Friday, 30 January 2015

Is fruit juice bad for you?

We seem to be steering away from drinking fruit juices.  With stark newspaper headlines about toddlers having tooth decay; sugar being the government's latest bogeyman and our obsession with 'super drinks' such as coconut water and now birch sap water, we're shying away from old fashioned fruit juices.

But I fear we're in danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater here.

It seems to be reported as some kind of revelation in the press that a glass of orange juice contains sugar.  There's screaming headlines about some juices containing more sugar than a can of coke.

Fruit juice - the kind from pure fruit, with no added anything does contain sugar.  It contains naturally occurring fructose that is present in the oranges or apples or whatever fruit it happens to be.  How do you think fruit tastes sweet ? Fairy dust?

Personally I'm a firm believer in everything in moderation - hell, even water can kill you if you drink too much.  I am happy to include pure fruit juice in my family's diet as part of a balanced intake.

Read beyond the headlines and you'll see the young child who had to have milk teeth removed because of tooth decay was drinking loads of fruit juice.  Drinking it all day long, through a sippy cup that was pretty much permanently against the teeth all day long.

There seems to be a media witch-hunt against fruit juice at the moment.  But honestly, there's a hell of a lot worse food and drinks out there with all kinds of added sweeteners and artificial nasties.  I know what I'd prefer to drink.

Unlike a lot of squashes and fizzy drinks, pure juice does actually contain a lot of good stuff.

I'm not suggesting you drink gallons of the stuff.  Just one (very) small glass of 150 ml of orange juice (to put that into perspective, most kids cartons contain 200ml of liquid) will count as one of your 5 a day and gives essential vitamin C, folate and potassium.  This amount of juice will typically provide around half of your daily requirement of vitamin C.   

One small glass folks. That's all.  Drinking one glass of fruit juice will not suddenly make all your teeth fall out or instantly inflate your ass to the morbidly obese section of the scales.  Despite what the Daily Mail says.

Everything in moderation.

With studies showing that only around 10% of pre-teen children are reaching their 5-a-day, then pure fruit juice is a very useful way of upping their fruit and veg quota.  The vitamin C is also essential for girls as they reach puberty as it helps with the body's absorption of iron.

Now, orange juice can be bad for teeth.  Of course it can.  Both the naturally occurring sugar and the acid in the juice can affect dental health.  Some simple ways to reduce the impact on teeth are not giving children juice in a bottle with a teat or in a sippy cup.  You can also dilute pure fruit juice with water before drinking. If you're having fruit juice as part of your breakfast, brush your teeth first.  This will remove all the bacteria that the acid reacts to.  And brushing teeth at least an hour after drinking juice will prevent any damage to the enamel of the teeth which can become softened by acid.  

It's true to say also, that not all juices are equal.  Those containing 'bits' or cloudy juices are better than the smooth variety because they will also provide some fibre from the fruit.

Citrus fruits such as orange and grapefruit contain a much higher amount of vitamin C than apple or grape juice.

So, choose your juice wisely, go for citrus fruits, no added sugar but extra 'bits' and drink just one small glass as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Disclosure: I attended a round-table event with Tropicana to discuss the merits of fruit juice as part of a healthy lifestyle.  It confirmed my pre-held beliefs on the subject.


  1. This is a subject so close to my heart. My eldest daughter had to have a filling and I was mortified, I had spent years ensuring she didn't drink fizzy pop, eat too many sweets, regularly brushed her teeth ..... and the dentist asked me if she drank fruit juice. I replied that Apple Juice was her favourite and she just looked at me with this knowing smile!! So I am glad so see someone in support of this. Our children wouldn't be able to do, eat or drink anything if we listened to everything in the press and I totally agree with everything in moderation ...... maybe just not apple juice for every drink according to our dentist!

    1. Oh dear! Yes, maybe not too much apple juice in future!

  2. I always differentiate between juice and that 'made from concentrate' that purports to be juice, plus try to limit it to meal times - especially with eggs so that the Vit C will aid absorption of the iron. It's still quite acidic so will erode teeth so those all day drink things are lethal! Great tips Liz X

  3. I am with you - moderation is the key and it is a good way to get 1 of those elusive 5 a days into a fussy toddler.

    1. Yes, so much easier sometimes than forcing vegetables down!

  4. Everything in moderation, especially when it is naturally occuring. I agree with you Liz and my family are happy to have a glass of juice every now and then. Mich x

  5. Oh how I would love a newspaper to simply use the title 'Everything in moderation' and not things like 'fruit juice the silent killer'!

  6. I am completely with you - everything in moderation is OK for you. My 12 year old went through a phase of asking if something was healthy before she would eat it thanks to the schools overkill on eating healthy!

  7. I think we have all lost our way with having things in moderation, over doing things and then trying to find someone to blame. A glass of pure fruit juice a day is far better than some of those nasty fizzy drinks etc that are targeted at children.

  8. I think a straw is useful as well to limit contact with teeth!!

  9. I'm very fond of juices. My mother used to give me Noni Juice when I was young. Now I buy Pure Noni Juice from online stores. It is very beneficial, more beneficial than general fruit juices like Orange, Apple, Grape, and banana juice.