 100% orange juice provides vitamin C and some specific B vitamins. So, while you are consuming sugar, it's a nutrient-rich sugar that also has health benefits.
Meanwhile, some juices have added sugars and contain fewer nutrients.
Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LDN, CLEC, CPT, another member of our medical expert board and author of The First Time Mom's Pregnancy Cookbook, The 7 Ingredient Healthy Pregnancy Cookbook, and Fueling Male Fertility suggests that "orange" drinks can be bad juice options.
"There are many orange drink options out there that look like they are 100% orange juice, when in fact, they are made with added sugar and unnatural ingredients," says Manaker. "Drinking too many added sugars can contribute to abdominal fat accumulation, and some of these varieties contribute very little micronutrients if any at all. Your best bet is to stick to 100% orange juice if you want an orange-tasting drink."
Goodson further shares that these types of drinks are the ones you should limit in your diet, as they have little to no nutrient benefits and can add lots of extra calories to your day.
How do you know if you are choosing the right juice?
When visiting your local grocery shop, there are tons of juice options to choose from. How can you trust you're going to select a healthier option? Goodson shares some of her suggestions:
- Look for 100% juice. This means that the fruit in the juice should be the first ingredient on the ingredient list.
- Look for juices with no added sugars.
- Look for fresh-pressed juices. The juice is nothing more than what came from the fruit.
- Look for pureed fruit juice. This means that the whole fruit was pureed or blended in, which adds fiber.
- Consume the right portion size. One serving of 100% fruit juice is 6 ounces (this counts as one fruit serving).